St Nicholas Parish Church, Little Wigborough


Little Wigborough is a small village overlooking the salt marshes and the estuary of the Blackwater River, 8 miles south of Colchester between Peldon and Great Wigborough. Being so close to the sea, it is appropriately dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of the sailors. There has probably been a church here form Norman times, the list of rectors going back to 1272. The parish is now united with Great Wigborough.

The church was in all probability built and maintained by the Lords of the Manor of Copt Hall, which stands near to the church. The present building consists of chancel, nave, and west tower, and had probably been re-built in the late 15th century. It is all in the perpendicular style of that period. Much restoration work had to be done between 1885 and 1888 following the severe damage caused by the local earthquake in 1884, especially to the tower.

Little Wigborough church after the 1884 earthquake

The church has a chancel screen and a piscina. In the nave is a floor slab to Isaac Mazengarb, 1693, and his wife Mary, 1714. On the wall, there is a recent plaque to Zeppelina Williams, born the night the Zeppelin crashed nearby. The church has one bell - 17" in diameter, dating from 1820. Also, in the church is the roll of rectors from 1272. The registers go back to 1586.

August 2016

August 2016

By 2018 the church was once again suffering from subsidence and was closed. The last service held in the church was November 2017.
The future looks bleak. At the Winstred Hundred Parish Council meeting 11 February 2020, it was said "Little Wigborough Church is in a poor state and the Wigboroughs church wardens are proposing to transfer the building to the Diocese of Chelmsford and it is with great sadness that the parish council backs this proposal as repairs to the church to bring it up to a usable standard would be enormous."

The population of Little Wigborough was 95 in 1821, 123 in 1831, 124 in 1871, and in 1905 about 50. A school was built in 1875 with room for 50 pupils, average attendance 20, schoolmistress Miss Ada Whatham. It was closed by 1932 and all trace has now gone, save for occasional bricks that turn up in a ploughed field.

The 1884 Earthquake
The quiet of the county of Essex was suddenly shattered at 9.10 am on Tuesday April 22nd, 1884, by an earthquake with its epicentre near Peldon. The shock caused widespread damage in Colchester, and even more in the area to the south, particularly at Wivenhoe, Emlstead, Alresford, East Donyland, Fingringhoe, Abberton, Langenhoe, Peldon, the Wigboroughs, Mersea Island and Bradwell. Twenty churches and over a thousand other buildings were damaged, but no lives were lost. Little Wigborough church was badly damaged. The roof was completely stripped of its tiles, and several pieces of masonry fell from the tower. Many houses in the parish were also damaged. A Mansion House appeal fund was opened by the Lord Mayer of London, and Little Wigborough received £200 from it. The rector, the Rev. F. Watson, reporting to the Mansion House Appeal meeting said: "Little Wigborough church is perfectly riddled. The body of the church has separated from the tower, and I cannot think of ever having any more services in it."

Wigborough's Zeppelin
Little Wigborough's other claim to fame relates to the German Zeppelin L33 which crashed in fields at 1am on Sunday, 24th September 1916. This was the first airship to fall on English soil in the First War. The countryside was suddenly lit up by the flames from the huge gas-bag as the commander fired his ship. Nearby cottages narrowly escaped being hit or burnt.

The only fatality on the night the Zeppelin came down was Alfred Wright from Grove Farm, who died following a motor cycle accident as he went to fetch help. He is buried in Little Wigborough churchyard.

