Before reading further, please see the Fifehead Appeal page for information about the
Fund to rescue the Newman monuments in Fifehead Church


Fifehead Magdalen Church
[
See separate page for Fifehead Manor]


A delightful history of the village of Fifehead Magdalen is given in a paper titled "Fifehead Revisited - A ramble around the village in the 1840s", being as transcript of a talk given in 1988 by ex-resident Peter Oxlade. An extract from "Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset" also describes several features of the church and village. (Both these documents were kindly supplied to me by Peter Mera, Secretary of the Fifehead Hall).

The connection between Newmans and Fifehead appears to extend back to 1408 or perhaps even 1405 when John Newman (brother of Robert Newman of St. Thomas's, Salisbury) is recorded as being Rector there. According to Peter Oxlade's account, the Newmans first leased the manorial estate from its Lord, the Abbot of St. Augustine's Abbey, Bristol, from 1408. This disagrees with the information in Wayne Newman's April 1998 article in the Newman Chronicle suggesting that the first lease over the Fifehead estate was taken out in 1530 by Robert Newman of Fifehead. At any rate, the freehold over the Fifehead estate was purchased by Col. Richard Newman in 1660, after which it remained in the family until the death of Frances Newman in 1775, when it was sold (in 1779) to the brother of a vicar of the parish. Thus the Newman family's connection with Fifehead lasted for almost 400 yeas "giving a sense of stability to the village" [quoted from Peter Oxlade's 1840 account].

An 8 page brochure prepared for visitors to the church gives a more detailed account of the link between the Newmans and Fifehead.

See separate page for information about Fifehead M anor House.


Fifehead Church

     

Fifehead Church; (see also photos below of Newman Chapel)

The village church at Fifehead Magdalen is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene after whom the village is named. It dates mostly from the 14th century. Its most striking feature is the small "Newman chapel" built onto the north side of the nave in 1693. The chapel was built by Sir Richard Newman of Fifehead, Preston Hall and Evercreech (1676 - 1721), a member of the Newman family which held the Fifehead manorial estate for almost 250 years from c.1530 until 1775. [Note: the Newmans' tenue of the estate may have dated back to 1405 or 1408 according to Peter Oxlade's 1840 account.]

Further information about the church can be found at http://stourvalechurches.org.uk/churches/fifehead-magdalen/ and from Wikipedia.

Note:A photocopy of an unidentified document has been unearthed, listing the monument inscriptions that may be found both inside and outside Fifehead church. A transcription can be downloaded here which includes scans of the 'original' photocopy.


Newman Chapel - Fifehead

In the little church at Fifehead Magdalen is a small chapel on the north side of the chancel that was built by Sir Richard Newman in 1693. The chapel contains three wall-mounted memorial stones, a small one on the west wall, a larger one on the east wall, and a very large one on the north wall. All three are in urgent need of repair - see appeal page.


Newman Chapel West Wall: The memorial on the West Wall is dedicated to Richard Newman of Evercreech Park (1650 - 1682).

The upper part of the inscription is difficultto decypher, so the following transcrition is taken from John Hutchin's History of Dorset page 58:

"Richard Newman of Evercreech Park, com. Somerset, aged 32 years,
lies in the vault underneath in the (second?) leaden coffin north,
and removed from the chancell in October M.D.CXCIII (1693);
leaveing one sonne Richard, and two daughters Anne and Barbara now living."


Newman Chapel East Wall: The marble memorial on the East Wall is dedicated to Thomas Newman of Fifehead and his son Richard Newman (see below)


Memorial to Thomas Newman who died 21 Oct 1649*
photo by Chris Newman Oct 2004

The Latin inscription below (at left) is taken from the photograph above, while the crude English translation at right has been guided (loosely) by Google's translation software.
* Note - John Hutchin's History of Dorset (page 58) incorrectly shows the date on the inscription as MDCII = 1602

Thomas Newmannus sub vicino cespite requiescit
Ex generosa prosapie Newemannoru [de Newman
Hall cohr(?) Essex
] ortus
Judicio antiquus ingenio solo novissimus
Pietate in Deum charitatem pauperes insignis
In Anglia municipaliiure
Sagax non subdolus
Lex ipse sitimet perfectissima
Ultra octoginta annos corpore moratus
Supra octogenarium animo moratus
Arthritide & senectute altero morbo confect
Octobris XXI, M.D.C.IL
placide animam egit

 Thomas Newman is at rest beneath this altar,
From the lineage of Newman of Newman Hall Essex
Following time-honoured values, humble and down-to-earth
Loving God, caring for the poor
and for English law
Wise and straightforward
Law-abiding and accomplished
Over eighty years in body
But younger in mind
Suffering from arthritis and other effects of age
October 21, 1649
Peacefully passed away

Note: the words "de Newman Hall cohr(?) Essex, ortus" appear to have been inserted into the inscription at a later date - see enlarged photo below:

It is not known when or why these words were added or by whom, but perhaps someone believed that the Thomas Newman who built Newman Hall in Essex sometime around 1540 was the same Thomas Newman who is memorialized here. Given that this Fifehead Thomas Newman died in 1649, he could not be the same Thomas Newman who built Essex Hall, but that does not prove that there was no connection between the two families.


