St. Peter-ad-Vincula, Roydon

  • St Peter's Church,
  • High Street,
  • Roydon, Harlow
  • Essex
  • CM19 5LW

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The arrival of the Coltes in Roydon

During the Wars of the Roses, which raged for 30 years, the Houses of Lancaster and York fought for the English crown. In one of the early battles, one Thomas Colte saved the life of the Yorkist King, Edward IV. The King rewarded Thomas for this by bestowing a knighthood on him, and by giving him money and lands in Essex, including the manor of Nether Hall in Roydon (which until 1401 had belonged to Waltham Abbey). Thus the 1Coltes first came to the village some time in the 1460s. The King employed Sir Thomas in various capacities, for instance it is recorded that in 1472 the sequestrated properties of the Bishop of Durham were placed under the joint control of the Treasurer, (the Controller of the Royal Household) and Sir Thomas Colte.


The chancel of any church was always reserved for the burials of the most important local people, with the graves marked by an imposing monument, an engraved stone or a "brass". When Sir Thomas Colte died, he was buried in the chancel of St. Peter's Church.

A brass was placed on the grave with various inscriptions, shields and an engraving representing Sir Thomas in armour, together with his wife. This is the oldest memorial in the church. The date of his death on the memorial is inscribed in Roman numerals as MCDLXVVI, calculated as 1471. However, the engraver made a mistake by putting a V instead of a second X - to put VVI was wrong; it should read MCDLXXVI, which is 1476, the year in which Sir Thomas actually died.


We now arrive at the middle of the second millennium, 500 years ago, a crucial period in English history. Henry VII was on the throne, and his son Prince Henry, later Henry VIII, was born in 1491. Henry VIII succeeded his father in 1509. Sir Thomas Colte had been succeeded at Nether Hall in 1476 by his son Sir John Colte, who built a magnificent Manor House of which only the imposing relic of the Gate House in Tudor brick remains. In the Colte Chapel to the left of the altar can be seen the memorial brass to Sir John. The brass shows, as was the custom, not only Sir John, but also his two wives, one on either side of him, and below them the kneeling figures of his surviving sons on the left and his three daughters on the right, the first being Jane.