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St Mary the Virgin, Little Laver, Essex

(51°45′49″N, 0°14′14″E)
Little Laver
TL 545 096
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
16 May 2018

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Feature Sets

Little Laver is a village in the Epping Forest district of W central Essex, 12 miles W of Chelmsford and 8 miles E of Harlow and the Hertfordshire border. The village is surrounded by arable farmland, and the church stands at its N edge. St Mary's consists of a nave and chancel in one with a S porch to the nave and a N vestry and organ room to the chancel. The church is 14thc in origin, but was restored in 1872 by J. Goldicutt Turner, who added the porch, vestry and an apsidal E end. Construction is of flint rubble with clunch and freestone dressings and a red tiled roof. The only Romanesque feature is the font.


The Lavers, High, Little and Magdalen, consisted of two small manors in the Domesday Survey. The larger, assessed at 1 hide, was held by Roger from Ralph de Tosny in 1086, and by Saxi before the Conquest. The smaller was held by Richard from Count Eustace of Boulogne in 1086, and by Beorhtmaer in 1066, and was assessed at 40 acres. The latter became Little Laver. By the end of the 12thc ownership of the manor was a matter of dispute between Ralph de Rochester and Eustace de Lagefare (Laver). This was ultimately resolved when Eustace held the tenancy from Ralph. By the early 13thc Ralph de Rochester held the mano=r from the king and it was held from Ralph by Richard de Rochester and his brother Eustace. By the early 14thc, Little Laver had become 2 manors held, presumably, by the descendants of the two brothers.

The advowson of the church was granted to the Priory of Rumilly, a Cluniac house in the Pas-de-Calais, by a Count of Boulogne in the early 12thc. The monks of Rumilly found it difficult to exercise their right of presentation, and ultimately came to an agreement with Eleanor of Castile in 1379.





The font forms a group with others at Fryerning and Abbess Roding. It is dated late-12thc or early-13thc by RCHME, late 12thc by VCH and the List Description, and c.1200 by Bettley (2007).


J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 557.

J. Cooper, The Church Dedications and Saints’ Cults of Medieval Essex, Lancaster 2011, 145.

Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 118434

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2: Central and South West (1921), 156-57.

Victoria County History: Essex IV (1956), 97-101.