John Wycliffe and our churches

The impact John Wycliffe (1320s-1384) had is immeasurable.

It was he who oversaw and translated much of the first English Bible. And this then fanned a spark of the coming Reformation in England, with its implications for Christianity and literature worldwide.

His link then with us? The following is taken from the 'Roughwood British Churches Album':

There was a chapel dedicated to St Mary in the Manor House of Maresfield built and endowed by Richard d'Aquila who died in 1176. Mary's Field, hence Maresfield, seems to have been the original name of the parish. In 1372 this Free Chapel of Notlye, as it was called, was endowed with 60 acres of land and in 1372 it was included in a gift to his third son, John of Gaunt, by Edward III. John of Gaunt was patron to the great reformer John Wycliffe, and there is evidence that Wycliffe officiated in the chapel towards the end of his life when he was compelled to withdraw from active ministry and shelter under his patron's protection.

There also appears to have been another church, dedicated to St George, on the site between Nutley and Chelwood Gate, later occupied by Chapelwood Manor. It was on the site of this church, or possibly on the site of the Free Chapel, that in the mid 19th century, long after it had been used for worship, a receptacle which had been used as a drinking place for cattle was identified as the original church font! The then Rector of Maresfield had it moved to his church where it still remains, despite a few attempts to bring it to Nutley where some consider it should rest.

So although the current church in Nutley was not around then, it seems that Wycliffe ministered in the parish. More than that, he may even have used the font that now sits on the floor of St Bartholomew's Maresfield.