Submission to Stambourne Parochial Church Council
This paper sets out the views in January 1995 of Dr J B Enticknap, a warden of the church of
Saint Peter & Saint Thomas in the Parish of Stambourne in Essex
on our unique double dedication. These views are derived from seven pages of information from some 900 years, though much of the data are negative.
Our primary dedication is now and has been since the earliest records to the great apostle
Saint Simon Peter
Our massive squat Norman Tower of 1085 was probably built originally for defence. The early records are close to that time and probably indicate when it was first used for ecclesiastical celebrations.
Wills & deeds of XIIc to XVc use this as the sole dedication. The first known to me was witnessed by Dean Gilbert de Gelham; this deed is our oldest connection with the major parish of the five in our newly conjoined benefice.
Thus, dedication to St Peter clearly pre-dates our subsidiary dedication.
This secondary dedication is to the minor, but fully canonised, Saint
Thomas Becket, Archbishop & Martyr of Canterbury
This dedication was acquired, along with a small bell inscribed
“Sancte Thoma ora pro nobis”
from a suppressed Gild chapel situate on the south side of the road leading from our church to that of St Andrew in Great Yeldham in about the Year of Our Lord 1549.
By this time we had been a Royal Living for a decade. In response to the Henrician ukase our loyal subjects would have suppressed the name of Becket while, doubtless, venerating the Saint in their hearts. The dedication to St Thomas, without qualification, has been in variable use ever since. The inscribed bell was recast in 1734; the new one bears no text. I find no records in the XVIIc. In the XVIIIc both names appear, with Thomas taking precedence. XIXc divines seem to have used Thomas exclusively. The double dedication, with St Peter in his rightful pre-eminence, is regularly used from some time after the beginning of XXc.
A majority of our records, from the earliest times, do not use the name of either Saint. For example, a Pope, several kings, an Archbishop and several Diocesans, the clerk of the Rolls, three patrons, three silversmiths, a testator and many others have all used variants of, simply, Stambourne Parish. Neither Saint’s name appears in any part of the church fabric or property now surviving made before 1946. In our paper records the earliest mention of St Thomas is in Master’s appeal of January 1874.
It seems to me that dedications, while not much in every day use in rural parishes, were historically what the local divines said they were to be. Our present Rector celebrates 29 December. We have three times had Eliot’s version of Becket’s Christmas sermon read to us.
It is my view that we should formalise our unique double dedication in the form of
Saint Peter & Saint Thomas Becket
by whatever means are ecclesiastically and in canon law appropriate.
Dated: The second Sunday after Epiphany in the Year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred & ninety five.
Return to Chapter 2 – Early history