"Pakenham -Village of Two Mills"
A book written by N.R. Whitwell
with permission kindly given by S. Whitwell to publish on
the Pakenham -Village web site.
 

Chapter 4 - Church Hill


The Rectory

The Rectory was appropriated by Edward I to the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds and was granted at the Dissolution to the family of the Springs, one of whom, Thomas Spring, a rich clothier of Lavenham, died in 1510. It was from him that William Spring was descended. He lived at Newe House and was created baronet in 1641. This family ended in female issue about the middle of the last century and their estates and tithes descended to the Revd. W.J. Spring-Casborne, vicar from 1778 - 1805.

Earlier reference was made to the Old Vicarage. This is because a new vicarage known as The Stowe has taken its place. The Stowe is very new, all modern conveniences, with a large meeting room and garden path which passes behind the Old Vicarage into the churchyard. It was built on part of the Old Vicarage garden.

When it was decided that the Old Vicarage garden was far too large, and preparations were taken to mark out the new building line for sale, it was discovered that the numerous winding garden paths were edged with gin bottles. These brown stone jars were ten inches long and three and a half inches in diameter, with a small neck and hooped handle. They are stamped with an eagle, encircled by the name and place of origin: O. Selters - Nassau. Under the handle is an initial and number. As they stood on end with the neck underground, only a few inches of the brown bottom protruded. They did the job of holding back soil, otherwise they were quite insignificant and would have gone unnoticed. There were hundreds of them. Having preserved M No.22 to M No.28 as good examples, the rest were smashed up, gathered with other rubbish and disposed of. The Vicars of old were certainly no strangers to Auntie's Ruin!

Meanwhile, the Old Vicarage has been sold into private hands and renamed Mulberry House. It stands next to the church and according to the 1844 Directory of Suffolk was valued at £281. The Parish was in the patronage of Lord Calthorpe and the incumbency held by the Revd. Wm. Carpenter Ray, MA. After the death of the Revd. John Casborne, who had held the living of Pakenham for 27 years, the Revd. Wm. Carpenter Ray became Vicar. He was simultaneously vicar of Boreham in Essex, where he lived - a common practice in those pluralist times.

The Revd. Charles Jones was ordained in 1816. He took his title from the Revd. Wm. Carpenter Ray and he came to live in Pakenham Vicarage. Lord Calthorpe, the Patron, added to the nine roomed house a sitting room facing south-east, with a bedroom over it. He also added a kitchen and made the present front staircase. Mr. Jones too began making changes: he increased the number of services and took a great interest in the village and his church, adding an organ and introducing the black gown for preaching. He held Cottage Lectures and organised many meetings.

After the improvements to the vicarage, it was then the turn of the garden to receive attention. This was laid out and refurnished in 1817. It was in this scheme that the box hedge alongside the footpath was planted and is still growing vigorously. In 1822 Mr. Jones married Mary Quayle of Barton Mere, who was a great help to him in his work and at the school. When their first child was born in 1823, the plane tree that stands close to the box hedge was planted to commemorate the event. The mulberry tree, from which the old house now takes its name, was old enough to be remembered by Mrs. Hollingworth, the grandmother of Mrs. Jones who died in 1784. The walnut tree, nearest the churchyard, was the next oldest and was planted by the Revd. John Casborne about 1780. There was a thorn tree (service tree) planted by Mr. Jones' youngest son Edward in about 1830, but later notes say this tree died in 1935 and was replaced by a weeping willow in November of that year. In April 1825 his second child, Charles William, was born and it was in 1842 that Mr. and Mrs. Jones had the gratification of seeing the new school, which they built on the site of the old one, finally completed. It was only three years later, on the death of the Vicar, Mr. Carpenter Ray, that upon the nomination of Lord Calthorpe, Mr. Jones became Vicar of Pakenham, having been assistant curate for 29 years.

