In 2015 Chrishall Church underwent an extensive project to replace the floor, replace some of the pews with chairs and also make many of the pews moveable to make a more flexible meeting place for the village. This project has been a complete success and if you have not visited the church in the last few years do make a trip there again to see all the improvements. This did, however, bring to mind a previous refurbishment of the church that was undertaken nearly 150 years previously. Obviously that was a success too!
The Eastern Counties Advertiser Friday, April 16, 1869
RE-OPENING OF CHRISHALL CHURCH, NEAR ROYSTON.
Thursday, April 8th, will long be remembered by the inhabitants of Chrishall as an important day in the annals of their quiet and secluded little village. Chrishall is situate about midway between Saffron Walden and Royston. The population is purely agricultural, numbering about 650, and it has no resident landowner. The parish church, a venerable building of considerable size, which had for years fallen into decay, was on Thursday, April 8, re-opened by the Bishop of Rochester, after a complete and thorough restoration. This great work has been accomplished by the parishioners themselves, headed by Samuel Jonas, Esq., of Chrishall Grange, and aided by their Vicar, the Rev. W. Way, and his friends, and the subscriptions of the neighbouring gentry and clergy who kindly responded to the appeal. By these means more than £2,000 has been raised. The restoration of the church has been carried on under the able direction of the Diocesan Architect, James Clarke, Esq.; and the builders, who have executed the work to his satisfaction and that of the Committee, are Messrs, Mason and Green, of Haverhill. The nave and south aisle roofs are entirely new, the clerestory walls have been re-built, the stonework of the windows generally thoroughly renewed and restored, north and south porches new roofed and floors re-laid; the church re-seated throughout, a handsome carved oak pulpit and reading desk added, executed by Messrs. Rattee and Kett, Cambridge; a very ancient tomb with recumbent figure, beautifully restored, the floors laid throughout with Staffordshire tiles, and the building warmed by Porrett’s underground stove; the lower windows thoroughly repaired, the whole of the plaster scraped off the outside walls of the church, leaving the stone rubble visible, and a substantial open brick drain carried round the building. It may here be mentioned that the peal of four bells, which had for 40 years been disabled, were on the 8th inst. rung merrily to greet the arrival of the Bishop, the tenor bell having just been re-cast.
At the morning service, the Church was well filled with a highly fashionable congregation. The clergy present (who walking in procession from the Vicarage in their surplices), besides the Bishop and the Vicar, were the Venerable W. B. Ady, Archdeacon of Colchester; Rev. G. Curry, Preacher at the Charterhouse; Hon. And Rev. L. Neville (Heydon), Hon. And Rev. A. Savile (Foulmire); Revds. John Collin (Rickling), Joseph Collin (Strethall), J. Jenyns (Melbourne), H.H. Hastie (Great Chishill), T. Carter (Duxford), G.A. Green (Chesterford), J. Wix (Littlebury), J. Bliss (Wicken Bonant), J. Barr (Elmdon), H.C. Turner (Curate of Haydon), C.J. Fisher (Ovington), T. Griffinhoofe (Arkesden), J. Poyser (Wendon Lofts), R.A Gordon (Barley), F. Metcalf (Chesterford), and J. Brewer (Langley). The laity included Joseph Collin, Esq. (Saffron Walden), S. Jonas Esq. (Chrishall Grange), C.M. Wade Esq. (Saffron Walden), J. Carter Jonas, Esq. (Cambridge), J. Wilkes, Esq. (Lofts Hall), H.M. Wilson, Esq. (Heydon House), E. Barr, Esq., L.J. Way, Esq. (Tilbury Court) and a large number of ladies.
The service in the Church was nicely rendered, the choir singing the hymns and changing the canticles very creditably. Mrs. Way presided at the harmonium. The Rev. W. WAY (The Vicar) read the first portion of the prayers, the Hon. And Rev. L. NEVILLE the latter portion, the Rev. J. BARR the first lesson, and the Rev. H.H. HASTIE the second. Archdeacon Ady assisted at the Communion Service.
The BISHOP preached a very appropriate sermon from Isaiah lviii., 12-“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: though shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” After enlarging upon the text, his Lordship remarked that great credit was due to the parishioners for the noble work in which they had been engaged, and in which they had entered with a glad heart and mind. What they had accomplished they had done to the honour and glory of God, and it must therefore be the more gratifying to them. Might the restoration of that Church be a blessing to all that dwelt around it, and through them to others far off. This was his sincere and earnest wish. One Church restoration was certain to lead to another, and he trusted that what had taken place that day would stimulate the people in the neighbouring parishes to look after their Churches.
The collection at the close amounted to £12.,5.,3. After the service about 100 ladies and gentlemen sat down to luncheon in a marquee erected in the Vicarage grounds. The Vicar presided, and after the repast proposed the health of the Bishop of Rochester, who had been kind enough, although suffering from ill-health, to take part in the proceedings of the day.
