St James the Great, Thorley


A transcription of the wording on a memorial may be viewed by clicking on the relevant image
On the south wall of the nave is a memorial in brass to Admiral Frederick Samuel Vander-Meulen who died in 1913. Above this is a memorial to Elizabeth Carter Pennington, daughter of the Revd Thomas Pennington who was Rector of Thorley from 1798-1852. She died aged one year and six months in 1800. The inscription records that she was the great granddaughter of George Sale, translator of the Koran, and great niece of Elizabeth Carter, the celebrated poet, translator and member of the 'bluestockings' literary group. On the same tablet are recorded the deaths of her sister Mary Sarah Pennington soon after birth in 1802 and of Charles Henry Carter Sparrow, grandson of Thomas Pennington, in 1822 aged 11 weeks.
To the south of the altar on the east wall of the chancel there is a memorial to Martha Raper who died in 1725. This tablet also records the death, in 1748, of her husband Moses Raper. Adjacent to this on the south wall of the chancel is a joint memorial to John Howe, who died in 1769, and Matthew Raper FRS, who died in 1778.



To the west of the joint memorial is a further memorial to members of the Raper family. It records the death of Matthew Raper in 1748, that of his wife Elisabeth in 1760 and that of his only daughter Elisabeth in 1781.

At ground level on the north wall of the chancel there is a memorial to Sarah and Samuel Horsley, the work of the sculptor John Bacon Jnr (1777-1859). Samuel Horsley was Rector of Thorley from 1779-82 and later became Bishop of St Davids, then of Rochester and finally St Asaph in north Wales. He died in 1806. She was his second wife and died in 1805. The Latin epitaph, the majority of which was written by the Bishop himself, also remembers his first wife, Mary, the daughter of the Revd John Botham, and their daughter who died whilst still an infant. Samuel and Sarah were initially buried, together with this daughter, Harriett, under the altar of St Mary’s, Newington Butts, Surrey (now within the London Borough of Southwark). On the demolition of this church to enable the widening of the adjacent roadway, their remains were removed to Thorley and reinterred, on 18 July 1876, in a vault in the churchyard adjacent to the north wall of the chancel. The mural memorial slab, originally located over the family vault in the chancel of Newington Church, was also moved to the outside of the north wall of the chancel at St James, but, on showing signs of decay, was relocated to its present position on the inside wall, nearest to the spot where the Bishop and his wife are buried.

At the west end of the north wall of the chancel is a memorial to Mary Sarah Pennington, the wife of the Revd Thomas Pennington, who died in 1847. The tablet records that she died in Amiens, France and is buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. She was the donor of a silver communion paten which bears the inscription "The gift of Mrs. Pennington to the Parish of Thorley, Herts, 1809". On a tablet to the east of this memorial, the Revd John Horsley, Rector from 1745 until his death in 1777 and the father of Samuel, is remembered, together with his second wife Mary who died in 1787 and first wife Ann.

Further to the east is a memorial to Sir William Billers, Lord Mayor of London in 1734, who died in 1745 and to his brother John Billers who died in 1738. This tablet also records the deaths of Sir William's son John in 1740, his daughter Martha in her infancy and his son William whilst a minor. Further still to the east there is a memorial to John Billers who died in 1712 and to his wife Martha who died in 1707. Adjacent to this, on the east wall of the chancel to the north of the altar, is a memorial to Dame Ann Billers, the wife of Sir William Billers, who died in 1730 .


On the north wall of the nave, behind the font, is a war memorial on the outside columns of which are the names of those from the Parish who served in the First World War, and on the centre column those who gave their lives. It was erected by public subscription and dedicated on 24 July 1920. Further to the east on the same wall is a memorial to those who fell in the Second World War, which was dedicated in November 1946.









The Psalm Board was the gift of Mr and Mrs Percy Church. It was made of wood taken from the old Bell Frame when this was removed in 1936 to make way for a new frame.





There is an ancient brass plate on the south wall in the nave bearing the inscription "Here lyeth buried the body of John Duke who was while he lived Fermor of Thorley Hall & died on the fifth day of December, Ano Dni 1606. Who by his first wife Gertrude being buried in the parish churchyard of Sheringe had eight children, viz. Robt, Margret, Thomas, Willm, John, Henry, Ellen & Peter: but by his last wife Jane no issue."

An electric organ was installed in 1964, the gift of Marjorie Robinson, the wife of Canon Robinson who was Rector from 1946 to 1979, in memory of her mother. It replaced an older organ that had been rebuilt in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee. A number of the pipes of this latter organ were retained to make the facade. This electric organ was itself replaced in 1980 by an organ brought together from a number of different sources which was found to be of a very unsatisfactory nature, and therefore came to be known as "The Mongrel". It was removed in 2010 and replaced by a 37 Stop Two Manual Allan electronic organ.


Three of the six bells in the tower were memorial gifts. The number three bell is inscribed "In memory of John M Procter, Rector and Marian his wife - the gift of John and Constance Procter 1937". John Edward Ingleby Procter and Constance Procter were two of the children of John Mathias and Marian Procter. John Mathias Procter was Rector of Thorley from 1883 to 1909 and was succeeded by John Edward Ingleby Procter, who had been Curate during the latter years of his father's incumbency. The number two bell is inscribed "In memory of Ernest Rowland Frere and his wife Elizabeth - the gift of Patrick and Marie Frere 1937". The number one bell is inscribed "In memory of Laurie and Maud Frere of Twyford House, Thorley given by their daughter Beryl Laurie Frere 1946".


