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St Mary Magdalene Church Great Burstead with
Ramsden Crays is on the southern side of Church Street - the
main road through the village of Great Burstead - and is flanked on
the eastern side by Church Hall Cemetery. It is the original parish
church for what later became Billericay. St Cedd is reputed to have
erected a preaching cross here, making it one of the county's
earliest Christian sites (the kingdom of Essex was reluctant to
embrace the new religion).
A wooden church was built in the 600s, but that
was replaced entirely by a Norman building of random stone rubble
in the twelfth century. This in turn was largely rebuilt in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The only remaining part of the
Norman structure is the nave which has a narrow Norman window. The
north and south porches and the south chapel are early sixteenth
century additions. A spiral staircase leads up the bell tower to the
The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Little
Burstead, stands on the western side of Rectory Road, halfway
between the junctions with New Road and Clock House Road. It is set
in a picturesque but isolated rural location overlooking the Thames
valley. It is mentioned in Domesday Book of 1086 and was held at
that time by the bishop of London, whereas much of the local land
appears to have been owned by William of Normandy's half-brother,
Bishop Odo of Bayeaux.
The church is late Norman in origin, built as a
windowed oratory which was much smaller than the present building.
The roof of the nave was lower and, until the 1400s, the
entrance was on the north side, not the south. Then the chancel was
added in the mid-1300s and extensive alterations no doubt took place
at the same time. The walls are built of ragstone rubble and of
'pudding stone', but most walls were plastered in the 1950s and
1960s to mask serious weathering.
Noak Bridge Christian Centre (Central Hall),
Noak Bridge, is on the south side of Wash Road, about twenty metres
east of the junction with Barleylands Road in Laindon. It was opened
in 1905 as Central Hall Wash Road, presumably for an independent
evangelical congregation. The Basildon Glory Fellowship was
established in 1978, possibly by the descendants of the same
congregation. An extensive rebuilding project in 1999 saw it renamed
as the Revival Centre.
Living Word Community Church was, in 2011,
meeting in the Steeple View Memorial Hall, at the north-east corner
of the Willowfield and Osier Drive junction in Laindon. This
congregation was formed of independent evangelical Christians, an
increasing trend towards the end of the twentieth century when the
established nonconformist churches were gradually losing numbers. By
2020 the LWCC had moved to The Green Centre in Pitsea's Wat Tyler
The Church of St Nicholas, Laindon (North),
is on the northern side of Church Hill, a little over two hundred
metres north of the St Nicholas Lane junction. The earliest part -
the nave - existed by 1254 when the first-known rector was recorded
for the church. The chancel and south aisle (the chapel) were added
in the 1330s. The chapel was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St
Thomas Becket. The south porch and bell turret were added in the
The bell turret is a highly complex structure
which consists of two turrets, one inside the other, which allows
the timber frame to support the weight of the five bells. Two of
those date from the fifteenth century and are inscribed in Latin.
The tenor bell dates from 1588, the year England was threatened by
the Spanish Armada. The date of the bell probably explains the
popular but apocryphal stories about timber beams in the church
coming from ships of the armada.
At the west end a timber annexe was added,
possibly in the seventeenth century or earlier. This became a
priest's house, and was also home to the first school in the area -
Puckle's School, which opened around 1837. In the early 1970s the
church held various fundraising events to counter the cost of
retiling the church roof. With the building of the post-war 'new
town' of Basildon, St Nicholas lost its position as the main parish
church to St Martin of Tours.
Laindon Christadelphians ('Brethren of
Christ') met in the building at the north-east corner of the
junction between Basildon Drive and St Nicholas Lane. The meeting
was formed out of the amalgamation of Bible students from diverse
backgrounds who devoted their lives to a study of the scriptures.
Between 2012 and 2016 the building was rebranded as the Open
Bible Learning Centre, possibly as a continuation of the
Six photos on this page by P L Kessler (from
2011), with one kindly contributed by Ken Porter of Basildon
Borough Heritage Society, and three by David Robarts (one) and
Matthew Slade (two) via the 'History Files: Churches of the British
Isles' Flickr group.