Norton Mandeville church, Essex
All Saints Church, Norton Mandeville, near Ongar in Essex is one of the few churches in the county still lit by oil lamps and candles and has twice survived recent attempts to close it.
The present small building is 14th century but the presence of a 12th century font and the inclusion of some earlier stone in the flint rubble walls indicates an earlier date. The popular view is that the first church dates from between 1182 and 1190. It was in 1190 that Galiena de Dammartin granted the church to the Priory of St. Leonard's at Bromley, Middlesex. Her second husband, Ralph Mandeville, gave his name to the manor of Norton [North Tun]. A tun meaning a homestead or village.
The church guide records that the Mandeville name originates from a village in Normandy. Geoffrey De Mandeville landed with William The Conquerer and his grandson became first Earl of Essex.
The church survived a Parochial Church Council closure meeting by one vote in the early 1970s while a further meeting in 1983 voted to raise the £13,000 needed for urgent repairs. A round of annual fundraising events are still held. In 2000AD a Milliennium yew tree was planted in the grounds.
The interior is cool and surprisingly lofty but is lit only by hanging oil lamps, plus a spare candle for the organist to play the church's harmonium. There is an hour glass on a bracket beside the pulpit to allow the vicar to time the sermon. The weather boarded bell turret is late 14th or early 15th century in date and contains one Victorian bell.
The churchyard is maintained as a nature reserve and is still in use for burials. Local chickens, ducks and pea-hens have the run of the churchyard and can be found roosting among the graves.
www.flickr.com/photos/barryslemmings/sets/72057594132610691/ to view the whole set.