Stockton

Church History

The first reference to a church in Stockton is during the reign of Henry I, between 1100 and 1135 (the 12th century). It was founded by a gentleman named Rob de Limesi. In those days, different people (lords of the manor, important families, and so on) had the right to appoint a priest for the parish. This right passed through several families until in 1824 New College, Oxford, bought it. The College still has the right to a say in the appointment of a priest in Stockton - they are known as our Patron. The original church was probably built of wood and burnt down.Three parts of the church were rebuilt starting around 1530:

  • The oldest part is the south wall of the chancel (14th century)
  • Then the tower - may be 15th century
  • Then the arch leading into the chancel

The rest of the alterations to the church, until those we have just completed, began in 1809. It is built of brown and red sandstone.

Areas of the church

  • Sanctuary - "Sanctus" is Latin for "holy" - at the East end of the church
  • Vestry - where the priest changes into his robes - from ancient words meaning "clothes chest"
  • Chancel - the area originally reserved for the clergy and choir, when it would have been separated by lattice work
  • Nave - is the main body of the church. It has an "open collar beam" roof
  • North aisle - this is where the main door is. This was known as the "Devil's Door". A legend goes that the devil would stand by the door of the church on a Sunday waiting to see who did not attend the service. People thought that the devil could not stand outside the door in Stockton because he would be unable to endure the cold caused by the north wind.
  • South aisle - where we now have the children's corner
  • Tower - at the West end. Before the North aisle was built, the main entrance to the church was through the tower. It is in a "Roman basilica" style.
  • War memorial, window and clock- installed in memory of those who fell in the Great War (1914-1918)
  • Bells - there are three bells in the tower, dated 1603, 1620 and 1622.

Famous Stockton Clergyman

The most famous Stockton clergyman is Archdeacon Colley of Natal (South Africa). He had a glass topped coffin. At one Sunday evening service, he startled his congregation by climbing into his coffin in all his robes and was carried around the church. The reason for this was to demonstrate that he was not afraid of dying. The coffin was kept in his study and those who attended confirmation classes had to sit on it. Another of his ideas was the speakpipe. In the rectory garden there was an observatory against the wall. There was a pipe from this down to the road. The children would have to recite their lessons to him and if their answers were right, they were rewarded with apples, nuts or pennies.