The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Woodham Ferrers

St.Marys Ink drawing - Charles Tait

Although originally built by Robert de Ferrers (the Earl of Derby) in the 12th century, the surviving church building dates to various phases between c.1250 and c. 1330 and was then “restored” in 1884.

The north and south arcades are early survivals and are of three bays with alternating circular and octagonal piers. Some of the window tracery (bar tracery with quatrefoils in circles) is just post c. 1275. At one time there was an early 16th century tower of flint and stone flushwork, but this has been demolished and the tower arch bricked up. The belfry now rests on a big tie beam.

The south porch is of timber. The clerestory (upper story of the nave walls) is late (19th century) but it has 13th century splays.

Inside the church the font is late 14th / early 15th century,  with an attractive cover; there are several old (15th Century) poppy head bench finials; portions of a 14th century rood-screen and; 14th century painted glass shields of France and England in one of the windows.

The painting over the 13th century chancel arch is also interesting. This is a so-called Doom Painting of the 15th century with Christ seated in the centre (on a rainbow), angels on the left and right and souls below. The mouth of Hell is in the right hand corner.

The monument to Cecily Sandys (née Wilford) (b.1534) is on the north wall of the chancel. Cecily was the (second) wife of Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York (m.1559), and lived at nearby Edwin’s Hall. She died there on the 5th February 1610, was buried in this parish church on the 7th February and eldest son, Sir Samuel, had the monument erected in 1619. It is of alabaster with a kneeling image of Cecily in profile. Father Time (with an hourglass in his hand) in on the left and another figure is missing from the right. There are Victories on the semi-circular pediment and the background is carved with an arbour of roses. The memorial gives a brief outline of her life and on the left hand sde is a list of her children.

Stephen P. Nunn.