St Edmund’s Church is located in the centre of the village and is situated in a small church yard, which is grassed and contains a number of trees. The present Church dates from the 14th and 15th centuries although there are indications of a 12th century origin including the dedication to St Edmund an Anglo-Saxon Saint’s name. During the Middle Ages the nuns of Barking Abbey were the patrons of the Church, hence the word Abbess in the name of the village.
The church is a Grade II* listed building consisting of a nave, chancel, north vestry, south porch and tower. The nave is believed to have been rebuilt during the 14th century and the chancel during the 14th and 15th centuries and the whole considerably restored in 1867. In keeping with the Victorian’s revival of Gothic architecture the tower was added at that time to replace the wooden bell turret with spire that was formerly there. There is a sketch held in the vestry from 1797 showing what the Church looked like before the tower was added.
The Church has some interesting historic features. There is an oak rood screen at the entrance to the chancel; it is a fine example of 15th century carving. It is thought to have been brought from Barking Abbey and has been cut to fit the chancel arch. There is square Norman style font dating from the 12th century. This was made at the time of the Crusades and evidence of Eastern influence can be seen in the carvings on the sides. Since the Reformation these carvings and their possible non-Christian origins have caused concern at times. In 1638 the Archdeacon ordered the font to be painted to cover the carvings and traces of the green paint can still be seen. Later it is said that the font was removed from the Church and damaged by Cromwell’s soldiers, Essex being a strong area of support for Parliament during the Civil War. John Thurloe (1616-68) who served in Cromwell’s government was born and baptised in Abbess Roding, his father Thomas being the Rector from 1612-33.
Most of the windows contain stained glass including some of fifteenth century origin. The east window above the altar was rebuilt in the 19th century, the design being a copy of a prizewinning window shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851. There are three bells which are still rung on occasions. The oldest of the three was cast in 1408 and the newest in 1665.
In the nave there are several memorial tablets, on the north wall there is a large tablet to the memory of Sir Gamaliel Capel, with figures of himself, his wife and their nine children kneeling in prayer. Opposite on the south wall is a tablet dating from 1633 and commemorates Mildred, wife of Sir William Lucklyn accompanied by Angels who is shown looking through curtains with her head reclining on her right hand while her left hand is on an open book.
The Church is in good condition and well looked after having had a substantial redecoration in 2003. The Church is open every day so you welcome to come along and pay us a visit.
Where to find us
Essex CM5 0PA