St Marys Church
Tithe records show that Shudy Camps had a church by about 1200 and the priors at Nosterfield also had rights to tithes from the parish. In about 1215 Gillian of Camps, the heiress of the founders nad patrons of the church, gave it to Waltham Abbey, who retained their rights until the Dissolution in 1540.
The church (chancel, nave with south porch and west tower) is built of field stones with ashlar dressings (thin dressed stone with straight edges used to face a wall), much patched with brick and covered in ivy and some 19th century cement. There are fragments of 12th century carvings reused in the walls and the original 14th century door of the nave still exists under the modern boards. Medieval roof beams are present in the porch.
The 'Victoria County History' describes the tower as follows:
"The three story tower, its upper portion mostly rebuilt in brick though including the earlier belfry windows, has a 14th century west window, in whose spandrels are carved much worn figures of the Virgin and Child and of a Knight. The nave was apparently widened to the south in the 15th century, leaving the chancel off centre. The chancel and chancel arch date from later in that century as do the three light windows under depressed arches. The plain nave roof is probably of c. 1500. The 1496 money was left for builing 'the new house of the church'".
From 'The Ecclesiastical and Architectural Topography of England':
"In the spandrels of the west window are carvings of a man in armour and what appears to be the Virgin and Child, though local tradition affirms this latter to represent a 'double woman', or sort of Siamese twin, who left eight acres of land to the poor, the produce of which is still distributed annually".
In the 17th century those responsible failed to make good repairs to the chancel and the south windows were blocked up. In 1703 Sir Marmaduke Dayrell refurbished the inside of the chancel, installing a new partition, pulpit and desk and fixing the ceiling.
William Cole wrote a description of the church in his diary in 1742.
The Church is dedicated to the honour of the Virgin Mary and formerly belonged to the Abbey at Waltham....consisting only of a nave, chancel and S porch all tiled and a tower at the W. end in which hang 5 bells. The alter is on an ascent of one step and railed in. The nave and chancel are separated by a screen over which are placed the King's Arms and above them this sentance of the Salutation, painted on the wall, 'Glory be to God on high and on earth peace'.
On the same screen are painted the creed, Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments. The pulpit is of old wainscote and stands against the middle of the S. wall in the nave, at the upper end of which on both sides are 2 projecting stones in the shape of heads, to support 2 images. The stone font stands near the belfry. In the S. wall there is a hole for holy water and against the outside of the same wall is an old alter monument of stone with an inscription in front, but not to be read.
Sir Marmaduke Dayrell repair'd the upper end of the Church with a new partition, a new pulpit and desk, and the Queen's Arms, with all of ceiling plaistering and repairing: 1703.
In the records of 1225, the vicar was to have the offerings and small tithes and be provided with a "suitable house" and the crops grown on 4ha - ½ wheat and ½ oats. The rector's income varied from £9 in 1535, £25 in 1650 and rising to £70 in 1728. It was £170 in 1873. The house was in decay by the 1600s and apparently rebuilt by the vicar John Sparrow, who was there from 1601-1649. It was not a siable residence as it only had three hearths in the 1660s and was called a mere cottage in 1783. About 1836 it was repaired to a standard suitable for a bachelor and later - about 1873 - rebuilt in grey brick. It was sold to the Quakers in 1969 and renamed Glebe House, and used as a training centre for adolescents.
In A.D. 1919 the Rev F.F.M.S. Thornton J.C.D., F.R.G.S., J.P. for Camb abd Hon. Canon of Ely Cathedral, of Shudy Camps Park presented to the Church the large oil painting of the Entombment by Vandyke, for many years in his family, and always considered genuine, in memory of his wife Harriet Emily Thornton who, whilst placing flowers in memory of her two sons killed in the war on a shrine in the Church was suddenly seized with a paralytic stroke and died the following day Nov 1st 1918.
Canon Thornton and his two surviving sons also placed in memory of Mrs Thornton the present carved oak choir stalls in the chancel and decorated the walls and ceilings in 1919.
The stained glass window in memory of Frederick Edward Thornton, Major, Royal Scots Fusiliers, killed whilst commanding an Indian regiment near Baghdad and Archibald Clement Thornton of the Canadian Contingent who was killed in Flanders, was placed in the east end by Canon Thornton, Major B.M. Thornton, late Seaforth Highlanders and Gerard F. Thornton of 9, Mincing Lane, London, A.D. 1920.
The window has three lights - the centre light an adaption of the beautiful picture, called "The Last Sacrifice". The inscription under it is, "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows". The left-hand light represents the Diala River where the last great battlew ith the Turks was fought and is inscribed, "To the Glory of God and the memory of Frederick Edward Thornton 105th Mabratias, before the war Royal Scots Fusiliers, killed in Mesopotamia, March 25th 1917. Aged 37 years."
The right-hand light represents the ruins of the Cloth Hall at Ypres destroyed by the Germans in the war. Inscribed, "To the memory of Archibald Clement Thornton, Canadian Contingent, killed at Bailleul, November 22nd, 1915 aged 29 years.". The inscription over the whole window is: "Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends." The Chancel screen was provided A.D. 1921 by subscriptions from the whole parish in memory of those belonging to Shudy Camps who were killed in the Great War - E Thornton, A C Thornton, Clarence Anthony Christmas, Elijah Ager, F.S. Webb and Anthony Challis.
From the burial register, St Marys, Shudy Camps