The Essex Churches Site

 

THE ESSEX CHURCHES SITE

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St Michael, Kirby le Soken

Kirby le Soken

Kirby le Soken

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  Kirby sits between the large village of Thorpe-le-Soken and the jolly seaside town of Walton-on-the-Naze, a quiet little working village, its church set back from the village street. The churchyard is pleasingly crowded with trees and shrubs and you don't get your first sight of the church until you are quite close to it. And yet it is a surprisingly large church, or I should say that this is the impression from the outside, and it is largely a result of a very early 19th Century restoration of the 1830s, which is to say Georgian rather than Victorian.

As Pevsner notes, the great tower was 'improved after the fashion of the day', the architect being one Joseph Parkins. Quite how much of his fashionable work was reversed by the later restoration in the 1870s is impossible to tell, but viewed from the north this is essentially a 15th Century East Anglian church with knapped flint as the main material. However, going around to the south side gives a quite different inpression because in the 1870s the chancel and south aisle were rebuilt and the material used was river rubble, mostly puddingstone and septaria.

Stepping inside is as if to step into a jewel, because the church has one of the most extensive collections of glass from the second half of the 20th Century in the whole of Essex. Workshops include Townshend & Howson, A L Wilkinson and above all Rupert Moore working for the Whitefriars studio in the late 1960s. The glass was installed during the long incumbentship of John Wesley Thomas, vicar here from 1940 to 1972. He is buried in the churchyard. The glass is generally figurative, depicting saints, and while it might be possible to bemoan the fact that it is all fairly safe stuff, with none of the more exciting workshops of that period represented, it all works together as a harmony, quietly suited to this pleasing church in its peaceful tree-shrouded surroundings.

Simon Knott, May 2020

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looking east glow glow
and the word was made flesh crossed scythe and broom this do in remembrance of me Angels at the Nativity by Francis of London, 1872
St Aidan St Osyth by A L Wilkinson, 1962 St Cecilia by Rupert Moore, 1970 St Cedd
St Walstan by A L Wilkinson, 1962 St Osyth by A L Wilkinson, 1962 St Elizabeth of Hungary by A L Wilkinson, 1962 St Fiacre by A L Wilkinson, 1962
St Michael by A L Wilkinson Nativity by Francis of London, 1872 St Francis and a rabbit Christ with Martha and Mary by Rupert Moore, 1970
Noah, a man of the soil the harvest truly is great a sower went forth to sow by Rupert Moore, 1970 Christ in the Carpenter's Shop by Rupert Moore, 1970
Giovanni da Palestrina by Rupert Moore, 1970 St Ambrose by Rupert Moore, 1970 Johann Sebastian Bach by Rupert Moore, 1970 St Gregory by Rupert Moore, 1970
Christ in the carpenter's workshop by Rupert Moore 1970 Adoration of the Magi and Shepherds by Francis of London, 1872 St Cecilia flanked by St Ambrose, St Gregory, Palestrina and Handel by Rupert Moore, 1970

               

 

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