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Notes on Essex Churches

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Brief comments on history of Essex churches

The successive invasions of Romans, Saxons and Normans heavily influenced the placement and style of churches in particular, and Essex has over 400 church buildings which are listed as being of special architectural and historic interest. Many village churches today stand in isolation next to the manor house or hall. This apparently puzzling situation is the result of them having originally been the property of the lord of the manor and of subsequent settlement shift, and also of the dispersed (as opposed to nucleated) settlement pattern which characterizes parts of the Essex countryside.

The parish church occupies a unique position in the landscape, symbolising the life and history of the community in which it is situated. In the monuments, glass, fittings and furnishings it is often possible to trace the outline of the history of the parish, and also the evolution of changing architectural and artistic fashion from the Middle Ages up till the present day. Essex churches range from small buildings tucked away in surprisingly rural locations, little altered in the last 500 years, to fine gothic buildings which reflect the prosperity of the medieval wool and cloth industry in the north of the county.