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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Essex

by Peter Kessler, 14 November 2010

Brentwood Part 1: Churches of Great Warley

St Mary the Virgin (Old Church), Great Warley, Essex

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin (Old Church), Great Warley, stood at the end of Church Lane, immediately south of Great Warley Hall (and now the Southend Arterial Road). The church existed by 1247 when the first rector was appointed in what was then Warley Abbess, probably by Barking Abbey which owned the parish. It consisted of a brick chancel, nave, and west tower, and a wooden south porch. During the Reformation items from the church were sold off.

St Mary the Virgin (Old Church), Great Warley, Essex

Shortly before 1730 the tower was destroyed by lightening. It was replaced by a wooden structure, and contained three bells. Repairs were carried out in 1803, and in 1833 a west gallery was constructed, but the village centre was shifting northwards. A wooden mission church was used in the grounds of the rector's home in 1892-1904 and the old church was closed. It was pulled down not long before 1923. The tower survived on its own until sometime prior to 1973.

St Mary the Virgin Great Warley (New Church), Essex

The Church of St Mary the Virgin Great Warley (New Church) sits in a secluded spot on the western side of Great Warley Street, midway between Bird Lane and Warley Road. The church was built on land donated to the parish by Evelyn Heseltine, who also provided the capital to carry out the construction work. This church was the successor to the old St Mary's, to the south (above), which had fallen out of use in 1892, and to a mission church at 'Fairsteads'.

St Mary the Virgin Great Warley (New Church), Essex

The new church was built in 1902-1904, making St James Mission Church redundant. In 1905 it was re-erected in the parish of Baildon in Yorkshire. St Mary's was dedicated in 1904 and is thought by many to be the foremost example of the Art Nouveau style. It is one of only three in existence today. It suffered bomb damage in the Second World War, when all the most important windows were blown out, and suffered serious vandalism in the 1970s.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler.



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