Great Leighs Church, Essex

The Parish Church of Great Leighs lays some long way from the village centre in a very isolated spot indeed.

It is chiefly of interest because of its unusual round tower. At first glance this implies Saxon origin, but it is in fact 12th Century and purely Norman in character.

There are some Roman bricks in the buttresses of the church, but it is unclear whether this represents a Roman structure on the site or just a reuse at a later period of some old bricks that were sitting around.

The round tower is the oldest part of the church, inset with a typically Norman zig-zag arched doorway. This is what makes the church distinctive. The nave is slightly later, early 13th Century. The chancel was entirely rebuilt around 1330. The eastern end of the nave seems to have been rebuilt in the 15th Century and is one of the last major changes to the structure of the building.

Everything looks very pristine which implies that the Victorians had a go at renovation, but it is not clear how extensive this was.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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