The Revd. C. Jones   The Revd. C.W. Jones
The Revd. C. Jones   The Revd. C.W. Jones

The second assistant curate to Mr. Jones was his own son, Charles William, who was ordained in 1849 and eventually became Vicar of Pakenham in 1861.

In the notes On the Church by the Jones family, we read of the Restoration and Enlargement of the Church in 1849, for the Revd. C. Jones had improved the vicarage, planted the garden with fine trees and built a new school. Now it was the turn of the church to receive attention.

The church consisted of a Norman nave, supported on Norman arches, with a decorated octagonal lantern and an Early English chancel, - not an easy church to enlarge. He decided that the best way to improve it was to add a north and south transept. The southern one was built on the site of a previous transept which appeared to have been burnt down - the charred end of a purloin having been found in the tower wall. Unfortunately, it was necessary to destroy the Norman arch nearest the nave and substitute a large pointed one. The nave was benched, with good substantial oak seats with poppy heads at the end and the organ was placed at the north west end of the church. The west gallery was taken down.

The Lay-Rector, the Revd. Spring-Casborne, removed the unsightly pews on the north side of the chancel and had the return stalls repaired. Lord Calthorpe, a land owner in the Parish, undertook to pay for the entire cost of building the south transept and contributed handsomely to a new roof to the nave.

The total cost of restoring and enlarging, including alterations, was about £1728. Mr. Jones, his sons and sisters, contributed £300 whilst the parishioners responded liberally with a load from the Church Rates. The Church was formally opened in 1850.

Mr. Jones' planning was so good that the church had only been closed for one Sunday. A service was held in one or other portions of the building throughout the whole of this period. Needless to say, Mr. Jones did not leave the parish during the course of the work at the church.

Mr. and Mrs. C. Jones died within 10 days of one another, in 1866.

The Whistler Window

The Vicarage window overlooking the very old Mulberry tree is the famous Whistler Window which was a false window, probably a relic of the Window Tax which had been bricked in and rendered over with a smooth cement.

The Whistler Window - and mulberry tree.
This photograph was reproduced in the 7th October, 1980, issue of The Daily Telegraph, with a synopsis of Cllr. Whitwell's letter as a description.

Rex Whistler was a mature draughtsman at the age of twelve and barely in his creative prime when he was killed at the age of thirty nine.

At the Royal Academy School he was asked to leave after one term apparently because his approach to art was considered too frivolous. His professor at the Slade where Whistler continued his studies later wrote to the Academy Principal thanking him for "sending me your best pupil"! Whistler's exquisite lightness of touch, delight in the odd world around him and teasing sense of fun are all brought out by his paintings. His particular talent was for long, fantastic story-telling murals and frescoes, such as Plas Newydd, the Tate Gallery and Brighton Pavilion.

Not long after creating this excellent work of art, Rex Whistler was killed in action by a mortar bomb on the first day he set foot in France, soon after "D" Day in 1944.

It was decided to preserve the unique example for posterity. Both Laurence Whistler and Victor Bowen were consulted, with the result that after touching up, the surface was cleaned and coated with a preservative, then the local Planning Department arranged for the fixing of a window frame over the picture, which not only preserves but enhances the truly life-like nature of his painting.

It was also decided that the portrait should represent the Revd. James Challis, born in 1682 at Shimpling, of which parish his father was rector and his grandfather was Chief Alderman of Bury St. Edmunds. His twenty years at Pakenham (1722 - 1742) corresponded almost exactly with the tenure and office of Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of England.

This is certainly one of the last works of Rex Whistler. For a few weeks before "D" Day he was billeted in one of the many vacant houses along the South Coast. Brighton was the town and no doubt he became aware of the many connections the Prince Regent had with the town because he amused himself by filling in one of the walls with a painting as large as eight feet square. Fortunately, he finished it. Shortly after the war the painting was removed en bloc from the house and is now installed in the Royal Pavilion as part of a wall. This may lay claim to being the last one he did, although other claims may yet be made.

Speedy work on vicarage window by Whistler
Detail from the Whistler window
Detail from the Whistler window.
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