St Andrews Church Yard
The History of St Peters
Dale Knappying accumulated a large fortune fro the development of the brickworks in South Shoebury, serving the rapid growth of Southend in the middle of the 19th century. He became Justice of the Peace and was responsible for the first school in the parish in 1863. When the school became to small for the amount of children, they built a new infants and junior school next door.
People have been worshiping in our parish for over 900 years, we are aware of the history and the people who have gone before us.
The History of St Andrews
St Andrew's was founded as an outreach of the Priory at Prittlewell, itself an outreach of the Priory of Cluny in France. Until the
destruction of the monasteries in the mid 16th century, St Andrew's remained attached to the Priory at Prittlewell.
At one time the Living of South Shoebury was in the hands of Robert Bristow a Hampshire squire possibly a descendent of another Robert Bristow who was a Prior of Prittlewell in the reign of King Edward IV .
The original church building dates from 1100 to 1140 and has a simple form, comprising of only a chancel (the area for the priest) and nave (the area for the congregation). It is a fine example of a small
Norman parish church. Norman architecture typically used massive walls and columns with rounded arches and simple patterns of decoration such as chevrons, all of which are evident in St Andrew's.
As with many local churches, it is built of Kentish ragstone rubble and flint. In contrast to' most domestic and farm buildings, parish churches were traditionally built of the best and most permanent materials which, if possible, would be stone. For the earlier churches such as St Andrew's, this was often to provide a safe place of refuge for the parishioners in troubled times, as much as to demonstrate the church's status in the community. Our part of Essex has no natural stone, other than some flint. But a coarse type of limestone (ragstone) from Kent is readily available and transporting it by boat is easy. So, many churches in our area are built in Kentish Ragstone.
• In the 14th century a Tower was added - the lower part of the Tower walls may belong to the original building. The Tower is of flint rubble and ragstone. The battlement brick parapet was added in the 18th century. The walls are exceptionally thick due to its lining internally with blocks of chalk.
• In the 15th century the church was re-roofed in oak and a wooden porch built. At that time the Norman windows in the nave were replaced by the present larger ones of the Perpendicular style which have pointed rather than round arches.
• Up to the end of the 15th century the east wall had a group of small Norman lights but at the beginning of the 16th century these were replaced by a large east window with stained glass. This was unfortunately destroyed along with various fittings and furniture in the 1852 restoration.
• Between 1550 and 1852 a lath and plaster ceiling was probably installed below the roof, the doors were renewed and alterations were made to the Tower.
• In 1749 two of the three bells were blown down and damaged, they were sold and the money used to beautify the church. The one bell remaining today is dated 1847.
• In 1852 there was a restoration mainly to the nave and chancel stone work.
In 1902 the vestry was built by voluntary labour.
• During the second half of the 1960's there was further restoration work. The lath and plaster ceiling was removed, exposing the oak beams, and the rendering on the interior wall of the Tower was removed.
There are many interesting architectural features found within St Andrews church including:
• A fine Norman arch with beautiful mouldings separation the nave from the chancel.
• Over the entrance of the 15th century timber porch is a carving representing the mesh of a fish net with a catch in it. On either side are shields, one bearing the cross of St Andrew and the other a fish.
• The steps which led to the rood loft. A rood loft is a gallery above the rood screen which in many medieval churches separated the nave from the chancel symbolising the division between the priest and the congregation. Many were removed with the Reformation and the one at St Andrew's has long gone. 'Rood' is a Saxon word for 'cross'.
• A window depicting the scenes from Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress". John Bunyan had read the book "The Plaine Man's Pathway to Heaven", written by Arthur Dent who was a Rector here between 1580 to 1602, and used it as a model for his famous book.
• Three fine windows which depict Christ 'The Good Shepherd', 'Christ the Light of the World' and Christ 'The Bread of Life'.
• The list of incumbents from 1267 to the present day.
• The consecration cross (about 2 inches high} on the right hand of the south doorway carved there when the church was consecrated about 870 years ago.
Over the centuries the church has been adapted to changing needs and shows many alterations:
• The first alterations were probably between 1200 to 1250 when certain recesses were made in the walls.
The earliest known burial was in 1704 of Elizabeth Dimond, but no headstone survives so we do not know the location. The earliest burial with a headstone was in 1745 of Mr Alexander Baker - this by the south porch and has a distinctive skull and crossbones on it.
From the 1850's until the latter 20th century Shoeburyness Royal Artillery Army Garrison was part of the Parish. There are military graves dating from this period of soldiers and their families. A further 66 military graves in the churchyard are of soldiers, sailors and airmen who died during and since World War One and are registered with the Commonwealth Graves Commission www.cwgc.org.