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North Mymms Church - 140 Years of History
1762-1901

The Churchwardens’ Accounts of North Mymms
by H.M. Alderman

Chapter 4
Vicar's Surplice, Whitewashing and Rates

Surplices for the Vicar

We come to the year 1789. France was witnessing the start of her sanguinary Revolution. Here in North Mymms the vicar was in need

Of a new surplice and on:- July 14th: "Mrs. Dillin making new surplus 10s 6d"

Four years later (the vicar, Anthony Webster, had died meanwhile and John Johnson held office) we have this entry:-

1793: "Mending the Surplus 2s 6d"

Nothing further appears under this heading until- 1803. "Giles, for a surplice in 1802 £3 16s 9d"

followed eleven years later by- 1814. Sept. 27th: "New Surplice £3 4s 0d"

This is the final entry for providing surplices, but for the year 1820 the washerwoman appears in the accounts as follows:- "Washing two Surplisses 6 Timmes £1 1s 0d"

The Church Organ

The first mention of a church organ occurs in the year 1793, as follows:- "Mr Cooke - organ £128 12s 6d" "Paid Mr Grundler Playing organ £17 10s 0d" "Joseph Jesome - Blowing organ £6 6s 0d"

but the amounts paid to Grundler and Jesome must have covered about three and a half years’ salaries as subsequent entries are at £5 per year for the organist. This calculation would mean of course the organ was installed in 1789-90. In 1820 we find:- "Thos Peck playing organ 52 weeks £5 0s 0d"

Two years later Hutson or Hudson - the name is spelt indifferently in the accounts - comes on the scene and it has already been related of his being fined half a crown for neglect of his duties. He remained until 1852.

Other entries concerned with the organ are:- 1819. "Paid Bundy for Organ handle and Chimney Cowl 3s 6d" 1853. June 25th: "Paid Joseph Nash for organist to May, ’53 £5 0s 0d" 1857. Feb. 20th: "Mr Fleaming as organist (1 year) £10 0s 0d"

The Churchyard

The year 1794 sees the first mention of expenses concerning the churchyard and a well-known local name appears:- June 3rd. "Paid Thomas Pollard getting gravel for the Churchyard 8s 0d" "Teams to bring it into the Yard 10s 0d" Nothing further appears in this connection until - 1853. "Mch 24th. 20 yds. of gravel at 6d yd. from Foxes Pit 10s 0d"

The Harvest Bell

Payments for the ringing of the "Harvest Bell" frequently appear. The bell was rung to notify the people of the parish they could go into the fields and glean. Here are some typical entries:- 1845. Jan. 26th: "Paid James Skeggs for ringing bell during harvest 5s 0d" 1847. Aug. 29th: " Paid W. Groom Senr. ringing harvest bell 5s 0d" 1857. Aug. 22nd: "Ringing the Harvest Bell 8s 0d" 1860. Sept. 12th: "Paid W. Groom Senr. Ringing the Harvest Bell 8s 0d"

Whitewashing the Church

Under date 1802, July 31st, we find the rather ambiguous entry:- "Paid Mr. Giles Dukes Whitewashing the Church as by Bill £28 10s 0d"

At comparative prices this is an exceptionally large sum for such work; and the query arises if "Giles Dukes" was the name in full of the man concerned or should it be "Mr. Giles of the ‘Dukes’" ("Duke of Leeds," North Mymms Place)?

The Order of Confirmation

Commencing with the year 1803 there is an interesting series of entries dealing with expenses incurred at Confirmations

1803. Apr. 12th: "Paid eating and drinking at confirmation £1 5s 6d" 1806. June 3rd: "Mr Mason paid for eating at Confirmation £4 1s 0d" 1810. "Children eating at Confirmation 8s 0d" 1821. July 3rd: "30 Children Confirmed Beer Bread and Chees £1 6s 6d"

One wonders if the children really consumed the "beer, bread and chees," or did their elders help?

A "Credit" Entry

In the year 1804 the following credit entry appears:- "Recd of Mr Hall for Bastard Child boy who lived at Mr Burtons £25 0s 0d"

One can only speculate as to why this item should appear in the Churchwarden’s accounts as the Wardens of that year, S. R. Gaussen and Richard Mason, give no explanation.

Church Rates

1806. June: "By a Church Rate of 3 pence in the pound £67 11s 1d"

This is the first mention of the levying of compulsory Church Rates in the parish. Probably they had become necessary to maintain the fabric of the church and the services. Expenditure had increased and the sale of the Manor and the House by the Sixth Duke of Leeds in 1799 had probably had an adverse effect on the voluntary income. Compulsory Church Rates were finally abolished by Act of Parliament in 1868.

In each of the years 1809 and 1810 a Rate was levied to pay for the repairs to the tower and spire. The amount raised by each was £262 16s 0d 1821. Apr. 27th: "A Rate was granted on 6d in the Pound £132 11s 3d" 1833. "Resolved, that the Churchwardens be authorised to Levy a Rate of three Pence in the Pound for the necessary repairs of the Church, Salaryes, &c" and for the same year appears a list of amounts "uncollected"; they ranged from 5s 0d. to £11 4s 3d.

In 1848 a Rate was levied at "Thee Pence farthing," but "Deduct for land in the occupation of the Great Northern Railway Co. The Line not being Completed the company is not liable to the Church Rate." The following two years the Railway Company were again exempted.

A nation-wide agitation by Nonconformists against Church Rates was making headway, and its effect was evident in North Mymms. In 1849 the Churchwardens made this entry:- "July 28th: "Information and Summons agst William Irons’ (non-payment of rates) 6s 0d" The actual Summons issued by the Hertford Magistrates still exists - it shews the amount due from William Irons was £2 2s 5d and to this was added 10s 0d for "Costs and Charges." In 1853 the rateable value of the parish on which the charge was made is given as £7,957 10s 6d.

The first mention of church collections occurs for the year 1869-70, the total was £66 3s 11d. (As stated above, these collections would be necessary following the abolition of Church Rates in the previous year.)

by H.M. Alderman


Chapter 5 - Tower, Beadle & Church Shed
Index - North Mymms Church 140 Years of History
Foreword - Why H.M. Alderman wrote the book.

Editor's Note: The text has been left as it appeared in H.M Alderman's original work. For those too young to remember pounds, shillings and pence, the currency set out above as it was before we changed to a decimal system for currency in 1967. It works out as follows. £1 = 20 shillings (s) and 1 shilling = 12 pennies (d). So £1 10s 0d = £1.50 today and 1s = 5p.

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