Barking lies in the angle between the N bank of the Thames and the E bank of the River Roding, and was centred on its abbey in the middle ages. St Margaret’s is the parish church and stands within the former abbey precincts, SE of the demolished abbey church. Construction is largely of rag and flint except for the tower, of Reigate stone. It consists of a chancel with 2-bay aisles, the N aisle housing the organ. The nave has 4-bay aisles and a clerestory, with a W tower in a 5th bay at the W end. On the N side is a 2nd aisle running alongside the tower and extending to the N of the N chancel aisle. This end of the aisle was built in the 16thc using debris from the abbey, and its 2-bay arcade piers and capitals are abbey spolia. The remainder of the building is largely 13thc and 15thc. On the S side is the Church Centre, with a café linked to the church itself. This was added by K. C. White and Partners in 1991.
The manor, assessed at 30 hides, was held by the nuns of St Mary’s, Barking before and after the Conquest (see Barking Abbey). It remained in their possession until the Dissolution. The church is said (VCH) to have been founded as a chapel, and to have been made a parish church c.1300 by Abbess Anne de Vere.
This is of 2 bays, with a cylindrical central pier and engaged half-columns at the ends. The capitals are polygonal multi-scallops with plain shields and double wedges between the cones. They have plain chamfered neckings, but there are no impost blocks or bases to the piers. The arches are later and pointed with two hollow chamfered orders, and it is likely that only the scapitals are Romanesque, and that they were salvaged from the abbey site after the Dissolution.
B. Cherry, C. O’Brien and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 5 East, New Haven and London 2005, 120-24.
J. Cooper, The Church Dedications and Saints’ Cults of Medieval Essex, Lancaster 2011, 110.
Historic England Listed Building 198237
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, Harmondsworth 1954, 63-64.
RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2: Central and South West (1921), 4-11.
Victoria County History: Essex V (1966), 222-31.