Constance Procter was also the donor of a Cross, Candlesticks and Altar Vases in silver in memory of her brother the Revd John Edward Ingleby Procter. The Cross bears the inscription "In memory of John Edward Ingleby Procter Priest. Curate of Thorley 1890-1909, Rector 1909-1937. Honorary Canon of St Albans 1930-1950. Given by his sister Constance 1955."


The reader's edition of the Book of Common Prayer placed on the altar bookstand has a plate bearing the inscription "Presented to St James Church in memory of James Henry Foreman by friends February 1961".


Each of the volumes of the congregation's edition of the Book of Common Prayer has a plate bearing the inscription "Given in memory of Albert Edward Threadgold 1902 - 1978".


The credence table to the south of the altar has a brass plaque bearing the inscription "To the glory of God and in memory of Marian M Procter Died March 21st 1923".


The Communion Ciborium bears the inscription "The gift of Moses Raper who died 1748".


A silver Flagon bears the inscription "The gift of Elizabeth Frere and Anne Frere, 1839".


The pulpit, altar rail and Rector's stall were the gifts in 1855 of Christopher Wordsworth, nephew of the poet, who at the time held the living of Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berkshire in plurality with a Canonry of Westminster Abbey, later became Archdeacon of Westminster and finally Bishop of Lincoln. These were in memory of his marriage in the Church on 6 December 1838 to Susanna Hartley Frere, the sister of Bartle John Laurie Frere. They were designed by Sir Gilbert Scott.



The Church was thoroughly restored in 1854, chiefly at the expense of Bartle John Laurie Frere, Miss Frere and the then Lord of the Manor, Lord Ellenborough. Lewis Vulliamy was employed as the architect. The restoration consisted of rebuilding a great part of the walls, putting new stone work round the windows and placing a new roof on the Chancel and Nave. At the same time the Vestry and South Porch were built, the floor of the Church paved and the whole of the Church reseated. The old Norman Font, which had been used as a horse trough at Thorley Hall, was restored to the Church and placed on a base designed by Sir Gilbert Scott. He also designed a Font Cover which was purchased out of the collection made in the Church on its reopening after the restoration on January 17th 1856. The sermon on this occasion was preached by Christopher Wordsworth, who chose as his text "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).



The stone Reredos on the east wall of the chancel was erected in memory of the Revd Frederick Vander-Meulen. It is the work of Joseph Day to a design by F. W. Woodhouse, then of the Arts Training Schools, South Kensignton. It bears the inscription "To the glory of God and in memory of the Rev. Frederick Vander-Meulen, M.A., Rector of this Parish from 1853-1882, this Reredos is erected by the Parishioners and other friends as a token of their esteem and regard". On the occasion of the unveiling of the Reredos on 5 July 1884, Christopher Wordsworth preached what was to be his last sermon before his death on 20 March 1885.

The brass font ewer was a gift in memory of the wife of the Revd Frederick Vander-Meulen and bears the inscription "Remember Georgiana Martha Vander Meulen died Feb 2nd 1897 aged 80 years".

Frederick, Georgiana and a number of other members of the Vander-Meulen family are buried in a plot adjacent to the north wall of the Churchyard to the east of the Church Room.



The lectern was the gift of Mr Jackson, an assistant Master at Bishop's Stortford High School. It was initially at All Saints' Church, Hockerill, but was transferred to St James at the time of the installtion of the Reredos.



The Processional Cross was constructed from the Altar Cross of the former Mission Room in the parish. It bears the inscription "To the glory of God and in commemoration of the Coronation of King George V 1911".


On the south wall of the nave, to the east of the  door, is a wall safe. Above this is a plate which bears the inscription "In Loving Memory of Muriel Madeline Newman 1895-1985".


A brass plate attached to one of the flower pedestals bears the inscription "In fondest memory of Val Griggs so much loved so much missed".


On the outside of the north wall of the nave is a memorial to the Revd John Cronkshaw, a curate of Thorley who died in 1788 aged 77, and to his son Robert who died in his infancy.


In the Churchyard to the east of the south porch is a Gothic monument of Bath stone that was originally surrounded by an iron railing. It marks a Frere family vault and bears inscriptions on white marble panels. On an oval bronze medallion mounted on the front is a representation of Christ crucified on an anchor. On rays of glory round his head are the words "OUR UNION". 


The Lychgate was erected by Marian Procter and her children in memory of the Revd Canon John Mathias Procter and was dedicated on April 3 1921. On the front beam is the inscription "To the glory of God and in memory of John Mathias Procter, Rector of Thorley 1883-1909". New gates were given by Mr and Mrs R. Auders in memory of Mrs Auders' sister, and a brass plaque attached to one of the gates bears the inscription 'Gates replaced 1970 in memory of Betty Mary Baldock'. To the west of the Lychgate, in the portion of the Churchyard adjacent to the north wall, are the graves of a number of the members of the Procter family.


On the east post of the gate in the south wall of the Churchyard is a plate bearing the inscription "Given in memory of Emily Hollidge 1874-1955 The Lord is my Shepherd".


The oak-shingled Hertfordshire spike surmounting the tower was restored in 1966. This restoration was substantially funded by a donation in memory of Ethel Marion Bradshaw.


Both of the entrance doors to the Church Room in the Churchyard have plates bearing the inscription "This door given in cherished memory of Roy Martin Jacobs BSc ARICS 1957-1993. Cub, scout, chorister, groundsman at St James".

In the Church Room, on the north wall, there is a further memorial to those from the Parish who gave their lives in the First World War. It was originally located in the workingmen's club and village hall.

Philip Hargrave

Database of Churchyard Monuments


Return to Church Guide