Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

June 2013

This months News



Village History

Handing it in on a Church Plate

John Bishop, Una Hill’s brother, whose family has ancient connections with Oxhill, has kindly sent me a reference he has found of a Survey undertaken of church goods by Commissioners in 1552.

Checking this out, I find the date falls at the end of Edward VI’s reign, and therefore at the height of the Reformation.   Edward, Henry VIII’s only son, ruled from the age of nine until his early death aged fifteen in 1553.  He was much influenced by his Protestant advisers, and his reign saw more sweeping reforms to the actual forms of worship than were made by his father, who retained many of the old ceremonies.  He soon ordered that images be abolished, altars taken down, walls whitewashed, and Mass books and breviaries surrendered.

The survey of 1552 marked a move to go further. Churches were to yield up any remaining articles relating to the old rites, (the sale of which would helpfully replenish the much depleted royal coffers).  The communion service was henceforth to take place at a long trestle table with benches in the body of the church, with a wooden cup or a glass replacing the chalice, and the minister robed in a simple surplice rather than a cope. Surplus plate and other articles, together with bells, were to be surrendered. (Our bells now all date from later, two from 1701, together with a small one of similar date, and the remainder from 1878.)  

In the survey, Oxhill churchwardens declared a chalice, eight bells (four large, two small) two copes, a velvet cushion, six altar cloths, a brass pyx (for holding the Sacrament), some towels, tin “cruets” for  water and wine, some streamers (for processions), a brass basin, two brass candlesticks and a brass processional cross.  (Also “Tow tan clothes” – (two ?leather cloths?)

Apart from the chalice, presumably silver, the other items were brass or tin, but the vestments were still fine, and the pyx, cushion and streamers suggest some remaining ceremony.    All were now to be handed in.   After Edward’s death the following year, Catholicism was to make a brief return under Queen Mary, (when presumably the church would have been re-equipped), before Elizabeth reinstated Protestant worship of a more moderate kind.  During the civil war in the next century, the occupation of Oxhill by parliamentary troops in 1644 would have seen the plunder of any existing church goods, and the destruction of any stained glass and early memorials, and may well account for the plainness and simplicity of the church interior today. 

The monarchy was restored in 1660, and with it the established Church of England. By 1664 our churchwardens were able to declare that “we have all our Church books and ornaments”: and later, in 1682, they itemised “a silver cup and pewter flagon for the communion.”    This year falls within the long period when Nicholas Meese was our Rector, (to be followed on by his son Walwyn).  The Meese family seem to have felt the old plate insufficient, as Nicholas himself was to present a silver tankard, presumably to replace the pewter flagon, and his family later presented a chalice dated 1716, thought to commemorate Nicholas’s death the year before.  This is still in use today.  

Parishes had suffered considerable disruption and expense throughout these religious changes, as church goods were first disposed of and then bought anew. The calmer religious waters of later centuries are perhaps reflected in the fact that our church plate and two of our bells have been with us now for the last three hundred years.

Ann Hale

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Last modified: June 20, 2013