Click on the photos for a larger jpeg to study

A few notes on the history of the Annual Great Holland Fete
The Old Rectory
and its venue - The (Old) Rectory

Church Fete poster The history of the Church Fete can be traced back at least 70 years to the 1920s, from which time the Newspaper Advertisement here dates.

As the advertisement shows it has not always been known as the 'Church Fete', but it has always been connected with the Church.

As far as is known, the venue for the fete has always been the grounds of 'The (Old) Rectory' in Rectory Road (then known as ‘The Street’)
The photograph here shows the Annual Church Fete in the grounds of ‘The (Old) Rectory’ in August 1933. The children on the bridge are fishing ducks from the pond. They are:- (left to right) Unknown, ?Jones, John Peachey, Joan Ratcliffe.

This photograph is also a good illustration of The (Old) Rectory's two 'halves'.

The left (rear) half is the oldest part of the building, the original 'Parsonage House' possibly dating back as far as the 16th Century. It may, however, have appeared very differently then as it has gone through many periods of dereliction during its chequered history.

Parsonage House
Photograph by kind permission of Mrs J Hammond (nee Ratcliffe).

Research done by the late Mr K D Crook shows that the problem of the dilapidated state of the parsonage house went on for many years:-

In 1587, the Archdeacon's Clerk recorded in his Minute Book - HOLLAND MAGNA -

"Mr Salisbury, Rector - The Parsonage is altogether out of repair"

In 1650 (during the Commonwealth period) Mr Dowell (Minister) "carelessly burnt down the Parsonage barn and let the house and outbuildings run to great decay".

In 1633, During the time of the Reverend Edward Cherry, the Churchwardens presented before the Archdeacon " that the Parsonage House is out of repair" In October 1643 Reverend Cherry was sequestered "

because he boweth twelve times toward the east when he goes into the Chancel; and his sermons, which were rarely more than once a month, mostly tend to the upholding and pressing of that and the like superstitious innovations; and hath refused to give the sacrament to those of his parishioners that would not come up to the rails to receive it; and hath taught in his sermons that baptism washeth away original sin, and that all men be saved if they will and have free will thereunto; and hath been very often drunk; and, afterwards, that a man may more lawfully play, game and drink in an alehouse on the Sunday than on any other day"

(excerpt from T W Davids, Annals of Evangelical Nonconformity in the County of Essex from the time of Wycliffe to the Restoration).

If Rev. Cherry was so very bad as we read, then he must have 'mended his ways' as he was restored in 1660. He continued as Rector of Great Holland until his death in 1678.

In contrast, in the Archdeacon's visitation report of 1683 (during the time of Rev. Thomas Shaw, Rector 1678 - 1692) it was noted that

"The Parsonage House is in good repair"

By the time of Rev. Joseph Compton (Rector 1725 - 1761) we read again in his diary and notebook of accounts he wrote (c.1730):-

"When I came to the living, in 1725, ye Mansion House was ready to drop - ye barn in ye same condition and stable there was none, neither was there orchard or garden. The Chancel of the church was alike ruinous ye top falling in as my workmen were repairing it, so that what I have done in repairing ye Parsonage and chancel stands me in upwards of 300 £"

Canon J L Fisher, who at one time had this manuscript of Rev. Compton's in his possession and wrote a series of articles upon it in the Essex Review, adds (writing in 1920):-

"The older part of the present Rectory house dates from Compton's time, but the front part is a recent addition. Compton not only repaired the Glebe House but he provided suitable outbuildings and purchased half an acre of land, which he converted into a garden".

The Rectory took on its present appearance when, in 1830, it was repaired and enlarged for the Rev. Henry Rice. Rev Rice came to Great Holland as Rector in 1812, and was the first Rector to live in the Parish for 50 years. The previous Rector, Rev. Ives, had always lived in Norfolk, where he also died.

(The postcard, below, dates from c.1910 and shows the half of the Rectory which was added for Rev Rice in the bottom left corner.)

Great Holland postcard

Rev Rice also provided for a school to be built in 1862, next to the Rectory, on part of his 70 acre Grebe land. (see below)


The last Rector to live in this Rectory House was the Rev Stanley in 1963. For the next Rector, Canon K Walter, a new purpose-built Rectory house was provided.

In 1984, following Canon Walters retirement, this house (now known as 'The Mallards') was sold off and the Parish of Great Holland was united with that of St Michael's, Kirby le Soken. Since then our Rectors has resided at The Rectory in Kirby Cross, between the two Parish churches.

As mentioned, the Fete has always had connections with the parish Church of All Saints. Today it is known as the Church Fete and is organised and run by members of the church. Proceeds also go to Church funds. The photograph below shows the church in c.1910. (A further booklet about the history of our Parish church is available from, and at the church itself which you are welcome to visit.)

All Saints Church

Vestry of All Saints Church

One thing well worth noting in the garden of The (Old) Rectory before you go, is the great Turkey Oak tree, now sadly slowly dying from a fungal infection. It is believed to be almost 300 years old now and almost dwarfs the house as can be seen in the top of the aerial photograph below

Aerial view of the Rectory

Simon Wallis
Local History Recorder for Great Holland
July 1998