St Mary’s Rivenhall

St Mary’s Rivenhall 980 AD

  1. C980 AD Previous wooden church abutted the eastern end it would have been similar to Greensted, Ongar
  1. Radio Carbon Dating of burials which followed the apsidal curve (see top sketch) indicate a strong likelihood the structure pre dates 1066

St Mary’s Rivenhall 1300 AD

3. This phase was was fairly accurately dated at between 1300 & 1310 when Almoner Bluntesdone was rector; Robert Burnell d. 1292 Edward 1st s Chancellor was patron. An attempt had been made to build a tower in the previous century but got no further than trenches  being dug. This tower was built without proper foundations & it fell in 1710.

Imagine the shock when the village woke one morning in 1714 to find the church tower had collapsed. A tower had been planned in the 14th century but it was probably the Black Death plague that delayed it. When it was eventually built a century later,  were the foundations inadequate for the sand and gravel sub soil, or was the tower struck by lightning? We may never know! We do know that parts of the church have sound well constructed foundations, whilst in other places the foundations are negligible.

4.    Ann Bateman later Western, then Doliffe bought much needed wealth into the hard-up Western estate

5.   1838 After years of Neglect, Lord Western was persuaded to rebuild; with John Adey Repton’s symmetrical design he paid Wm. Siggers to do a rude & unseemly repair.


The History of Rivenhall Church

Until the early part of this century, the church stood in virtual isolation. In 1848 grave digging located the walls and floor of a Roman villa and in 1951-1952 excavations uncovered more of the villa.

In 1971 a small excavation against the south wall of the chancel resulted in evidence of a pre-historic occupation of the site dating from the late Iron Age, and above this the remains of a first century A.D. roman masonry building.  Its foundations were shown to be two periods Saxon and 14th century.  This extended the known history of the church back beyond the earliest recorded historical date of 1185. There have probably been Christians worshipping at the site since at least 800 AD and probably earlier.

By the 19th century Rivenhall church had an early Georgian tower and window at the west end.  However, in 1837-39 Lord Western of Felix Hall, Kelvedon, gutted the structure and totally remodelled both its internal and external appearance.  Brick, plaster and cement were the only materials used.

Later, the Curate the Rev’d Bradford Hawkins, purchased from Chenu in France some 12th century stained glass now contained in the East window.

6.  Bradford Denne Hawkins counter-restoration: the destruction of 1838 (the Earthquake) was mollified by Samuel Parmenter, builder of Braintree; the south porch was built & doorway re-opened and the draughty tower-door of 1838 was kept shut. Floors were lowered to their