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 to the north. 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 is just to the north of Salcott Creek. The 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
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.
In memory of the Rev. E.S.Starbuck, Rector, 1878.
In South Porch over South Doorway.
Early 16th. century.
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.
Includes an Elizabethan cup and paten of 1574.
Carved and painted wood in memory of Fanny Louisa Crate, 1928.
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.
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
The ruins of Virley Church c1925
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.
Salcot Church c1830
Chantry at Salcott-Wigborough
Salcott and Virley - Essex Countryside
Salcott and Virley by George Biddell 1933
Pictures of Salcott village