Maldon - St Mary the Virgin
Traditionally known as the Fisherman's Church, St Mary's is located in the port area of Maldon, on The Hythe. There is evidence of ealier timber buildings here from the 7th century which probably fulfilled the same function as the church did in later times: that of beacon to shipping, but also defensive lookout for invaders. The nave was built c.1130 in the reign of Henry I. The original tower of St Mary's was built around 1300, and during the medieval period a beacon fire was lit atop the tower to guide ships on the Blackwater. So important was the tower to local navigation that when it collapsed in 1605 the townsfolk petitioned King James I to rebuild it, but the rebuilding was not complete until 1636. In 1740 the octagonal turret and shingled spire was added, and this still serves as an aid to navigation on the river.