St Peter and St Paul, St Osyth, Essex
It was a relief at last to escape the miles of dull Clacton suburbia. I saw a brief flicker of fields, and then I was cycling down into St Osyth, a chocolate box village of jaw-droppingly lovely buildings, the high street with its interesting-looking pubs and independent shops, and the most famous building here, of course, is the gatehouse to the priory, which appears on the front of the BoE volume for Essex. Across the road and down a little lane was the church.
This is a vast church. The great nave with its two aisles is joined to a long chancel. The south aisle extends right to the end of the chancel, the north aisle about half way along it. After urban Clacton it was a pleasure to find sheep grazing the churchyard. You step into a vast nave with the surprise of a red brick arcade and piers on both aisles. The rest of this splendidly maintained church is painted white inside, so the effect is dramatic. The chancel is offset to the north, because they started rebuilding the east end of the church but then the Reformation intervened. The oddest feature is the sheepfold altar rail - the communicants go inside the U and the minister goes around the outside. The church has a great feeling of civic confidence, a lovely church in a lovely village.
But I had to head back the way I had come into the northern suburbs of Clacton to the old former village of Great Clacton.