Willingale Doe Church, Essex

Rather bizarrely, this tiny village of about 500 people, has two churches.

The reason for this is either (a) the folklore version or (b) the parish version…

(a) The Folklore Version

Two sisters in the village were quarrelling continuously. They were so contentious that they built two separate churches. Sadly, this version would appear to be entirely without foundation – particularly as the churches are somewhere around 200 years apart in date!

(b) The Parish Version

The first parish at Willingale – Willingale Spain was founded by Harvey D’Espana who built Spains Hall and the Church of St. Andrew (Willingale Spain) in the early 12th Century. This remained the only church here until 1320 when the D’Ou family arrived in Willingale. At the time the village was expanding due to the wool trade and the D’Ous found the existing church was too small.

So they set up a new parish – Willingale Doe – but rather than destroy the old church, they built a new one – St. Christopher – right next door.

Oddly both churches were expanded in the 15th Century – Willingale Spain had chancel and chancel arch added whilst Willingale Doe had the tower and south porch added.

The two remained separate until 1929 when they were finally united into one parish – that of Willingale. Willingdale Doe Church has become the parish church as it is the larger of the two, Willingale Spain is used for special services.

Willingale Spain Church, Essex

Photos - Andrew J. Müller

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