Read More ...
1905 description of the Parish of Little Wigborough

The Parish of Little Wigborough by James Seddon c1980

The Earthquake of 1884

Zeppelin L33 at Little Wigborough

Pictures of Great and Little Wigborough village

The Parish Registers of Great and Little Wigborough, Mrs P.A.F. Stephenson, 1905
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments Report (on the wall in the church)
Kelly's Directory 1882
Wright's History of Essex
Winstred Hundred Parish Council Minutes
Sheila Gray

Author: Tony Millatt

Related Images

 Little Wigborough church after the 1884 earthquake.  RG03_629RG03_629
Little Wigborough church after the 1884 earthquake.
cMay 1884
 Little Wigborough church decorated for Harvest Festival.  SG01_082_003SG01_082_003
Little Wigborough church decorated for Harvest Festival.
 Anne Gray playing the organ in Little Wigborough Church.  SG01_089_005SG01_089_005
Anne Gray playing the organ in Little Wigborough Church.
8 October 1966
 In memory of Zeppelina Williams 1916 - 2004.
 Church of St Nicholas, Little Wigborough.  TM7_0553TM7_0553
In memory of Zeppelina Williams 1916 - 2004.
Church of St Nicholas, Little Wigborough.
21 August 2016
 St Nicholas Church, Little Wigborough
 April 1884 severely damaged in the earthquake.
 2018 the church is once again suffering from subsidence and is closed.  TM7_0556TM7_0556
St Nicholas Church, Little Wigborough
April 1884 severely damaged in the earthquake.
2018 the church is once again suffering from subsidence and is closed.
21 August 2016
 Rectors of Little Wigborough. Framed list on north wall of church, printed by T.B.Millatt.
<tr><td>Adam, parson of Parva Wyggebergh</td><td>1272</td></tr>
<tr><td>Simon de Romenale</td><td>1329</td></tr>
<tr><td>Richard de Glenton</td><td>1331</td></tr>
<tr><td>Roger Poppe</td><td></td></tr>
<tr><td>Nicholas Downe</td><td>1390</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Gale</td><td></td></tr>
<tr><td>John Philipp</td><td>1430</td></tr>
<tr><td>Richard Kylworth</td><td>1445</td></tr>
<tr><td>Henry Scot</td><td></td></tr>
<tr><td>Peter Marshall</td><td>1459</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Bokenham</td><td>1493</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Parke</td><td>1513</td></tr>
<tr><td>Christopher Warton</td><td>1532</td></tr>
<tr><td>William Dobson</td><td>1551</td></tr>
<tr><td>Thomas Gleson</td><td>1573</td></tr>
<tr><td>Richard Bridgman, M.A.</td><td>1586</td></tr>
<tr><td>William Nicholson, M.A.</td><td>1613</td></tr>
<tr><td>Ralph Parris, M.A.</td><td>1640</td></tr>
<tr><td>Robert Sterrell, B.C.L. (removed)       </td><td>1641</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Coe (Intruding Puritan Minister)</td><td>1655</td></tr>
<tr><td>Roger Turbridge, M.A.</td><td>1662</td></tr>
<tr><td>Christopher Wragg, M.A.</td><td>1686</td></tr>
<tr><td>Richard Lidgold, M.A.</td><td>1690</td></tr>
<tr><td>George Trotter, M.A.</td><td>1708</td></tr>
<tr><td>Samuel Urlwyn, M.A.</td><td>1721</td></tr>
<tr><td>Benjamin Woolaston, M.A.</td><td>1729</td></tr>
<tr><td>Frederick Richards, M.A.</td><td>1734</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Temple, M.A.</td><td>1761</td></tr>
<tr><td>Fyge Jauncey, B.C.L.</td><td>1764</td></tr>
<tr><td>James Hargrave, M.A.</td><td>1773</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Maule, M.A.</td><td>1774</td></tr>
<tr><td>William Bird, M.A.</td><td>1776</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Lane, M.A.</td><td>1796</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Stewart, M.A.</td><td>1811</td></tr>
<tr><td>Henry Yeomans, M.A.</td><td>1812</td></tr>
<tr><td>Charles Thomas Heathcote, D.D.</td><td>1814</td></tr>
<tr><td>Richard Pain, B.C.L., M.A.</td><td>1820</td></tr>
<tr><td>Edward Bowen, M.A.</td><td>1854</td></tr>
<tr><td>Frederick Tyrwhitt-Drake, M.A.</td><td>1856</td></tr>
<tr><td>James J. Martin-Cunynghame, M.A.</td><td>1866</td></tr>
<tr><td>          United with Great Wigborough, 1878     </td><td></td></tr>
<tr><td>Frederick Watson, M.A.</td><td>1879</td></tr>
<tr><td>Frederick Theobald, M.A.</td><td>1886</td></tr>
<tr><td>Llewellyn Christopher Watson Bullock, B.A.</td><td>1925</td></tr>
<tr><td>Frederick Yates, L.Th., Hon C.F.</td><td>1933</td></tr>
<tr><td>Arnold de Quincey, B.A.</td><td>1952</td></tr>
<tr><td>Roland Hall (Priest-in-charge from 1961)</td><td>1963</td></tr>
<tr><td>Arthur Edward Brand</td><td>1964</td></tr>
<tr><td>Laurence Henry Lamprell, B.A.</td><td>1970</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Carpenter, M.A. (Priest in Charge)</td><td>1972</td></tr>
<tr><td>James Edward Seddon, L.Th</td><td>1974</td></tr>
<tr><td>The Wigboroughs united with Peldon</td><td>1975</td></tr>
<tr><td>Edward Charles Lendon M.A.</td><td>1981</td></tr>
<tr><td>John Sinclair Short</td><td>1990</td></tr>
<tr><td>The Wigboroughs and Peldon united with  West Mersea and East Mersea</td><td>1994</td></tr>
<tr><td>Robin Howard Elphick (Priest in Charge)</td><td>1994</td></tr>
<p>Robin Elphick was succeeded by Sam Charles Norton M.A. in 2003.  TM7_0543TM7_0543
Rectors of Little Wigborough. Framed list on north wall of church, printed by T.B.Millatt.

