St Giles and All Saints, Orsett

This large and spacious Grade I listed parish church dedicated to St Giles and All Saints is a building of flint with stone facings. For 500 years the south facing wooden porch has sheltered magnificent Norman doorway dating back to 1160, with three scratch sundials. The present nave was the original church, which has been repeatedly extended over the centuries.

The church is unusual in having two chancels, the first of which dates from about 1150, with a fine east window dating from about 1330. The nave is mid 12th century. The screen between the nave and the chancel is modern and was made by Comper in 1911. The screens north and south of the chancel were designed by Sir Charles Nicholson in 1927 in memory of Violet Whitmore, Sir Francis Whitmore’s first wife. The second chancel was built about 1500. It contains two memorials to members of the Baker family and a notable collection of hatchments. There are brass portraits in the chancel of Thomas Latham with his wife and their three children in 15th century costume, and a brass of Robert Kinge, a 16th century priest - click here.

In 1893 two stained glass windows were erected, and a brass eagle lectern and bible, altar desk, processional cross and other gifts were made to the church, in memory of Louisa, Captain T.D.C. Whitmore’s wife. In 1884 a memorial window was inserted to Digby Hanmer Richard Wingfield Esq. There is a large marble tomb with a recumbent figure, commemorating John Hatt, attorney of the City of London and once owner of this lordship; in the chancel are mural monuments to the family.

The 15th century great tower (rebuilt some 200 years later) is of brick, 16 feet square, with a wooden dwarf spire; there are eight bells, three of which were there in 1792 when members of the vestry purchased five new bells made by Thomas Mears of London, now the well known Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

There is a fine Perpendicular font from medieval days, a Jacobean pulpit, a 16th century chest with linenfold, and another of the 17 th century with a lid 700 years old. A vestry was built by the rector in 1865 and in 1881 a new organ was placed in the church at a cost of £700. The church plate includes a flagon and paten and two silver alms dishes.

The badly eroded sandstone cross in the graveyard was erected by the Whitmore family ofOrsett Hall. An elaborate tomb is also erected here for Captain Bonham - a slave trader and the original owner of Orsett House. This is a listed building in its own right.

Exploring Thurrock 2008
Kelly’s Directory 1895