St Michael’s Church, Fobbing

Fobbing church is one of Thurrock's grade I listed buildings. The grey 15th century west tower is a landmark for miles, and views to open sea, or inland to the Langdon Hills can be seen by climbing the hundred stairs of the turret. This tower contains a peal of eight bells, four of them being installed in 1629, the tenor bell being hung in 1724. By 1900 the bells and bell frame had fallen into disrepair, but the bells rang out again in 1931 after 30 years of silence, when, through the efforts of the parishioners they were recast and installed in a steel frame. A sixth bell was installed in 1934, followed by two more in 1935, completing the peal.

The oldest part of the church is the nave which is Anglo-Saxon. The north wall contains, to the right of the north door, a blocked Anglo-Saxon window. The door to the right of this window has remarkable strap-hinges with curious prongs, about 700 years old. Other windows in the nave are 14th century and there is also one containing a stained-glass memorial to the dead of World War II. Behind the Jacobean pulpit is the rood loft staircase dating from the 15th century. This was built to give access to the top of the rood screen, no longer existing. At the west end is an old barrel organ, restored in 1974, which plays hymn tunes.

It is 600 years since the chancel, chapel, and aisle were added, the aisle being wider than the nave. A bearded king and a placid nun look down from the chancel wall, and inset in the wall is a stone inscribed in Norman French. The chapel has a gem of sculpture, Mary with the infant Jesus on her knees. Though it is just a fragment, it must have been lovely when first placed by the altar. The south porch has a timber frame on dwarf rubble walls, and is roofed with tiles. In one of the spandrels of the porch are the great head of a king and a seated man boldly opening a dragon’s mouth. The chancel choir stalls have been installed in recent years to replace the old ones, being dedicated to Rev. E.A. Gardner.

The south aisle has pews with traceried ends dating from early 16th century, while those with the carved finials are of early 17th century construction. Over the south door there is the royal coat of arms of George IV. The south door is of great age, the huge lock being carved out of a single block of oak. The font dates from the 12th century, but its pillars and base are modern, as is the lid.

There is a beautiful small 13th century lancet window in the north wall of the sanctuary, while in the east wall behind the altar is a 15th century window with two sets of scratched inscriptions by a later glazier, comprising name and date 1771. The window in the south wall is modern, installed in 1906 at the restoration and is dedicated to the memory of the two sons of Herbert Clarence Long of the Old Hall, Corringham.

The vestry was built in the 19th century and contains a small chalice inscribed with the words “John Lawson and John Grubb churchwardens att Fobinge in Essex. Ano Dmni 1633.”