The Essex Churches Site

 

THE ESSEX CHURCHES SITE

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St Barnabas, Great Tey

"the deepest Essex few explore"

 

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.


One of north Essex's most splendid moments. The great church in the middle of its wide-open churchyard. It was once a huge Norman church, but the nave was demolished in the early 19th Century, and all that remains is the truncated chancel and an annex to the west of the crossing tower.

Inside, everything is beautifully done, the ticking of a clock the counterpoint to stone floors, decorative glass, a Perpendicular font and two sets of royal arms. All in all, a quality church, and open every day.

The churchyard has a large number of cast iron gravemarkers, from the nearby Halstead foundry. The pub in the corner of the churchyard is also well worth a visit.

“The vagrant visitor erstwhile,”
My colour-plate book says to me,
“Could wend by hedgerow-side and stile,
From Benfleet down to Leigh-on-Sea.”

And as I turn the colour-plates
Edwardian Essex opens wide,
Mirrored in ponds and seen through gates,
Sweet uneventful countryside.

Like streams the little by-roads run
Through oats and barley round a hill
To where blue willows catch the sun
By some white weather-boarded mill.

“A Summer Idyll, Matching Tye”
“At Havering-atte-Bower, the Stocks”
And cobbled pathways lead the eye
To cottage doors and hollyhocks.

Far Essex, – fifty miles away
The level wastes of sucking mud
Where distant barges high with hay
Come sailing in upon the flood.

Near Essex of the River Lea
And anglers out with hook and worm
And Epping Forest glades where we
Had beanfeasts with my father’s firm.

At huge and convoluted pubs
They used to set us down from brakes
In that half-land of football clubs
Which London near the Forest makes.

The deepest Essex few explore
Where steepest thatch is sunk in flowers
And out of elm and sycamore
Rise flinty fifteenth-century towers.

I see the little branch line go
By white farms roofed in red and brown,
The old Great Eastern winding slow
To some forgotten country town.

Now yarrow chokes the railway track,
Brambles obliterate the stile,
No motor coach can take me back
To that Edwardian “erstwhile”.


- John Betjeman, Essex, 1964


Simon Knott, May 2011

               

 

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home - index - latest - e-mail
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Norfolk churches - Suffolk churches
www.simonknott.co.uk