Adam, parson of Parva Wyggebergh1272
Simon de Romenale1329
Richard de Glenton1331
Roger Poppe
Nicholas Downe1390
John Gale
John Philipp1430
Richard Kylworth1445
Henry Scot
Peter Marshall1459
John Bokenham1493
John Parke1513
Christopher Warton1532
William Dobson1551
Thomas Gleson1573
Richard Bridgman, M.A.1586
William Nicholson, M.A.1613
Ralph Parris, M.A.1640
Robert Sterrell, B.C.L. (removed)       1641
John Coe (Intruding Puritan Minister)1655
Roger Turbridge, M.A.1662
Christopher Wragg, M.A.1686
Richard Lidgold, M.A.1690
George Trotter, M.A.1708
Samuel Urlwyn, M.A.1721
Benjamin Woolaston, M.A.1729
Frederick Richards, M.A.1734
John Temple, M.A.1761
Fyge Jauncey, B.C.L.1764
James Hargrave, M.A.1773
John Maule, M.A.1774
William Bird, M.A.1776
John Lane, M.A.1796
John Stewart, M.A.1811
Henry Yeomans, M.A.1812
Charles Thomas Heathcote, D.D.1814
Richard Pain, B.C.L., M.A.1820
Edward Bowen, M.A.1854
Frederick Tyrwhitt-Drake, M.A.1856
James J. Martin-Cunynghame, M.A.1866
          United with Great Wigborough, 1878    
Frederick Watson, M.A.1879
Frederick Theobald, M.A.1886
Llewellyn Christopher Watson Bullock, B.A.1925
Frederick Yates, L.Th., Hon C.F.1933
Arnold de Quincey, B.A.1952
Roland Hall (Priest-in-charge from 1961)1963
Arthur Edward Brand1964
Laurence Henry Lamprell, B.A.1970
John Carpenter, M.A. (Priest in Charge)1972
James Edward Seddon, L.Th1974
The Wigboroughs united with Peldon1975
Edward Charles Lendon M.A.1981
John Sinclair Short1990
The Wigboroughs and Peldon united with
West Mersea and East Mersea
Robin Howard Elphick (Priest in Charge)1994

Robin Elphick was succeeded by Sam Charles Norton M.A. in 2003.

Source: Mersea Museum