Newman Chapel East wall (continued): Memorial to Richard Newman who died 10 June 1664

The Latin inscription below (at left) is taken from the photograph below, while the crude English translation at right has been guided (loosely) by Google's translation software. See also John Hutchin's History of Dorset for an alternative version of the inscription.


photo by Chris Newman Oct 2004

 Richardus Newmannus
Thomae primogenitus in eodem obdormit sepulcr[um]
Filios Thomam flore juventutis febre abrep[tum]
Et Richardum huius momenti [com?]positorem
Huius epigraphes compositorem
Filias Annam et Janani superstites genuit
Observantia in supiores comitate in interiores
In singulos justitiam dilligenter exercuit
Viduitatem veram quadraginta quinq[ue] annos ten[?]
Patrem tam virtute qua diuturnitate imitatus
Ad amussim officii observavit
Iunii X, AD. M.D.C.L.XIIII
Hemi plegia laborans octogenari expiravit

 Richard Newman
Thomas's first-born asleep in the same grave
Son Thomas snatched by fever in the bloom of youth
And Richard important composer[?]
Composer of inscriptions
Survived by daughters Ann and Jane
Extremely courteous and observant
Singularly diligent in the exercise of justice
Bereaved[?] at 45 years
Imitating the longevity of his father
Exacting in his observance[?]
June 10, 1664
Died at eighty years of age


Newman Chapel - North Wall: Sir Henry Cheere's Monument to Sir Richard Newman and Family

On the north wall of the chapel is a monument to Sir Richard Newman and his family sculpted by Sir Henry Cheere, a Westminster friend and neighbour of the Newman family who was famous in his day for his monuments in Westminster Abbey. The sculpture can be dated between June 1747 when Sir Samwell Newman died and January 1763 when Barbara Newman died - Sir Samwell's death being recorded in the original engraving whereas the date of Barbara's death was added later (see image below).

 

Interior of Newman Chapel

Sir Henry Cheere's Monument to Sir Richard Newman and family

The following description is taken from John Hutchin's History of Dorset (Third Edition 1870) page 58:

On a mural monument on the north wall of the same chapel, on a pediment (see photo below), are three well executed busts of Sir Richard, Sir Samwell and Lady Newman, and beneath them, three female heads in high relief of white statuary marble, which rises nearly to the roof of the chapel, and the arms of Newman properly quartered and blazoned, and underneath this description:

In Memory of
Sir Richard Newman, bart., who died Dec 30, 1721.
Also of Dame Frances his wife, who died Dec 4, 1730.
Also of Sir Samwell Newman, their son,
who died June 4, 1747.
And of Frances and Barbara Newman, and
Elizabeth Kitchen, three of their daughters, who died,
viz Frances, on 27th day of August 1775;
Barbara on 6th day of January, 1763;
and Elizabeth on 26th day of May, 1774.
Sir Richard and his lady had three other children,
viz Richard, Grace and Edmonds,
all of whom died young.


Churchyard: Gravestone for Thomas Newman:

Just inside the entrance gate to the churchyard at Fifehead, there is a large stone memorial dedicated to Thomas Newman, believed to have been the elder son of Thomas Newman of Fifehead. The following is taken from John Hutchin's History of Dorset:

"The ancient burying place of the Newmans appears to have been under large yew-tree in the churchyard [photo below], where there are some flat stones and two old tomb stones. Upon one, which stands near the church tower under the tree:

THE CORPS OF THOS. NEWMAN GENT
IS HERE INTERRD APRIL V 1668(?)
WHILST TOWER REMAINE OR SPRING MY YEW
HERE I SHALL LIE AS GREEN YOUNG NEW
... RE NEWS TO US GOOD TIMES SHALL BRING
ONE SWALLOW DOTH NOT MAKE THE SPRING."

Note: When I saw the stone in 2003, I found the inscription damaged and it has presumably suffered surface deterioration since John Hutchins wrote his book. I was unable to detect the date 1668 on the stone (see photo below), though most of the rest of the text was clear enough and in agreement with that given by John Hutchin

 



Last updated 28 Mar 2017- Link to Appeal page added.
Updated 21 Jan 2016 - description of Fifehead Manor moved to its own page.
Updated 12 Sep 2015 - memorial descriptions added.
Updated 10 Dec 2004