A brief history of Holy Trinity, Southchurch
Southchurch has been a centre of Christianity from the earliest days, and it is likely that there was a church here when St.Cedd came to Essex in the year 654.
The area has been inhabited from about 2,000 B.C. and the earliest Christian missionaries must have found a community living by the sea, with marshes on the low-lying ground, and great forests on the higher areas. Certainly Southchurch has earlier documentary evidence than any other church in south-east Essex.
In the year 824, a Saxon thegn named Leofstan presented the manor of Sudcerca (Southchurch) to the monks of Canterbury. The name alone indicates that a church-in-the-south was then in existence. Other lands in Southchurch were given to the monks about the same time by Ealbhirt and sister Salethryt.
The documents relating to Leofstan's gifts are preserved at Lambeth palace, and the Archbishop of Canterbury still holds the patronage of the parish living.
No trace of the original wooden church remains, but the oldest parts of the present church date back to the year 1150. The chancel probably to 1250 A.D. Entrance to this magnificent building is through the ancient porch and Norman doorway, where mallet and chisel marks on the stonework made by the Norman craftsmen can be seen, also the old oak door with its heavy ironwork.
At the west end of this small part of the now larger building, which for many centuries served the rural community, are massive wooden pillars, probably hewn from the old forest of Southchurch. These were put in place in 1666,
and on one pillar is an incision giving the date and two initials "I.A." Higher up on the same pillar is the date 1756, when a gallery was erected for the choir and church musicians. When the gallery was demolished a century later, the choir and orchestra went on strike in protest.
The bell, still calling people to worship, was installed in the 14th century and is inscribed "Johannes".
Near the ancient font is displayed a list of 46 Rectors since the year 1287. Gilbert FitzWilliam was parson from 1193 to 1205 and in 1248 one, Alexander, was in charge. All Rectors except one, Robert Derby, have been
appointed by Archbishops of Canterbury. The See was vacant when Derby was appointed by King Richard 11 in the year 1381.
The church has changed over the centuries and in 1906 a large modern nave by Comper was added to the north wall of the ancient building which, with its north wall removed became the south aisle of the enlarged church,
and the ancient building is now referred to as 'The Old Church'.
The stained glass windows are mainly Victorian and later but are beautiful depicting many saints and biblical events and characters.
The church of Holy Trinity is a historical gem and living history and if you find yourself in the area always make time to visit.
The three documents below are all copies of tours and information that are currently available at the back of Holy Trinity. Please feel free to download them.