Michelle Stone's online genealogy - Photographs of St. George's Church, Great Bromley, Essex, England

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St. George's Church, Great Bromley, Essex, England


Description and photos from a visit by M. Stone on 18 April 2007.

Four generations of the family of Massachusetts immigrant brothers Simon and Gregory Stone worshipped, were baptized, married, and buried at St. George the Martyr's Church in Great Bromley, Essex (then known as Much Bromley or Bromley Magna). The Stones were yeoman farmers, tilling the land they leased from the lords of various manors. Prior to that time it is believed the Stone family resided in the adjoining parish of Ardleigh (its church was only three miles away from St. George).

Simon the immigrant was baptized at St. George's Church in Much Bromley on 9 February 1585/6. He was the eighth of eleven children born to David Stone and the firstborn of David's second wife, Ursula. Simon married his own wife, Joan Clark(e), at St. George's Church on 5 August 1616. Just a few years later, around 1622, Simon and his own family would move about 10 miles away to the village of Boxted and St. Peter's Church, a hotbed of Puritan dissention. One source I've seen has stated that Simon Stone was excommunicated from St. George's Church in Great Bromley for refusing to kneel to receive Holy Communion ("A Guide to Essex Churches," Essex Tourism, 200-?). If true, this fact would explain Simon Stone's move to Boxted during perilous historical times when heretics were hanged or burned. By 1635 Simon and his family, along with other "dissenters" from Boxted, had decided to leave England for the New World, in search of religious freedom.



St. George the Martyr, Great Bromley, Essex, England



The lychgate, the entrance to the church and churchyard.





A few scattered gravemarkers in the tall grass farther from the church.



Flying the colors of Saint George from the tower.







The Virgin and Child stand guard over the door.



The church is built of "mixed rubble, brick, and flint" and is of the Perpendicular architectural style indicative of the fifteenth century. The structure includes a chancel, a clerestoried nave, two aisles, a small south chapel, a south porch, and a western bell tower.



The unknown dead.... . The church records of baptisms and marriages start in 1559, but those of burials are lost prior to 1725. Most of the gravemarkers in the churchyard are worn and weathered to illegibility, and covered with lichen.



Details of ancient craftsmanship.



Notices just inside the main entrance doors.



First encounter inside the church: "Whosoever thou art that enterest this Church, leave it not without one Prayer to GOD for thyself, for those who minister, and for those who worship here. 'The Lord is in His Holy Temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him.' Habakkuk 2. 20"



The pews, with decorative handmade needlepoint "kneelers."



This calligraphic sign reads:

The Church of St. George
Great Bromley
Points of Interest
The double hammer beam Roof c. 1500.
Roofs in South and North Aisles are 15th centy.
The 14th centy. carved capitals in South Aisle.
Communion Table in South Chapel, 17th centy.
Chest in South Chapel, 17th centy.
Piscina in South Chapel, 14th centy.
Brasses in floor of South Chapel, 1432 A.D.
The South Porch with St. George and Dragon.
Carving of Adam and Eve over South Door.
A 15th centy. Doorway on North wall (outside).
The Hats of former bell-ringers hung at extreme west
end of church - earliest 1716.
Old Pewter Flagon (1614) and Plate (1802) S. wall.
Table of Rectors of Great Bromley from 14th centy.



Looking back at the south door where we entered.











Organ pipes.



A niche for a children's class.


Ancient steps now leading nowhere.



The back of the organ pipes cabinet.







The double hammer wooden beam construction of the ceiling.



According to J. Gardner Bartlett (Simon Stone Genealogy, 1926, page 20), on 29 April 1904 a stained-glass window, "in memory of Gregory and Simon Stone, was unveiled and dedicated in the church, funds for its execution and installation having been raised among their descendants in America, through the Stone Family Association. The memorial is located in the window of the north aisle nearest the chancel. The three principal panels contain figures representing St. Gregory the Great, St. Mary the Virgin with infant Christ, and St. Simon the Apostle; the smaller main panels under each illustrate a notable incident in the life of each, viz: St. Gregory accosting the captive English children in the Market Place in Rome, the Annunciation of the Virgin, and the call of St. Simon by Christ. In small panels at the top, a seventeeth century vessel occupies the center, suggesting the emigration to America; on one side is the seal of Massachusetts, and on the other that of Essex County, England. Over all in a topmost panel is a dove, representing the Holy Spirit. The inscription on the window reads: 'Saecula praeterita in’Saecula ventura.' (The Generations pass into the coming Generations.) A metal plate below the window is inscribed: ‘To the Glory of God and to the Memory of Simon and Gregory Stone, Brothers, who were born in this Parish, baptized in this Church, and emigrated to Massachusetts in New England in 1635, this Window is erected by American Descendants.'"





"The descendants of Gregory & Simon Stone have given generously towards the cost of repairing this Church. July 1985."





Admiring the "kneelers."









Having left the church and returned outside, I turned and took a last photo of the south door.







Walking around the north side of the church through the churchyard. Note the large crows' nests in the tall trees nearby. We knew they were crows by their cawing and flocking.



The other side of the Gregory and Simon Stone window.



Last views of the churchyard.










Links to more information:

The Stone Family Association website's page on the English life and family of the immigrant Stone brothers of Watertown, Massachusetts

The Stone Family Connection to Great Bromley

St. George's Church, Great Bromley (more info on the church building)

Another St. George's webpage, showing the bellringers' hats


New England's Great Migration



Back to STONE page

BOXTED photo tour




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