St Mary the Virgin Widdington


Notice Board: 

Renewed service time

St Mary the Virgin Widdington

Please click on the link above to see the church from the air 

Ding Dong our church clock has been electrified

Sunday 11th December 2011
Our Church Bells are ringing Again!

The clock, which cost over £70. was placed in the tower in 1897, 
to commemorate the 60th year of Queen Victoria’s reign. 
 It was presented by the rector and parishioners and by people
 interested in the village, among whom may be mentioned 
Dora Mary Smith, Violet Rose Smith, Vernon Russell Smith, 
George and Susannah Hollis, George Mercer Hollis, 
George Woodcock Perry and Henry James Griffiths. 

Holy Communion
Traditional spoken service using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with a short sermon.
On the first and third Sunday at 8:30 AM for 1 hour
All Age Worship
Less formal traditional service with some more modern songs and family-friendly elements.
On the second Sunday at 11:15 AM for 1 hour
Family Communion
Common worship service with communion.
On the fourth Sunday at 11:15 AM for 1 hour

2nd, 4th and 5th Sundays 10 a.m. Common Worship Holy Communion
During the interregnum we are joining Newport for the All Age Service
which is at 10 a.m. on the 2nd Sunday of the month.


St. Mary’s

Widdington is a small traditional Essex church dating
back to the early twelfth century




 The church was refurbished in the Victorian era and is an
unpretentious, lovingly maintained, traditional building
with a peaceful ambience.



Church sketch dated 1817 

A pencil sketch of our village church back in 1817; this sketch
was drawn before the new clock tower and the internal restoration works
By Miss Sterry 1817 

Rev. Wasey Steery was an Anglican clergyman  in 1777 he became vicar of Henham, Essex,
He and Eleenera  had two daughters 
Ellen Steery, born 20-May 1777
Mary Steery, born 25-Apr 1778

Mary Steery, could be the artist, signed MS 1817


South view of Widdington Church before restoration and the
grave yard was extended to the south

Our church with its wooden steeple back in 1650  
Well this is what I think it could have looked like.

 In the sixteenth and seventeenth century the church fell into 
disrepair and the living was so poor that frequently no vicar 
would accept the post. There was a period of re-building in the eighteenth century
but by 1850 the church was again in a state of disrepair.
 Apart from the chancel the church was practically entirely rebuilt in 1858-9 
Church Restoration

WIDDINGTON, St. Mary (1865-1873)
Plan of  New Bell Tower marked in red & Restoration  

Builder Edward Brown from Kings Lynn

Ground plan created by Mr E CHRISTIAN, (Architect)


He was born 20th September 1814; died 21st February 1895.
Mr Ewan Christian, the eminent architect, was a Manxman by descent,
(Isle of Man Manx) belonging to the family of Christian of Milntown.
During his long and busy life he designed about 40 new churches,
200 parsonage houses, numerous schools, country houses, banks,
and business premises. He also restored nearly 150 churches
But these figures by no means give the full extent of his influence
in the ecclesiastical buildings of the last half-century. Mr Christian
since 1850 had been the consulting architect to the Ecclesiastical
Commissioners of England, His last important work was the addition
to the National Gallery, London, to form a National Portrait Gallery,
at a cost of £80,000, he received the gold medal given by the
Royal Institute of British Architects. In replying he said: " Mine has
been a life of independent service, not of exploits. My highest ambition
has been that of doing to the best of my ability the duty from time to
time set before me to accomplish, and of maintaining unsullied in
every sense the high character of an honourable and independent
architect. " This describes his character and his aim in life worthy
of all respect, worthy of imitation by all.

Reverend W. Holman  1720,
According to the Reverend W. Holman who wrote in about 1720,
That the Monks of priors Hall and the owner of the Widdington Hall,
Who had their own small chapel decided to build a church
in the village, this was erected in the early 12th century,
and dedicated to  St. Mary the Virgin.

In 1594 the church was in a sorry state of decay.
In a Visitation held in 1686  (1.)  It was reported that
the tower of the steeple is cracked.

Things were allowed to go from bad to worse, for the
parish register under the date 15th May 1771
contained this entry: the whole steeple from top to
bottom, with ten feet in breadth of both sides of the
body of the church, fell down.
Three brass bells out of the five were dug out
of ye rubbish unhurt,
With the tower down there was a big hole in the wall
and damage to the roof.

To pay for the church repairs the then churchwarden sold
the bells and with the proceeds. built from red brick a
new end wall. The roof was patched and a new dovecote
was placed on top with a small bell hung in it.



May 31 – July 2

After the angel Gabriel had announced to Mary that she was
to become the mother of Our Lord, Mary went from Galilee to
Judea to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth, soon to be the
mother of John the Baptist. This visit is recorded in
Luke 1:39-56. Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words, "Blessed
are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."
Mary burst forth with the song of praise, which we call the
Magnificent, beginning, "My soul proclaims the greatness
of the Lord." We are told that even John the Baptist,
still unborn, leaped for joy in his mother's womb. Thus we
are shown, side by side, the two women, one seemingly too old
to have a child, but destined to bear the last prophet of the
Old Covenant, of the age that was passing away; and the
other woman, seemingly not ready to have a child, but
destined to bear the One Who was Himself the beginning of
the New Covenant, the age that would not pass away.

It is this meeting that we celebrate today.

