Monday, 28 October 2013


A smallish church in a vast graveyard on top of a hill St Nicholas, locked no keyholder, is lovely with an extraordinary wooden 'priest house' tacked on to the west end, a really good broach spire and all round attractiveness; the only downside is its locked status. I think this would reward a return visit if it is open for Ride & Stride.

ST NICHOLAS. On a steep eminence above a sea of bungalows. A small church with a timber belfry, dark weather-boarded and crowned by a broach-spire. W of it an annexe, called the Priest’s House, C17, much restored, two-storeyed. Inside the belfry one of the splendid sturdy Essex timber constructions. In this case (cf. Horndon-on-the-Hill, Leaden Roding etc.) it is independently built inside the walls of the church. Nave and two-bay C14 S chapel with octagonal pier and double-chamfered arches. Chancel also C14. S Porch timber, C15, mostly rebuilt. However, the oddly primitive carvings in the spandrels of the archway against the nave doorway are original, a beast pierced by a cross-shaft, a dragon etc. C15 nave and chancel roofs. - FONT. Of the Purbeck type, with shallow blank pointed arcades on each side; C13. - PLATE. Cup on baluster stem of 1656; flower-decorated Paten (secular?) of 1672. - BRASSES. Two brasses of Priests, one 3 ft 3 in. long of c. 1480, the other a little over 1 ft, c. 1510.

St Nicholas (4)

C18th headstone

LAINDON. The village nestles below the round knob of a hill which Nature seems to have left for the little church that has crowned it for 800 years. The tall shingled spire on a wooden tower is a landmark for all who travel on the main road to Southend.. Climbing the steep lane, we find that a quaint timbered house of two storeys was added 300 years ago to the west end of the church, serving then as the village school and now as the rector’s room. The wooden porch of the church has been rebuilt, but has still the two original archways, one having a dragon and a scallop shell carved in one spandrel, and a beast pierced by a cross in the other. The woodwork within is remarkable. Massive posts support the tower, the roofs of the nave and chancel are splendid 15th century work, and there is carving on the wall-plates. The nail-studded door has been hanging about 500 years. The font is two centuries older. There are portraits in brass of two of the priests who ministered here in the 15th century, John Kekilpenny and Richard Bladwell. Among fragments of old glass in the windows we noticed a fleur-de-lys growing out of the head of a leopard; it is 400 years old.

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