St Mary the Virgin, Maldon
The church of St Mary the Virgin at Maldon stands on The Hythe close to the river and its prominent tower has served as a navigational marker to generations of seamen and fishermen.
www.flickr.com/photos/barryslemmings/sets/72157629962055376/ to see the full set.
The present building was started in 1130 by King Henry I but pottery and post holes found in the church yard indicate that there may have been a church here from the 7th century. Centuries of development since mean than many Norman features have been lost but a single original window remains at the west end of the north wall while the masonry supports of the original Norman chancel arch also remain. This collapsed in the 14th century and the present chancel arch is an 1880s restoration re-using a number of 14th century stones.
The same Victorian restoration revealed three niches next to the present WW1 war memorial and the early 16th century rood screen stair case. The stair case has been left open and has been set with some remaining medieval floor tiles. The earliest monument in the church is for John Fenne, a merchant of Calais, who died in 1486. Calais was then an English town.
The striking modern glass on the south side of the church celebrates the Millennium of the Battle of Maldon (Vikings versus Saxons) and interprets the prayers for the dying Saxon leader Bryhtnoth. He was 6 ft 5 inches tall and was killed during the battle. His men recovered his body but not his head. During Victorian excavations of Ely Cathedral the body of a 6ft 5 Saxon was found with a beeswax head. The Victorians mishandled his body and the bones disintegrated. These bones are supposed to be his.
A recent addition to the church (1992) is The Octagon which provides a meeting room and social space to the south of the present building.