In 1854 J. F. Wright of Kelvedon Hall wrote to Dr.
Tavarez, the Roman Catholic
priest at Brentwood, in reply to
a request to furnish information concerning the history of
Roman Catholic worship in the Kelvedon Hatch area.
'At Kelvedon Hall, where my family have resided for
upwards of 300 years I have little doubt (though I have
no positive proof of the fact) that a priest was maintained
during the greater part of that time, though possibly
only at intervals during times of persecution. The
inscription on the ciborium belonging to Kelvedon
Hall chapel (Ora pro Eugenia Wright 1710) is pretty
good proof of there having been a priest and chapel
then.' (fn. 88) The family tradition here stated was probably
well founded. In 1605, when William Byrd of Stondon
Massey (q.v.) was presented to the archdeacon as a
Popish recusant, it was also urged against him that he
had led astray John Wright of Kelvedon, the son of the
then lord of the manor and later to become lord himself, and his sister Anne, into the same heresy. (fn. 89) This
may be evidence that the Wrights were not Roman
Catholics between the time when they acquired the
manor and the end of the 16th century. It has not
been definitely established that they were Roman
Catholics throughout the 17th century; Bishop
Compton's census (1676) lists no Roman Catholics in
Kelvedon Hatch. (fn. 90) But for the 18th century there is
confirmation of J. F. Wright's statements. John Wright
of Kelvedon Hall was registered at quarter sessions in
1717 as a papist, and so also was his son John Wright
the younger. (fn. 91) Eugenia, widow of John Wright of
Kelvedon Hall, was similarly registered in 1731 and
another John Wright in 1761. (fn. 92) In the 17th and 18th
centuries the Wrights, although they held the advowson
of Kelvedon Hatch, do not appear to have presented
to the rectory themselves except in 1607. (fn. 93) Priests
from the Jesuit College of the Holy Apostles also appear
to have visited Kelvedon Hall regularly in the middle
of the 18th century. (fn. 94) Continuing his letter to Dr.
Tavarez, J. F. Wright stated that his family left
Kelvedon Hall in 1788 for a few years. 'In consequence
a small chapel was fitted up in a room in a farm-house
on Kelvedon Common and the Revd. Richard Antrobus,
then the priest at Wealdside (in South Weald), used to
attend there at Indulgences, for the accommodation of
the Catholics about here.' (fn. 95) J. F. Wright went on to
describe the return of his family to Kelvedon Hall in
1799 and gave the names of three Roman Catholic
priests who lived there as chaplains between 1799 and
1813, when his grandfather again left the hall. (fn. 96) There
was no resident priest there after 1813. The few
Roman Catholics in Kelvedon Hatch were served by
the priest at Ingatestone Hall and later by the priest
in charge of the church at Brentwood, opened in 1837.
In J. F. Wright's own time the private chapel at
Kelvedon Hall was again in use for Catholic worship.
In 1857 he was again corresponding with Dr. Tavarez,
this time about the proposal to install a confessional in
the chapel. He told Tavarez that he considered that
the chapel was too small for the secrecy of the confessional to be maintained-'and where the confessor
is at all hard of hearing the danger is still greater'. And
he was further unwilling to obey an order by Archbishop Errington to destroy some old altar stones in
the chapel. (fn. 97) 'I beg to say that they will never be used
and that they take up very little room. As for saying
"cui bono" do they remain, that, I submit concerns me
alone and I do not hesitate to say that ... they have
acquired an interest from the fact of their having been
here for several generations.... It is I think no improbable supposition that over some of them mass has been
celebrated in times of persecution by priests who subsequently became martyrs.' Wright concluded his
letter with a dignified reproach: 'Into these feelings,
however, I cannot expect you to enter, as you cannot
feel as we English Catholics do on these subjects, who
know with how much trouble and difficulty our religion
was kept alive in England in former days.' (fn. 98)
Roman Catholic worship no doubt continued to be
held at Kelvedon Hall during J. F. Wright's life-time
and while his nephew and successor, E. C. Wright,
lived at the hall. The chapel at the hall, which was
dedicated to St. Joseph, became disused during the
occupation of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Jones, but was again
taken into use and was restored during the years when
the hall was occupied by St. Michael's School. (fn. 99)
||R.C. Parish of Brentwood, MSS.
Book. Inf. supplied by Revd. B. C. Foley.
||E.R.O., D/AEA 23, quoted in A. C.
Edwards, English History from Essex
Sources, 1550-1750, 13.
||See Table on p. 311.
||E.R.O., Q/RRp 1/12, 21.
||Ibid. 3/4, 4/6.
||Newcourt, Repert. ii, 352. And see
E.R. xxvii, 73-76.
||R.C. Parish of Brentwood, MSS.Book.
||As to the first chaplain, John Clarkson,
J. F. Wright's statement is confirmed by the Register of Papists' Meeting Places: E.R.O., Q/RRw 3.
||George Errington (1804-86), Archbishop of Trebizond in partibus (1855),
was co-adjutor to Cardinal Wiseman,1855-62: D.N.B.
||R.C. Parish of Brentwood, MSS. Book.
Kelly's Dir. Essex (1914 f. and 1933).
And see Manors.