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St Mary, West Bergholt, Essex

(51°55′1″N, 0°50′18″E)
West Bergholt
TL 953 281
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
24 September 2014

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Feature Sets

West Bergholt is a village in the Colne valley, 2 miles W of Colchester. It is a substantial settlement on the N side of the river, and the church and hall stand just outside the main village to the NW. St Mary’s was decribed as damp by the later 19thc, and after the consecration of a new church, also dedicated to St Mary, in the centre of the village in 1904 it was used increasingly seldom, first becoming a chapel of ease and then being declared redundant in 1976 when it was taken over by the Churches Conservation Trust.

Old St Mary’s is substantially an 11thc building, with masonry of this period obvious in the N wall. It has a nave with a separately roofed S aisle separated from it by a 3-bay arcade, and a S porch. It is separated from the chancel by a beam with a paited coat of arms above it, rather than the usual chancel arch. At the W end of the nave is a timber gallery and there is a timber W bell turret with a pyramid roof. Construction is the usual Essex mixed rubble, including Roman tiles, puddingstone, pebbles and flint. The only Romanesque feature is the plain font.


A manor of 1 hide and 25 acres was held by Leofwine Crook in 1066 and by Roger de Poitou in 1086. It also contained woodland for 300 pigs, 12 acres of meadow and a mill. Bradfield was a berewick of this manor. A further 31½ acres in West Bergholt were held by Leofcild in 1066 and by Goding from Richard FitzGilbert in 1086. There was woodland for 16 pigs and 3 acres of meadow associated with this holding.

Roger’s fief was forfeited to the crown in 1102, and granted by King Henry to Stephen of Mortain (later King Stephen) c.1126. The tenant by 1119 was Robert de Sackville, and the manor remained in the Sackville family throughout the middle ages, at least until the mid-16thc.





Bettley and Pevsner (2007) do not mention the font. The List Description mentions it but does not venture a date, while RCHME suggests a 13thc date for it. The present author suggests that it is a 12thc bowl on a later medieval stem.


J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 820.

English Heritage Listed Building 421358

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3: North East (1922), 227-29.

Victoria County History: Essex X (2001), 23-38.