Welcome to our Festival blog

We are a small congregation who organised a highly successful 'William Byrd Festival' in May 2011 to celebrate the life and work of the village's Elizabethan composer, William Byrd (c.1540 - 1623). In 2012 we played host to the world-famous choir The Cardinall's Musick under their director Andrew Carwood.

This website contains everything you need to know about William Byrd and his links with Stondon Massey. The church is open for services, of course, and on the second Sunday afternoon in the month during the summer.

Monday, 16 August 2010

William Byrd: Last Will

William Byrd, great composer and resident of Stondon Place, died on 4 July 1623.

In His Will he wrote:

“In the name of the most glorious and undivided Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, three distinct persons and one eternal God, Amen.

“I, William Byrd of Stondon Place in the parish of Stondon in the County of Essex, gentleman, do now in the 80 year of my age, but through the goodness of God being of good health and perfect memory, make and ordain this for my last Will and Testament.

“First: I give and bequeath my soul to God Almighty, my creator and redeemer and preserver: humbly craving His grace and mercy for the forgiveness of all my sins and offences; past, present and to come.

“And that I may live and die a true and perfect member of His holy Catholic Church without which I believe there is no salvation for me. My body to be honestly buried … in the parish of Stondon where my dwelling is: And then to be buried near unto the place where my wife liest buried, or else where as God and the time shall permit and suffer. ….

“I … ordain and dispose of the same as Followeth. First, the whole Farm [of Stondon Place] … I give … to my daughter in law Mrs Catheren Byrd for her life; upon the conditions following, viz: to pay Twenty eight pounds, fifteen shillings and fourpence yearly to mr. Anthony Lutor or his assignees for the fee farm rent. And to pay to mistress Dawtry of Doddinghurst 15 shillings yearly for the quit rent of Maleperdus freehold: Also to pay unto my son Thomas Byrde Twenty pounds yearly during his life: And to my daughter Rachel Ten pounds a year during her life. And the same payments to begin at the next usual Feasts of payment after the day of my death: …

“In witness thereof I, the said William Byrd have set my hand and seal the Fifteenth day of November in the years of the reign of our Sovereign lord James, by the grace of God King of England, France and Ireland the Twentieth and of Scotland Fifty six defender of the faith re 1622:

By me Wyllm Byrde

Sealed and delivered in the presence of Henry Hawksworth.
(Proved by Thomas Byrd and Catherine Byrd 30 October 1623)”

Andrew Smith
First published in ‘Church Matters’, July 2006

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