Brass effigy

In 1872
This little 14th century Brass effigy was found
 beneath the old stone church floor.
When the brass civilian was discovered it
was still affixed to its stone slab.
After the restoration it was affixed to the north
wall of the Nave,  where it can be seen to this day

I found a snippet suggesting the brass effigy is of

John Greene, 1400- 1473 : Speaker of the House of Commons 1460

He originated from 

After marring Anges Duke, of Widdington Hall, and maybe after her 
fathers death he took over the Hall and made Widdington his home

He was a gentleman of great worship

and a patron of the our church.

He married John Duke's Doughtier , Agnes Duke, of Widdington Hall,

John Green, who died on the 1st May 1473 was buried in Gosfield, Essex,

His brother David was Parson of Little Samford, Essex,

The dress and hairstyle is of that era 

When i decided to make an Oak garden gate for my cottage,
 I copied and caved the effigy for the centre oak panel.
You can see the making of the gate here. 




The Green Man
One of the best kept secrets of the medieval churches of Essex is the Green Man. 
These old Churches are frequently inhabited by a mysterious carving of an ancient male head, with foliage emerging from its
mouth, ears, nose or eyes 
we call him the Green Man.
St Mary the Virgin Widdington, has its own 13th century Green Man, Its  tucked away next to a window in the chancel under
hundreds of years of whitewash you can still make him out his bulbous ugly head. 
It would be fantastic if we could peel back the years of whitewash and show him off to his former glory.

If you would like to find out more about the Green Man then there is a fascinating book

The Hidden Green Man in Essex by Susan Hegedus,
our little Green Man is illustrated in it and well worth a read..


Our 13th century Piscina is built into the wall right hand side of the Alter. 
A piscina is a shallow basin placed near the altar of a church, used for washing the communion vessels and carring away the water.

1903 Window in memory of John Moore Dillon - He shall give his angels charge over thee

From the Village Chronicle

The Rev. court was our vicar, a most remarkable man, and a book could be written about him.  He was very old then, and sometimes the same hymns were given out twice, as he swayed in the pulpit.  You may recollect the stained glass in the Church of a sundial (very unusual) it was taken out in the last World War and kept in the Old Rectory in case of damage and put under a cushion.  One day, forgetting it was there, Court sat in the chair and cracked it, and so you see it like that now, but back in its former place!




Unusual doorstep.
In time gone by when funds were tight it was common
practise to use anything at hand for repairs



 The clock, which cost over £70, was placed in the tower in
1897, to commemorate the 60th year of Queen Victoria’s Reign.

It was presented by the Rector and Parishioners of Widdington



Thanks to P.S for this picture 


The building is an open church which is frequently visited
by people seeking a place for prayer or quiet reflection.
It stands in its own, well-maintained, open churchyard.
St. Mary's is now the only place of worship in the village.



Francis Smith 1874 presented the lychgate

Francis Smith 1811-1880


 A Lychgate is a covered open structure, found at a church entrance.
The structure normally consists of four or six oak posts embedded
in the ground in a rectangular shape. On top of this are a number
of beams to hold a steeply sloping straight-pitched roof covered
in wooden or clay peg tiles.


The name is derived from the Saxon Lych meaning "corpse" and
gate meaning entrance. Hence corpse entrance.


lychgates were built from about the mid 15th century.
It was the custom at that time for the priests to conduct the
first part of the funeral service under its shelter.

The rich were the only people buried in coffins most people were
buried in just shroud the dead were carried to the lych gate and
placed on a large flagstone or on a bier, for the
priest to start the funeral service.

(A bier was often a wooden board on which the dead were placed)




The Great Storm 1987



A wonderful drawing of our Church,
 anyone know who the artist is? 


 Widdington (St. Mary) WIDDINGTON (St. Mary), a parish, in the union
of Saffron-Walden, hundred of Uttlesford, N. division of Essex, 8 miles (N. N. E.)
from BishopStortford; containing 377 inhabitants. It comprises
2087a. 2r. 37p., of which 1375 acres are arable, 337 pasture,
and 248 woodland. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's
books at £25, and in the gift of W. J. Campbell, Esq.: the tithes
have been commuted for £570, and the glebe comprises 42 acres.
The church, a small edifice of stone, partly rebuilt with brick,
retains several details in the Norman style


THE EXAMINER A Sunday News paper: Sunday 15th November 1818 
Marriages 1818
On Thursday at St Andrew's Holborn, the Rev. Richard Birch Rector of Widdington and Bradwell Essex to Elizabeth second daughter of the late William Webb Esq of Great James street Bedford row.

WW1 Triple Award Winner MID MSM Croix de Guerre ASC Rector of Widdington,

ss-5509 Staff Sergeant John Thomas Stevens first landed in France on 19 May 1915 and was attached to the 14th Division HQ.

He was MID LG 15 June 1916 

Following year he was awarded his MSM on LG 4 June 1917. Finally he was awarded a Croix Du Guerre by the King of the Belgians LG 2 Sept 1919 Page 11244

He was Born in Bexhill on 16 April 1887 and by the time the 1st WW broke out he had been a Solicitors Clerk in the town for 16 Years. After the War he got a place at Worcester College, Oxford where he gained a BA in Modern History with Distinction in 1921. The following year he got a Diploma in Theology with Distinction. He became Chaplain of St Andrew's Hospital in 1926 to 1950 a large asylum in Northampton and was Rector of Widdington, Near Saffron Walden in Essex from 1950.

  New Page 14/06/10

 Church Register 1666 to 1756

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