The BISHOP, in reply, said it was his duty to be present at any good work that was carried out in his diocese, and he was glad of the opportunity of being amongst them. The clergy must excuse him if he did not visit them so often as he could wish. He had a great many demands upon his time, and during the last two years he had spent very few days at home. He had now the superintendence of 900,000 people in his diocese, whereas the late Bishop had only 600,000. This was to be accounted for owing to the rapidly increasing suburbs of London, and the new churches springing up there required a great deal of his attention. That must be his excuse for not visiting more frequently this quiet rural district in which such changes were unknown. However he would not speak in a complaining state, for they had not met that day for sorrowing, but for mutual self-congratulation. The parishioners of Chrishall had nobly done their duty; when they found their church falling to decay they gathered together with the true spirit of English Churchmen, and determined to complete an effectual restoration. He begged, as their diocesan, to thank them heartily for what they had done, and he hoped their efforts would stimulate neighbouring parishes to similar good works. No clergyman could do his duty in the Church, if the order and worship of service were not so arranged, and the Church kept in such order, as to enable him to perform his duty in a proper manner. He (the Bishop) had to administer the rite of confirmation the other day in a church in which the candidates sat face to face in old-fashioned pews; the result was that, instead of listening with due reverence to one of the most solemn services of the Church, the candidates were inter-changing glances with each other. He was glad to see the orderly and reverential congregation that day all turned towards the east, and in the direction of the person who was preaching to them. That sight must have touched the hearts of those who remembered the Church in time gone by. He concluded his remarks by expressing a hope that the good work of Church restoration would continue to flourish in that diocese; that other parishes would imitate the example of Chrishall; that they would come forward as the residents there had done to help their clergy, and that a zealous and earnest spirit to promote church work would always prevail. Before sitting down he would propose the health of the vicar of Chrishall and Mrs. Way, who had devoted a great deal of time and attention to promote the restoration. Their anxiety in the matter must have been very great, but now the work was completed, they must feel proud of the result.
The VICAR, on rising to respond, was received with loud cheers. He begged to thank his friends for the kind way in which they had received the mention of his name and that of Mrs. Way. He felt, indeed, great cause for thankfulness that the great work in which they had been engaged was now completed. He felt thankful that the noble efforts made by his parishioners had been appreciated and aided (as they deserved to be) by the kind assistance of their friends in the neighbourhood, and indeed, in the county generally. Anything he had been enabled to do he had done most willingly, and he felt proud at the unexampled way in which he had been backed up by his parishioners, of whom the committee was principally composed, and who were a set of as fine open-hearted men as any clergyman could desire to have in this parish. He felt deeply grateful to them, one and all, for the manner in which they had supported him; but there were two gentlemen to whom he felt more especially indebted – one was his kind neighbor, Mr Neville, who had ever proved himself a good friend to this parish, and whose sympathy and co-operation, from first to last, had been most valuable. The other gentleman to whom he had alluded was his friend and parishioner, Mr Jonas, who had been more than a right hand to him, who had thrown himself heartily into the work, whose head and purse had been constantly employed in furthering this good undertaking, and he had no hesitation in saying that had it not been for the invaluable assistance which he had received from Mr. Jonas and his family this work could not have been carried out.
Archdeacon ADY, in proposing “the health of the Committee,” said he fully agreed with the words that had fallen from their excellent Diocesan, and trusted that the praiseworthy example set by Chrishall with reference to the restoration of its Parish Church, would act as a stimulus to neighbouring and distant parishes to go and do likewise. (Hear, hear). What they had witnessed that day proved what could be accomplished in a small rural parish like this by united effort. He coupled with the toast the name of Mr. S. Jonas.
Mr. JONAS responded, and while thanking the Vicar for the kind way in which he had mentioned his name, said the Committee could not have discharged their duties so efficiently if they had not been cordially backed up by their excellent Vicar – (applause) – who had worked hard and zealously to complete the great task which they had had in hand. The parishioners were very fond of their Vicar, and had proved themselves ready to co-operate with him in making the Church of Chrishall what a Church ought to be, viz., suitable and appropriate as the House of God.
A second Service was held in the evening, at which there was also a very good attendance, consisting principally, however, of the laboring population of the village. The first part of the prayers was read by the Rev. W. WAY (Vicar); the last part by the Hon. And Rev. L. NEVILLE; the first lesson by the Rev. J. COLLIN (Strethall, and the second lesson by the Rev. C.W. Packe (Chelmsford). A very able and extrempore sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. CURRIE, Preacher at the Charter-House, after which a collection was made amounting to £20.,18.,4.
The following presents have been made to the Church: – Two worked kneeling hassocks for Communion table, presented by Mrs. Way, of Spencer Grange, Great Yeldham, Halstead; new Bible and prayer-book, bound in Morocco, by Mrs. Curry; carved oak alms plates, by Mrs W. Way; carved oak lectern, by S. Jonas, Esq.; and carved oak chair for Communion table, by Miss Stewart.