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.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Gift Day at St Peter & St Paul Church, today. 10.00am to 4.00pm


Gift day, refreshments plus ...

Reeve Family Archive

The Reeve family moved to the Stondon Massey Rectory in 1849, and lived in the village for almost a century.  This archive is a generous donation by one of their descendants.  It represents an interesting social history of a well-to-do family of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Please handle these items with care.

1.                   The commonplace book of Captain Edward Reeve (1785-1867).  He wrote this manuscript at The White House, Ongar, in about 1860.  Edward Reeve purchased the Rectory for himself and the advowson for his clergyman son Edward James for £700 in 1849.

2.                   ‘Jottings’ by Edward Henry Lisle Reeve (1858-1936) written in 1881.  He was known as Lisle to his family.
“My father you know is always telling us the same old stories, and then he will turn to me and ask ‘if I remember that’.”

3.                   ‘Plauti Comoediae. Tom. I’.   Lisle was educated at Harrow School.  This book is dated September 1875.

4.                   Lisle was a keen athlete and cyclist during his youth.   The trophy shows success in 1880 in a one-mile and ten-mile race, with a contemporary photograph.  ‘Safety bicycles’ had just been invented, allowing the rider to touch the ground with their feet, and were first catalogued in 1885. 

5.                   Two books belonging to Edward Reeve.  ‘Watts’, a hymn book dated 1815.  Highlighted is the hymn ‘Give to our God immortal praise’.

6.                   ‘Prayer’ dated 1815.  The Book of Common Prayer, which then included prayers for the deliverance of King James I from the Gunpowder Treason (illustrated above), and a form of prayer with fasting in remembrance of the martyrdom of King Charles I.  These remained in the Prayer Book until 1859.  The service of Morning Prayer included a prayer for “our most gracious Sovereign Lord King GEORGE” (George III who had reigned since 1759 – and by 1815 was bonkers) and “our gracious Queen Charlotte, their Royal Highnesses George Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family” (George Prince of Wales was Regent and later, from 1820 to 1830 King George IV).

7.                   ‘Church Services’.  A Book of Common Prayer inscribed “Elizabeth Jane Reeve. Augst. 22nd 1884. With her father’s love”.  Jane was one of three daughters of Edward James Reeve (1821-1893), then Rector of Stondon Massey.  The book was given on her 25th birthday. The same Morning Prayer records “our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen VICTORIA” followed by a prayer for “Albert Edward Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales and all the Royal Family” (Albert Edward eventually became King Edward VII in 1901.  Queen Victoria’s consort, Albert, had died in 1861).

8.                   ‘Hymns for a Week’ and ‘Concordance’.

9.                   ‘Death Certificate of Edward James Reeve’ and Hymns sung at his funeral at Stondon Massey, August 1893.

10.               ‘British Museum. Reading Room’. Rules, dated 1894, reflecting Lisle’s interest in local history.

11.               ‘Stondon Massey’.  The parish history written by Revd. E H L Reeve (Lisle).

12.               Miscellaneous Papers.


The archive is the generous donation of a descendant of Edward Henry Lisle Reeve.

Available today from the back of the church are three booklets transcribing extracts from the two commonplace books on display – each booklets is priced £2.00, in aid of church funds.
-          After Dinner Anecdotes
-          Relatively Speaking
-          Captain’s Reflections

Also, the recently published ‘Revd. Edward Henry Lisle Reeve. The Last Gentleman Clergyman of Stondon Massey’

Andrew Smith
15 October 2011

Monday, 3 October 2011

'Allegri Miserere and other choral masterpieces'. St Barnabas, Great Tey. Saturday 1 October 2011


Ten powerful voices in perfect balance of sound gave a memorable recital at St Barnabas Church Great Tey near Colchester on Saturday as part of the Roman River Festival.  The Armonico Consort under the direction of Christopher Monks performed an a cappella programme entitled ‘Naked Byrd’ which explored pieces composed by composers who, according to the Director, “wore their hearts on their sleeves”, writing some of the music in difficult circumstances.  William Byrd, of course, wrote music for the catholic liturgy at a time when the celebration of mass was illegal. The programme spanned 800 years of choral music from Hildegard of Bingen through to the modern Morten Lauriden’s ‘O Magnum Mysterium’, a Christmas Matins piece beautifully sung.  

The representative piece by Byrd was the ‘Agnus Dei’ from the ‘Mass for four voices’ in a slower reading then I had heard before, but never lacking in movement and certainly not a forensic dissection of the parts employed. Other pieces of that era included Victoria’s ‘Libera Nos, Salve Nos’ from the ‘Officium Defunctorum’ and an arrangement by the director of Tallis’ psalter setting ‘Why fum’th in fight the Gentiles spite’.  It would be entirely wrong to pick a highlight from the programme because all seventeen pieces were beautifully rendered.  No single voice overpowered another.  All blended harmoniously.  Allegri’s ‘Miserere’ was emblazoned across the tickets (not ‘Naked Byrd’) and clearly was a big draw to the sold out event. John Tavener’s  ‘Funeral Ikos’ and ‘Song for Athene’ were central works in the second half of the concert.

The ‘Armonico Consort’ have been formed for just a decade and are a highly sought after choir, which is small wonder judging by the wonderful sacred sound on Saturday.  If the two CDs entitled ‘Naked Byrd’ are as good as the live performance, and I have no reason to doubt otherwise, then these will act as a marvellous memento of a warm October evening in the Essex countryside.

The Roman River Festival is an annual event now in its eleventh season. For more information visit www.romanrivermusic.org.uk

Photo: St Barnabas Church Great Tey (pictured in 1985) inset on cover of this year’s Festival programme.http://www.romanrivermusic.org.uk