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The Friends of St James have undetaken a survey of all the monuments in the Churchyard of St James the Great, Thorley and have just made the resulting database avialable to all on their Website .

The database is organised in alphabetical order, first by Surname and then by First Names. A given entry indicates, by means of the letters G and A, whether it relates to a Grave or Ashes. It also gives the date of death and the age of the individual concerned, when these are known, together with a full transcription of the wording on the associated monument. The Section of the Churchyard where the interment is located is indicated by means of a capital letter in the range R to Z. Each such Section has been divided into rows, indicated by a lower case letter, and each row further divided into numbered plots. The Website also includes a Churchyard Map indicating the location of each Section. On clicking on a particular Section a detailed map of the area will be displayed, enabling the precise location of an interment to be viewed.

Church History

There is a picture (47 kbytes) of the parish church of St. James the Great, Thorley; supplied by Ian Rose.

Church Records

The Parish Registers for the periods:-

are deposited at Hertfordshire Record Office, County Hall, Hertford, SG13 8DE. [D/P108]

Entries from the Marriage Registers for the period 1539-1837 are included in The Allen Index at Hertfordshire Record Office.

The period 1539-1875 is covered by the IGI.

Transcripts of the parish registers for the period 1539-1961 are deposited at the Society of Genealogists, 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, LONDON, EC1M 7BA.

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Description and Travel

"Thorley. Through the lychgate at the end of the lane we come in the shade of tall pines, limes, and ancient yews to the old church humbled a little by its coat of plaster, but with a 15th century tower, a 14th century chancel and a 13th century nave. We enter through a Norman doorway with twisted shafts and scalloped capitals; there is another tiny Norman doorway opening to the tower starirs inside, its delicate capitals probably carved by the craftsman who made the font. The piscina and the triple sedilia are both 14th century.

"Thorley had as rector the brilliant Samuel Horsley who lies here, his coffin having been brought from St. Mary's. Newington Butts, when that church was pulled down to make room for a railway. Born in 1733, he lived till after the Batle of Trafalgar in spite of his quarrelsomeness and eccentricities. He would make bitter speeches at stormy meetings of the Royal Society, attacking Sir Joseph Banks as President, and at one of these meetings, pointing to the mace on the table, he shouted: "when the hour of secession comes the president will be left with his train of feeble amateurs and that toy upon the table, the ghost of that society in which Philosophy once reigned and Newton presided as her minister." He also had a bitter controversy with Joseph Priestley, the discoverer of oxygen, which began in a Good Friday sermon and lasted 12 years. He was clever enough to learn Latin wihtout a master in his youth, and in his old age he woudl ride about in a coach and four. He believed that Napoleon would set up a a Messiah. As a preacher he was powerful and eloquent and a great force, but he was pompous and irritable."

[From Hertfordshire, Arthur Mee , Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1939]
"Thorley. Chill landscape of wispy woodland, straggling hedges and enormous bare fields on the western edge of expanding Stortford. Drab ribbon development oa A11, and (3/4 m W.) at the end of a muddy lane the medieval and Georgian Thorley Hall shares a romatic setting with the church of St. James. This is flint clad in lime wahed cement, with only a spired tower and stonework left untouched. Sculptured Norman doorway, ancient lancets, Victorian tracery, robust Georgian headstones and gloomy evergreens are sharp against the dazzling whiteness. Recalls the background to Hughes's Pre-Raphaelite Home from the Sea."
[From Hertfordshire (a Shell Guide), R. M. Healey , Faber & Faber, London, 1982]
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There is a large site: Bishop's Stortford and Thorley - A History and Guide. "Comprising 150 pages; 750 photographs and upwards of 130,000 words" constructed by Paul Ailey.
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