The Essex Churches Site

 

THE ESSEX CHURCHES SITE

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St Mary Magdalene, Billericay

Billericay

 

Click on the 'play' symbol in the second image to see all my photographs of this church as a slide show, then click on any image in the slideshow to see it large in a new page.

Alternatively, if you don't have flash enabled, you can go straight to the set for this church on flickr.


While I was at Mountnessing, the rain stopped falling. The church there feels very remote, but this is the tipping off point into the Essex everyone thinks they know about, for within two miles I was entering Billericay by the back door.

Billericay is a large, dull and surprisingly hilly town. It has lots of churches, though none of them are of any interest. Pevsner recalls that Billericay was described in White's Essex in the 1860s as 'a decayed market town'. There are some good surviving 17th and 18th century buildings in the High Street, and the modern buildings have been designed to fit in, but the result is so dull and middle brow, and the traffic so awful, that it is hard to admire anything.

Billericay became a large town because it was designated for London overspill, and the various estates were built by competing London boroughs. It is a salutary comparison with Brentwood, a few miles off and of similar size (about 80,000 people). Brentwood grew organically as three or four towns and villages grew together over several centuries. Billericay is a planted town of the 1960s and 1970s. The historic parish church sits on the grid-locked High Street. I came here on the Historic Churches Bike Ride day, but I found it locked, no keyholder, not taking part in the bike ride. A most unusual church. A 15th century tower clamped round by an 18th Century red brick church, the whole thing forming a traffic island. I suspect the exterior is more interesting than the interior.

Simon Knott, September 2013

               

 

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home - index - latest - e-mail
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www.simonknott.co.uk