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St Nicholas, Tillingham, Essex

(51°41′54″N, 0°52′57″E)
TL 993 039
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
12 August 2015

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Tillingham is an attractive village on the Dengie peninsula, in the Maldon district of Essex. It is 14 miles from Maldon by road and most of its dwellings lie along a single street that runs from N to S, widening in the middle of the village to form The Square. The church stands on the N side of this.

It consists of a nave with a 4-bay S aisle and a S porch; a W tower and a chancel with a 19thc N vestry. The nave is 12thc with an original N doorway. The chancel, aisle and tower were added in the 14thc, but the aisle was removed in 1708 and renewed by Chancellor as part of his restoration of the nave in 1864-66. The church was restored again between 1888 and 1911. Romanesque sculpture is found on the N doorway, the font and at least 16 carved stones reset in the outside walls of the S aisle, the S porch and the N vestry.


The manor was given to the monastery of St Paul in London by Aethelbehrt, King of Kent in the early 7thc as a foundation gift, and it was still held by St Paul’s (Cathedral) in 1086, when it was assessed at 20 hides and 6 acres, and is still so held.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration





The sloping top of the font is unusual, possibly unique. What is more surprising is that this feature of its design was not noted by Pevsner (1954), or Bettley (2007) or the RCHME, or those responsible for listing the building.

The design of the N doorway, with its segmental lintel and chip-carved tympanum, relates to those at Heybridge and probably Little Tey.

The carved stones set in the external walls of the aisle and vestry (both built in the 19thc) are presumed to relate to the present N doorway (stone p) or to the original 12thc S doorway. There are 4 designs of chevron voussoir, all of a suitable size to form the arch orders of one or more doorways. Two multi-order doorways at Stansted Mountfitchet, similar in design to the N doorway here, give an idea of what the Romanesque S doorway might have looked like.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, 3 vols, London 1899, 282.

J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 785-86.

Historic England Listed Building 429103

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, Harmondsworth 1954, 358.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 4, South east. (1923), 159-60.

P. H. Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters: an Annotated List and Bibliography, London 1968, S5. Available online at The Electronic Sawyer, http://www.esawyer.org.uk/

T. Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex, 1836, II, 690-91.