The Essex Churches Site

 

THE ESSEX CHURCHES SITE

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St Mary, Salcott-cum-Virley

Salcott

Salcott-cum-Virley south porch

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  One of my favourite Essex churches, a delightful little church in a pretty marshland village in earthquake country. The great Essex earthquake of April 1884 destroyed hundreds of buildings including wrecking a dozen churches, some of which were completely destroyed. There were two churches in this joint parish, but only one was repaired, the other remaining as a picturesque ruin in someone's garden. Despite the name, this is just one tiny village divided by a stream, and they have not been separate parishes for a century or more, but the BoE still insists on giving them separate entries.

The repaired church of Salcott is a little gem. Largely 14th Century, it had undergone a restoration about ten years before the earthquake, after which the chancel and north wall of the nave had to be rebuilt. Beyond the wire grill of the south porch the inner doors are held open with heavy weights. Come inside! they seem to say. You step into a delightful Anglo-catholic rustic church. The simple woodwork and brick flooring of the wide chancel are a perfect foil for devotional statues and candles, and the eyes are drawn to one of William Lawson's best works, the 1930 east window depicting Essex's St Helen and St Cedd flanking the Risen Christ. The window by Kempe & Co depicting the Nativity is by no means the workshop's worst, and the millenium window on the north side of the nave is interesting for depicting a curlew taking off over Salcott church and, curiously, the symbol used by the Catholic Church to signify the Millennium.

The ruined church of Virley on the other side of the creek is the church in Baring Gould's novel Mahala, described in the 19th Century as 'the Wuthering Heights of the Essex Marshes'.

Simon Knott, October 2012

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looking east looking west

Essex devotional St Helen (William Lawson, 1930) Risen Christ flanked by St Helen and St Cedd (William Lawson, 1930) St Cedd (William Lawson, 1930)
marshland light Our Lady of Salcott Salcott-cum-Virley south doorway
millennium severely damaged in the Essex earthquake Blessed Virgin and Child by Kempe
Salcott-cum-Virley plough and wheatsheaf

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home - index - latest - e-mail
links - small print - about this site
Norfolk churches - Suffolk churches
www.simonknott.co.uk