The Parish Church of St Mary Salcott Virley. A short history.

Essex is fond of groups of villages with a common name; there are three Layers, three Tolleshunts, four Colnes, and three Teys to mention a few. There were three Wigboroughs - Great Wigborough, Little Wigborough and Salcott Wigborough. What we now generally know as Salcott was formerly a hamlet of Great Wigborough and as it was so far from the mother church of Great Wigborough and separated by a creek. a chapel-of-ease was built at Salcott Wigborough for the people there, but served by the Rector of Great Wigborough.

Salcott is recorded in 1317 as being a market town with paved streets. Its people felt they should have a Rector of their own. so in 1372 a request for this was made to the Bishop of London - Essex was then in that Diocese. A commission was set up, depositions were made by local inhabitants but no change appears to have been made - Salcott remaining a chapel to Great Wigborough until the 19th. century. About 1480 a Chantry was founded in the Church by John Baron with a Chantry Priest to sing Mass and administer the Sacraments, but this was all dissolved circa 1550 in the reign of Edward VI. The plate was confiscated and the chantry lands were given to John Raynforth who also stole the Church bells. It is stated that at that time there were 140 'Houseling people' (communicants).

The Church stands at the eastern end of Salcott Street with the creek only a short distance behind it. It consists of a chancel, nave, south porch, and west tower of flint, rubble, and septaria, with dressings of limestone. The roofs are tiled. Like the two other Wigborough churches this one also suffered severely in the earthquake of 1884 and had to be drastically restored in 1893. At that date it consisted only of the west tower, south porch and a short nave as at some earlier date the chancel had been demolished and a plain wall of timber and plaster with a small domestic-looking square framed window inserted at the east end of the nave.

Virley Church had been declared unsafe in 1879, when the last service was held there, and the earthquake had done further damage to it. The Parishes of Salcott Wigborough and Virley were united by an Order in Council of June 1879, and Salcott/Wigborough Church became the Parish Church for both Salcott and Virley. It was decided, therefore, that the restoration of Salcott Church should include the lengthening of the Nave and the rebuilding of the Chancel on the original foundations. This was done in the years 1892 to 1893 at a cost of £1,446.

The best feature of the Church - the embattled knapped-flint tower of the late 15th. century in the perpendicular style - was tha least damaged and remains. The old north wall of the nave had to be rebuilt with the old materials; modern windows and the blocked north doorway incorporate some 14th. century worked stones. The south wall was also partly rebuilt but retains as the middle window a 14th. century window of two pointed lights. The south doorway is early 16th. century with four-centred arch in a square head, the spandrels being carved with blank shields and foliage. The attractive open chancel is all modern. The early 16th. century south porch built of large blocks of stone was carefully restored and a new gable of flint panelling built. The roof is modern and the tiles have recently been relaid also the interior has been decorated

The restoration of the Church and rebuilding of the Chancel was by the well-known Essex architect, Frederick Chancellor of Chelmsford. The Church was reconsecrated by the Bishop of St. Albans on Tuesday, June 13th. 1893. (The Church was then in the Diocese of St. Alban's. In 1914 the Diocese of Chelmsford was founded and the Church has been in that Diocese since that time.)

FITTINGS AND ITEMS OF INTEREST

BELL 22 inches in diameter.
Pack and Chapman of London Fecit: 1771.
CHAIR (in Chancel) Of early 17th. century date with high panelled back.
COFFIN LID (now in Nave) Coped stone slab with double hollow chamferred edge, cross with foliated ends on stepped cavalry. Of the 13th. century.
DOOR (in South doorway) Of two folds.
Early 16th. century.
FONT Modern. In memory of the Rev. E.S.Starbuck, Rector, 1878.
NICHE In South Porch over South Doorway.
Early 16th. century.
ORGAN Early 20th. century.
The organ originally stood in the South East corner of the Nave but more recently it has been rebuilt on a gallery in the West Tower with an attractive pipe-front to the Church. Below the gallery is a Carved oak screen.
PANELS (South Window) On the east splay of the middle South window of the nave there are two round cut panels in stone with quatrefoil and sexfoil design. Late 14th. century.
PLATE Includes an Elizabethan cup and paten of 1574.
PROCESSIONAL CROSS Carved and painted wood in memory of Fanny Louisa Crate, 1928.
PULPIT Hexagonal with raised inlay panels - early 18th. century.
ROLLS OF RECTORS Salcott Virley and Salcott Wigborough.
STOUP (in Nave) East of South Doorway. 14th. century.
WINDOWS East Window of three panels depicting:-
(a) St. Helena - patron saint of Colchester
(b) Jesus. Saviour of the World
(c) St. Cedd - the 'apostle' to Essex
The window is in memory of the members of Smith family 1886 - 1928.

