News & Events – Church Visits

February 2020

A sunny but chilly Wednesday saw the group visit St Laurence & All Saints Church in Eastwood.  Despite attempts by the ever expanding Southend airport to move this grade I listed church, it remains firmly in its original location albeit a handshake away from the departing and arriving planes.    The earliest record of St Laurence Church is in 1100 AD when Robert of Essex, the founder of Prittlewell Priory, granted to the Priory the Church of Prittlewell and the Chapels of Eastwood and Sutton.

Beryl gave us an interesting brief history of the church from its origins through Norman times to today and their more recent tussles with the airport authorities.  We were shown some graffiti from hundreds of years ago (some things never change!), four crown posts in the roof structure,  the pagan stone, Norman Font, Tudor porch, Saxon tombstone cover now used as a window cill and heard the story of the criminal, who having stolen three pigs, was condemned to be hanged but then, after the rope broke and he escaped to seek sanctuary in the Church, pardoned.

We were all somewhat surprised to hear how women wanting to be married at the Church were required to wear metal head and arm constraints as they were led into the church (you’ll be pleased to hear no longer practised); but the local blacksmith was also put to better use creating some lovely ornamental ironwork for the doors – see photos:

October 2019 – St Mary & St Edward’s Church, West Hanningfield

This month the group met at the above church for what turned out to be a very interesting venue. The church has served the village for over 800 years and is a fine example of the development of rural Essex church architecture from Norman origins through to the present day. The timber belfry is, in itself unusual, as one of only 6 freestanding wooden belfries. The road that passes the church was on the original pilgrim route to St Peter’s at Bradwell on sea.

This village, close to the reservoir, is well worth a visit if you want to step into the past. 

After a very interesting and informative talk the group retreated to the Three Compasses just up the road where we enjoyed a a hearty lunch in a “old pub” atmosphere. this pub dates from 1425 and has a record of landlords from 1758.

Thank you to Ursula and Peter for arranging the visit.

Mike Plummer

June 2019

The church visit group went to St Saviours church in Kings Road, Westcliff-on-Sea for their June visit . Two of the groups members were married there and one man is in the choir.
St Saviours was built in stages in the early part of the 20th century. Worship commenced on the site held in a marquee, first service on 1 July 1906. The first church was being constructed during this period a bell tower planned but was never built.
The church hall was completed in 1906 and was used as the first church on the site. It was dedicated by the Bishop of Barking. The current church was completed in 1911 but alterations inside have taken place subsequently. In 1928 the Parish Council agreed that women could join the choir, maximum of 5!
A former church warden Bob gave us an interesting talk and we were then able to wander around the church and enjoy it . The average congregation number is 50.
Everyone agreed the church had a lovely friendly atmosphere  and many of us felt we would like to attend a service.
After our visit our Group Contact suggested we give ‘Surf’on the seafront a try for lunch .
18 of us took over the cafe and again we were impressed with the friendly service and  nice food. All in all a friendly day!


We went to Foulness Island at the beginning of September and visited the Old School now the Heritage Centre, had a tractor and trailer around the island and looked at the deconsecrated church and the graves there. There were 3 war graves from the Great War and these were unknown sailors lost at sea and washed up on the island.






St. Mary’s Hospital Chapel

In August we visited St. Mary’s Hospital Chapel in Ilford. This was founded circa 1145 AD by Adelicia, Abbess of Barking, as a hospice for 13 aged and infirm men and is a lovely building. We then continued to Barkingside to the Barnardo’s Church there. This was the church attached to the Barnardo’s Children’s Home and the pews are child size. The stained glass windows are all of children from the bible. Some of the buildings have been retained, but are now a private estate. There is a memorial to Dr. Barnardo in the grounds.