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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Essex

by Peter Kessler, 12 June 2011

 

 

Epping Forest Part 9: Churches of Stapleford Abbotts to Theydon Mount

St Mary's Church Stapleford Abbotts

St Mary's Church Stapleford Abbotts stands atop a steep hill on the eastern side of Church Lane in Stapleford Abbotts (or 'Abbots'). The church of this rural parish is now relatively isolated. The parish name originated in the manor being held by the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds from before 1066 to the Dissolution. The original church may have been twelfth century Norman, and certainly existed by the fourteenth century. The chapel was added in 1638, and survived the rebuild.

St Mary's Church Stapleford Abbotts

The west tower is of brown brick and was rebuilt in 1815. The door and window openings were probably altered later when the nave and chancel were rebuilt. The parapet used to be embattled, but is now finished with a tiled coping. The nave and chancel were entirely rebuilt in 1861-1862. Nearby, Tysea Hill Chapel (or Pyrgo Chapel) was probably built in the mid-1800s as a rectangular brick structure with a porch and a bellcote. Services were discontinued about 1937.

St Mary's Stapleford Tawney

St Mary's Stapleford Tawney lies on the western side of Tawney Lane, not far north of the M25 and Stapleford Abbotts, and situated high above the River Roding. The parish contains no built-up settlement, only individual farms and houses. The church consists of chancel, nave with west bell turret, south chapel, and vestry. The walls are of flint-rubble with limestone dressings. The roof is tiled. The bell-turret is timber-framed and weather-boarded with a shingled spire.

St Mary's Stapleford Tawney

The chancel was built about 1220, with the nave being added shortly after. Signs of a blocked north doorway can still be seen. The south chapel (seen on the right of the previous photo) was built about the middle of the thirteenth century. The bell turret at the west end of the nave was probably added in the fifteenth century. In 1862 the church was largely rebuilt and the north vestry, organ chamber, and south porch were added. There are two bells, of 1611 and 1630.

St Michael's Theydon Mount

St Michael's Theydon Mount stands a little way north of Bush Grove Farm and the M25, on the western side of Mount Row, a ridge high above the Roding Valley. The original church appears to have existed by 1236, at which time it was known as the Church of St Michael & St Stephen. In 1611 it was struck by lightning and burnt down. The present red brick church was built between 1611-1614 by Sir William Smith, and stood at the time within the grounds of Hill Hall.

St Michael's Theydon Mount

The church was consecrated by John King, bishop of London. In 1834 there was a 'thorough restoration' during which a west gallery was built specifically for the church band, the singers and the servants at Hill Hall, the residence of the lord of the manor. The gallery was removed in 1926 when there were fears that it might collapse. By 2011 the church seemed to be serving as a chapel of ease to St Mary's Stapleford Tawney (above), while Hill Hall is now a women's open prison.

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