South East Window of Chancel
Portraits the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Infant Christ. In memory of the Rev. E.S. Starbuck. Rector 1876 - 1878.


THE RUINED CHURCH OF ST. MARY THE VIRGIN, VIRLEY
Virley Church is now a ruin in the grounds of the Old Rectory. The last service was held in it in 1879. It consisted of a chancel (20ft by 14ft) and a nave (19ft wide) which had probably been shortened at some time. At the west end of the nave was a very simple wooden bell turret. The nave and chancel were probably built early in the 13th. century of rubble mixed with some Roman brick. The chief feature now left is the 13th. century chancel arch and some of the side walls - all partly covered with ivy.

The Church was declared unsafe in 1879 and in 1884 the Earthquake did further serious damage to it so the roof was removed and the walls allowed to stand in a ruinous condition.


Read more:

Pictures of Salcott village
Other Local churches

Author: T.B. Millatt
c1980

Related Images

 St Mary the Virgin, Salcott cum Virley
 East Window, made in 1930 by William Lawson (1892 - 1946) in 'full blown' Arts and Crafts style.
</p><p>
The left light is In Loving Memory of Mary Elizabeth Brett who died 17 March 1895.
 Centre light In Loving Memory of William Henry Smith, died 12 April 1893 and Louisa his wife died 1 September 1900.
 Right hand light In Moving Memory of Arthur Brett Smith Church Warden 1916. Died 16 December 1928. Thomas Sidney Smith died 16 June 1886.  CPK_SAL_001CPK_SAL_001
St Mary the Virgin, Salcott cum Virley
East Window, made in 1930 by William Lawson (1892 - 1946) in 'full blown' Arts and Crafts style.

The left light is In Loving Memory of Mary Elizabeth Brett who died 17 March 1895.
Centre light In Loving Memory of William Henry Smith, died 12 April 1893 and Louisa his wife died 1 September 1900.
Right hand light In Moving Memory of Arthur Brett Smith Church Warden 1916. Died 16 December 1928. Thomas Sidney Smith died 16 June 1886.
21 January 2019

 St Mary the Virgin Parish Church, Salcott cum Virley.
 New panels in a north nave window commemorating the new millennium, made by Susan McCarthy of Aura Visions in 2000. The left light has a charming view of the church by a stream, in the right light a roundel proclaiming a Gospel message set against a rural background.
 [Chris Parkinson]  CPK_SAL_003CPK_SAL_003
St Mary the Virgin Parish Church, Salcott cum Virley.
New panels in a north nave window commemorating the new millennium, made by Susan McCarthy of Aura Visions in 2000. The left light has a charming view of the church by a stream, in the right light a roundel proclaiming a Gospel message set against a rural background.
[Chris Parkinson]
21 January 2019
 St Mary the Virgin, Salcott cum Virley.
 South side of chancel, and now the earliest glass in the church. It is by Kempe in 1897 and depicts the Virgin and child.
</p><p>
The inscription reads
 In honour of the Holy Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ and in memory of Edward Stephenson Starbuck, sometime Rector of this parish, (born 11th April 1851, died 8th Dec. 1878), this window is dedicated.
</p><p>The church had a major restoration 1892-93 and a new chancel was built.
</p>  CPK_SAL_005CPK_SAL_005
St Mary the Virgin, Salcott cum Virley.
South side of chancel, and now the earliest glass in the church. It is by Kempe in 1897 and depicts the Virgin and child.

The inscription reads
"In honour of the Holy Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ and in memory of Edward Stephenson Starbuck, sometime Rector of this parish, (born 11th April 1851, died 8th Dec. 1878), this window is dedicated."

The church had a major restoration 1892-93 and a new chancel was built.


21 January 2019
 Salcot Church. Postcard 63896, not mailed.  CW6_001CW6_001
Salcot Church. Postcard 63896, not mailed.
 St. Mary's Church, Salcott. The church still has oil lamps. Photo thought to be between 1935 and 1960.  IA003720IA003720
St. Mary's Church, Salcott. The church still has oil lamps. Photo thought to be between 1935 and 1960.
 Salcott Church - interior.
 The East Window is dedicated To the glory of God in loving memory of Mary Elizabeth Brett who died 17 March 1895.
 In loving memory of William Henry Smith died 12 April 1893 and Louisa his wife died 1st September 1900.
 In loving memory of Arthur Brett Smith, Churchwarden 1916-20, Died 16 December 1928 and Thomas Sidney Smith, died 16 June 1886.
 The Processional Cross is in memory of Fannie Louisa Crate (1928)
</p>  IA003750IA003750
Salcott Church - interior.
The East Window is dedicated "To the glory of God in loving memory of Mary Elizabeth Brett who died 17 March 1895".
"In loving memory of William Henry Smith died 12 April 1893 and Louisa his wife died 1st September 1900."
"In loving memory of Arthur Brett Smith, Churchwarden 1916-20, Died 16 December 1928 and Thomas Sidney Smith, died 16 June 1886."
The Processional Cross is in memory of Fannie Louisa Crate (1928)

