South Ockendon St Nicholas
St Nicholas church is located in South Ockendon, a small town in Essex just outside the M25 London Orbital Motorway.
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Visiting South Ockendon St Nicholas
St Nicholas’ in South Ockendon is one of the more urban Round Tower Churches. And like most of the others in Essex, it is usually locked, meaning you have to plan ahead to see the interior. This Church seems a very dark colour, but it is faced with cut flints and some random pieces of limestone. These flints are very black, possibly coming from chalk pits along the River Thames, about three miles to the south. The tower was probably built first in the 13th century. In 1652/3 there was a lightning strike that destroyed the four bells and the wooden spire. In 1744 the western part of the tower collapsed. Then in 1865/6 the present belfry was added, with the openings having the 19th century idea of a 12th century style. This also applies to the west doorway into the tower. There are two brick framed windows higher on the west wall. However, there is a genuine 12th century north nave doorway, with highly decorative carvings, billet for the outer order, then chevrons and zig-zags. The centre shafts have spirals and shaft rings, the capitals have volutes and foliage. The north aisle was added in the 15th century, the north Chapel with its battlemented parapet was built in the 16th century, and on the south side the aisle, the tower stair turret and the vestry were added in 1865/6.
The tower arch is pointed, and the 19th century font now stands below the tower. The west window lancet contains very striking glass of Christ in Glory, made in 1998. Both the south aisle and the north Chapel are now screened off with glass between the pillars to make separate units. The aisle serves as a meeting room with modern facilities, and the Chapel as a manageable worship space with an altar. The Chapel contains a large monument against the north wall remembering Sir Richard Saltonstall †1601, Lord Mayor of London in 1597, (he wears the insignia of the Lord Mayor), and his wife Suzanna, with their large effigies facing each other, kneeling at prayer desks. Below are the kneeling figures of seven sons and nine daughters. In the floor of the Chapel are the brass figures of a knight, (now headless), in armour, for Sir Ingram de Bruyn †1400 and a well-dressed lady, Margaret Barker †1602. The Chapel is now the Lady Chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham.