Broomfield St Mary
St Marys church is located in Broomfield, a small town in Essex just to the north of Chelmsford.
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Visiting Broomfield St Mary
St Mary’s in Broomfield is a church which is usually locked, so if you want to see the interior, you have to make the appropriate arrangements. Which we did, and we received a very warm welcome from the people who opened it for us. Much of the material for building this church came from the site of a Roman building half a mile to the north-west. The round tower was built in the 12th century, probably the same build as the nave and chancel, and the octagonal spire was added about 1430. The spire is shingled and has a splay foot to change from its octagonal to a round shape above the top of the tower. There are four lucarne openings in the spire. The round tower has two levels of slit windows, the lower ones framed with Roman tiles, and the upper ones having been repaired with 17th century bricks. The south-west quoin of the nave is also built of Roman tiles, as is the south-east one. Much of the south nave wall is 12th century work, with Roman tiles and bricks, (some of the longest Roman bricks in the country), which are also used in the west part of the chancel. The south-east quoin of the original chancel is also defined with a vertical line of Roman tiles within the present chancel wall. The chancel was extended eastwards in the 15th century, and below the east window a curious stone head has been re-set. The north aisle, with a Lady Chapel to its east, was built in 1870, but it did replace an earlier one. There used to be a small 14th century north chapel for St Leonard, but it disappeared in 1573. However the Church is still sometimes referred to as being under the protection of St Mary and St Leonard. Nowadays there is a modern Church Hall, built 1997, to the north of the north chapel. About 2/3 of the way along towards the east of the south nave wall is a large piece of ferricrete boulder, protruding at ground level, perhaps a former way mark? The south porch was replaced in the 1870s and is made of wood on a flint base, with a decorative front barge board.
The tower arch is 12th century, stone framed with a round head. On the tower west wall is a modern fresco painting of Jesus stilling the waves, painted on to wet plaster in about 1943, by Rosemary Rutherford, the daughter of the Rector. Near the door is the square Purbeck 13th century font, with three pointed arches to each face of the bowl, standing on four sturdy legs with volute capitals and a modern central column. The chancel has four windows, dated 1954-60, designed by Rosemary Rutherford, who did the fresco in the tower. The east one shows the Risen Lord flanked by Apostles, above scenes of the three Marys, Peter and John at the Tomb, and the road to Emaus. The south chancel ones show the raising of Lazarus, the Woman of Samaria and Jesus washing the Disciples feet. There is a 19th century stone reredos with a carving of The Last Supper.