Robert Brand, farmer, who farmed Builden End farm in the 1800s was also a writer. He wrote down everything, and what is more he kept it. Although we only have part of his collection of papers he gives us a wealth of information about Chrishall, as well as other places as he was a bit of a traveller too. One of Robert’s articles is all about the seating in the church. Combined with the seating plans from the scrapbook these give us a glimpse into a village community and perhaps some of it’s hierachy.
From the Chrishall Scrapbook (copies available to view in the Archive) we also have the following seating plans:
Above is the plan from 1800. Notice that the church porches are not paved at this point and the pulpit is in the middle of the church. Some areas of the village, such as Broad Green and Building End have their own areas of the church to sit.
Here is the plan – covering 20 years – from 1843 to 1863. The porches now have some kind of paving but the pulpit is still in the body of the church. I wonder if the word “figure” next to Chiswick Hall’s pew refers to the stone carving thought to be Margaret de la Pole?
Finally we have the plan from March 1869, presumably in readiness for the “grand re-opening” of the church after extensive restoration work. Lots of individual families are named in this plan, perhaps keen to make sure they were there on the big day! You can read the newspaper report of the celebrations here.
Note also on this plan that the pulpit has been moved to its current position in the church.
And as mentioned at the start, we have Robert Brand’s detailed description of church seating in 1844:
Chrishall, 8th February 1844
Samuel White (carpenter) told me, Robert Brand, that he (Samuel White) Built the Pulpit (in Chrishall Church) and Desk, and Clerk’s Desk for eight Pounds. The Pulpit was built against the pillar that stands between the first and second arch east part next the north aisle – it faced south. The Minister’s desk was in front of the pulpit and the Clerk’s Desk on the west of the Minister’s Desk. The little pew behind the Clerk’s Desk was built by him, and the Clerk (Phillip Rogers) paid half the expense, and S. White bore the other half himself, for their Wives and Family’s to sit in.
The pew nearest the pulpit on the east side was built by him, and paid for by Thomas Brand, for himself and family to sit in. (Thomas PIgg’s Grandfather was the Thos. Brand that paid for that pew). The pew in the chancel, south side, was built by him, and John Smith that lived at the farthest Lower Farm at Building End, paid for it for himself and family to sit in.
The Large Pew nearest to the last mentioned was used by Spenser (Broadgreen Farm). (It was a high oak paneld Pew. I suppose it belonged to the Park House family at one time).
Mr Burr, Chiswick Hall, sat in the Large Pew in the front of the Minister. (The stone with the large brass on called Sir John de la Pole’s lay under this and the small Pew. I suppose Mrs Banks was buried in that vault or grave).
The small Pew nearest to the last mentioned, where Mrs Banks is interred, the Vicar, Rev Butler Berry, lent to Nash Kemp – as he (the Vicar) lived at Triplow – so did not require it for his own family. Mr Jackson (that lived in Broadgreen) paid for building a pew in the south aisle for himself and family.
Breens Miller sat next behind Thomas Brand, and Mr Downham, Chrishall Bury Farm and Mr Livings and the Vicar’s Pew both stood endways to the south and north and the Doors opened into the Middle aisle.
(Spelling as originally written)