The past of the Church on the Hill

St Andrew's churchThis much we know for sure: in 1158 King Henry II gave some land in Havering to the monks of Montjoux. The gift was to thank them for the safe passage for his envoys and pilgrims across the Alps. The value of the land was £25 per year. Before that date very little is known about Havering because it was owned by the King. There is therefore no reference in the Doomsday Book.

Five years after the gift (1163) the monks of Montjoux, who were based at the St Bernard's Pass, built a priory. A prior and twelve monks from Montjoux came to live here. The priory flourished for another two hundred years.

Records in New College, Oxford show that a grant was paid to the church in Havering and the present nave probably dates from this time (1243). This is the first recorded reference to the Church being dedicated to St Andrew.

1391 was a very important year for St Andrew's. The boy King, Richard II (of original 'poll tax' fame), needed finance to pay for the strife between the Crown and the Church. He decided to confiscate lands that were owned abroad; one such piece of land was St Andrew’s.

Because St Andrew's was such a successful establishment under the direction of the monks, William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, bought it from the King to endow his new College in Oxford. Not only did he buy the priory but he also purchased all its lands and manor houses in Havering, but "known as Hornchurch".

Included in the purchase was the advowson; this was the right for New College to appoint the Vicar of their choice. It was therefore at this date (1391) that the Priory became a parish church and is still flourishing as a Parish Church.

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