 Salcott Church - a Hammond postcard  IA01_781IA01_781
Salcott Church - a Hammond postcard
c1911
 Salcott Church - a Hammond postcard  IA01_783IA01_783
Salcott Church - a Hammond postcard
c1911
 Virley Church - image from Homeland Handy Guides - Mersea Island. Page 19.  MD02_036MD02_036
Virley Church - image from Homeland Handy Guides - Mersea Island. Page 19.
c1925
 Salcott Church. Date not known.  MPA_SAL_003MPA_SAL_003
Salcott Church. Date not known.
 The LORD WARDEN at Church Wharf Salcott unloading flints, c1920. Her skipper at this time was Jack Spitty. 
 Used in Down Tops'l page 65 - caption is:
 LORD WARDEN after a stack at Salcot, where the creek is now dammed. On this trip the LORD WARDEN's skipper met his future wife, and they were married in the church hard by. Their son has been named after the barge. Page 123 names the skipper as Jack Spitty and his son as Victa Warden Spitty.
 LORD WARDEN was built Sandwich 1891 for William Jas. Hughes, Official No. 97705. She was later owned by Clem Parker at Bradwell and Wakeley Bros of Rainham.  RG06_351RG06_351
The LORD WARDEN at Church Wharf Salcott unloading flints, c1920. Her skipper at this time was Jack Spitty.
Used in Down Tops'l page 65 - caption is:
"LORD WARDEN after a stack at Salcot, where the creek is now dammed. On this trip the LORD WARDEN's skipper met his future wife, and they were married in the church hard by. Their son has been named after the barge." Page 123 names the skipper as Jack Spitty and his son as Victa Warden Spitty.
LORD WARDEN was built Sandwich 1891 for William Jas. Hughes, Official No. 97705. She was later owned by Clem Parker at Bradwell and Wakeley Bros of Rainham.
c1920
 Virley Church and Rectory. Postcard 740-X, date not known.  TBM_SAL_031TBM_SAL_031
Virley Church and Rectory. Postcard 740-X, date not known.
 Rectors of Salcot - Wigborough [including Virley]. List on the wall in Salcot Church, by T.B. Millatt.
 1876 Edward S. Starbuck
 1879-1906 Edward Musselwhite
 1907-1940 Felix Eustace Crate
 1940-1955 Horace James Coker
 1955 Arthur Edward Payton
 1964 Arthur Edward Brand
 1970 Laurence Henry Lamprell
 1972 David John D. Thornton
 1974 Stanley Conway-Lee
 1979 Keith Michael Beard Lovell  TM2_0573TM2_0573
Rectors of Salcot - Wigborough [including Virley]. List on the wall in Salcot Church, by T.B. Millatt.
1876 Edward S. Starbuck
1879-1906 Edward Musselwhite
1907-1940 Felix Eustace Crate
1940-1955 Horace James Coker
1955 Arthur Edward Payton
1964 Arthur Edward Brand
1970 Laurence Henry Lamprell
1972 David John D. Thornton
1974 Stanley Conway-Lee
1979 Keith Michael Beard Lovell
10 April 2008
 St. Mary's Church, Salcott - interior. The World War I memorial is on the north wall on the left of the picture.  TM2_0575TM2_0575
St. Mary's Church, Salcott - interior. The World War I memorial is on the north wall on the left of the picture.
10 April 2008
 St. Mary's Church, Salcott  TM2_0581TM2_0581
St. Mary's Church, Salcott
10 April 2008
 Salcott Church, before the chancel was rebuilt. 
 The old chancel had been in ruins for some time. There was a major restoration 1892-93 where a new chancel was added on the old foundations. 
The last service in before restoration was 10 July 1892. The first service in the new chancel was 13 June 1893 [T.B. Millatt].  TM4_053TM4_053
Salcott Church, before the chancel was rebuilt.
The old chancel had been in ruins for some time. There was a major restoration 1892-93 where a new chancel was added on the old foundations. The last service in before restoration was 10 July 1892. The first service in the new chancel was 13 June 1893 [T.B. Millatt].
Before June 1892
 Salcott Parish Church (St. Mary). Drawing by T.B. Millatt. The 'modern' parts of the building are thought to date from the 1892-93 restoration.  TM4_059TM4_059
Salcott Parish Church (St. Mary). Drawing by T.B. Millatt. The 'modern' parts of the building are thought to date from the 1892-93 restoration.
c1980
ID: TBM_SAL
Source: Mersea Museum