The parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin is the largest in Essex, with an overall length of 183 feet, whilst the height of the tower and spire is 193 feet. The East Saxons who gave their name to Essex were pagan, but after St. Cedd led their conversion to Christianity in the 7th century there was in all probability a Saxon wooden church here, The massive Norman stone church that was known to exist in 1130 was rebuilt and enlarged in the early form of the ‘Decorated’ period between 1250 and 1258. A general rebuilding in the ‘Perpendicular’ style was begun in about 1450 and the present church takes a high place, from an architectural point of view, among the parish churches of England. The spire, however, is more modern, for it was built, and the upper part of the tower was renewed, in 1832, to the design of Messrs. Rickman and Hutchinson.
Disabled toilets in the mornings only. Guided tours for groups (need to be booked in advance). Guide leaflets in German, Swedish, Dutch, Polish, Japenese, Chinese, Hungarian, Italian, French, Romanian and Spanish and Russian.