The Church Plate
By far the greater part of the existing plate dates from the time of the great rebuilding in the mid to late 19th century and, in particular, around the time of the erection of the new altar in 1891. This is probably a consequence of the move to a Higher Church form of worship consistent with the views of the Oxford Movement, of which Englefield was clearly a part. An extensive inventory of 1553, six years into the reign of Edward VI, with a full complement of censers, sacring bell, etc makes clear the Roman nature of worship at that time but few of these items remained by 1907.
An inventory of about 1895 lists: a silver chalice with cover dated 1577; a jewelled silver altar cross; 4 silver vases and a pair of silver altar lights; a pair of 3-branch silver vesper lights; a silver alms dish; a silver chalice and paten; a silver paten and alms dish, the latter marked 1892; 2 silver mounted cruets on a silver stand; a pewter tankard dated 1679; a small silver private chalice and paten of 1872; 2 small silver patens of 1893 and 1895; a small silver wafer box; and a small silver bread box.
The jewelled silver altar cross noted in the inventory is engraved “To the glory of God for use in St Mark’s church Englefield a thank offering given by one on Lady Day 1892 in remembrance of her marriage day” and the flower vases carry the inscription “To the glory of God and in remembrance of Sept 27 1894”. The vases are known to have been presented by Miss Edith Benyon just prior to her marriage to Mr Alfred Hoare on the date given and the cross may well have been given by Miss Julia Benyon who was married to Mr Anthony Wingfield on 9 February 1888.
The 1577 chalice must have been introduced after the purges of the 1550s and 60s which, presumably, destroyed any earlier artefacts and is a survivor of the 1643 Puritan ordinance ordering the destruction of all plate on communion tables. This chalice is still sometimes used today.
The pewter tankard was inscribed “1679 R H & W K Churchwardens of Englefield”. These initials are those of Robert Horne and William Kent, elected as Churchwardens in 1678, who are said to have donated the church plate jointly. This plate was perhaps to replace that lost or confiscated during the Puritan period and, if the tankard is a sample, was possibly all of base metal, hence its later replacement by silver items. This tankard is also listed in the Victoria County History of Berkshire published in 1923, the only survivor of the Horne/Kent plate, but it is no longer to be found.
Much of this earlier plate may well have been in brass because a pair of brass altar candlesticks were displaced by silver ones as noted in the Local Sheet of September 1894: “A pair of Silver Candlesticks have taken the place of the brass ones on our High Altar, they bear the inscription - ‘In memory of M.A.E.H.’ Sufficient identification for the present, but the words may possibly puzzle future generations in Englefield long after the remembrance of the present Rector and inhabitants has passed away.” The Rector elaborates no further but we know that his mother was Mary Anne Elizabeth Heigham and that she had died on 16 September 1892. These candlesticks are also still in use today.
Of the displaced brass candlesticks there is no trace but a plain brass cross graces the side altar in the aisle and there is also still in use a brass offertory dish and a ewer, used to fill the font.
St Mark's Church
© 2021 Richard J Smith