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Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Southend-on-Sea (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 84157 85832



GV II* C1500, restored 1837-40; chancel extended to East by C F Hayward, 1872; South aisle by E Geldart 1897; other alterations by Sir Charles Nicholson, 1913, 1919.

MATERIALS: Ragstone and flint rubble, except the S porch, which is brick. The medieval rubble work is uncoursed, the C19 and C20 work is coursed. Ragstone and limestone dressings. Tiled roofs.

PLAN: Nave with N and S aisles, that on the S shorter, S porch and W tower. Chancel with N and S chapels and N vestries projecting to the E.

EXTERIOR The church stands high on a hill and dominates the town from the harbour below. It once formed an important landmark in the Thames Estuary. From the east, the church has complex and varied massing, as the S chapel, chancel and N vestries all have different height gabled roofs and are of different lengths. The chancel has a 3-light C19 Decorated style E window, and there is a 2-light Decorated style window in the chancel side wall, apparently copying earlier windows. The early C20 N vestry has a 3-light late Perpendicular style E window. The S chapel, which is shorter than the chancel, has a 3-light Perpendicular style E window and two S windows. The N aisle and N chapel are continuous externally. The 4-light late perpendicular E window with vertical tracery of the aisle is partially visible above the vestry roofs. The N wall has four, 3-light windows with pointed segmental heads and foiled lights, and there is a four light window with vertical tracery in the W wall of the aisle. In the middle of the N wall, the shallow rood stair turret survives.

The S aisle has a shallow, lean-to roof over the SE door and two S windows of 3 lights, and a 2-light W window, also Perpendicular style. The S aisle does not extend the full length of the nave, and the S porch is set to the west of the aisle. The S porch is diapered brickwork and has a moulded, 4-centred brick outer opening under a hood mould with foiled spandrels. The C19 S door incorporates some C15 voussoirs.

The W tower is of three stages and has a prominent, embattled SE stair turret rising above the embattled parapet. The W door has moulded jambs and a pointed arch in a square frame with a hood mould and shields in the spandrels. the 3-light W window has late Perpendicular tracery. The bell stage has large 3-light openings on each side.

INTERIOR The four-centred chancel arch almost fills the nave E wall, and has chamfered orders on polygonal responds with moulded capitals and bases. Largely restored in plaster in the C19, it retains some older parts on the N side. The late C15 or early C16 N chancel arcade, also restored in plaster, has two bays of unequal length, that to the E much lower and narrower, suggesting adaptation of older openings. The pier is octagonal and has a moulded capital and base. The C19 chancel S arcade is of two bays with continuous mouldings on the central pier. The arch between the S chapel and S aisle has continuous hollow chamfers.

The 4-bay N arcade is similar to the chancel N arcade, and there is no structural division between the aisle and the chapel, although the blocked door for the former rood stair is visible at this point. The late C15 or early C16 N aisle is plastered behind the rafters and has curved and moulded principals springing from carved corbels. The wall plates are moulded and embattled. The C19 nave S arcade is 3 bays and also has chamfered arches on polygonal piers with moulded capitals and bases, but the detailing is slightly different to the N arcade and the arches are lower. The nave roof is a fully plastered barrel vault. The tower arch has three hollow chamfered orders on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The door to the tower stair turret is late C15 or C16 and has studded battens.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES The C15 font came from St Swithin, Norwich, replacing a C19 font, and is octagonal with carved lions and angels on the bowl and stem. The cover is c.1983 by H and K Mabbitt. The mahogany chancel reredos is by Ernest Geldart of 1893 and has finely carved figures made in Belgium. The Lady Chapel screen also by Geldart, and originally in St Margaret of Antioch, Stanford-le-Hope, and wrought iron gates by Bodley from St Matthew, Great Peter St, Westminster, were introduced in the late 1990s. The wooden screen at the E end of the N aisle is 1919 by Nicholson as a war memorial, with reticulated tracery above dropped ogee arches, the names of the dead are inscribed along the lower register. C19 nave benches with poppyheads.

There is excellent stained and painted glass of the C18-C20. The chancel E window has very striking painted depiction of the crucifixion against dark clouds, possibly C18 German work. The chancel S window is also painted, and is a copy of designs by Sir Joshua Reynolds for New College, Oxford, depicting Faith and Hope. The chancel N window is by F Preedy, 1872, with a former companion window now in the vestry. Towards the E end of the N aisle, the Good Shepard by Mayer and Co. c.1875 and St Andrew by William White, 1887. The Lady Chapel windows are early C20 by Horace Wilkinson. S aisle windows of 1868 and 1869 by Powell. W window designed by Geldart, 1893. The N aisle windows largely mid to late C20 by Francis Stephenson and W Wilson.

There are a number of good monuments. Brasses including figural brasses to Richard Haddok, d. 1453 and his wife Christine, also his son John and his wife and children, and Richard Chester, Elder Brother of Trinity House, d.1632 and his wife, Elizabeth. Wall monuements include Anne, wife of Sir Edward Whitaker, d. 1705, a white marble tablet with Ionic columns, volute pediment and arms. Robert Salmon, d. 1641, Master of Trinity House and Sheriff of London, an alabaster and black marble memorial with a half figure holding a globe, side pilasters, cornice and achievement of arms, attributed to Thomas Stanton. There are also a number of C17 and C18 floor slabs, many recording maritime connections.

HISTORY Leigh is mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086, but the church is not included, although this was not unusual for Essex and many churches existing at that time were omitted. The first rector is recorded in the C13. Leigh was a port and fishing town, and also had a fair. The whole church was rebuilt in the late C15 or early C16, reflecting the prosperity of the town at that date. Most of the church, including the nave, N aisle and chapel, and W tower was rebuilt in the late C15 or early C16, but the chancel may have been C14 and some evidence for an older structure, including a piscina and parts of a window, were discovered when the N chapel was refitted in the early C20. The S porch and rood stair turret were added in the early C16. The Thames pilots' Guild of the Holy Trinity and St Clement, late Trinity House, had close associations with the church, and many of the monuments record the inhabitants' connections with the sea. All work done to the church in the C17 and C18, such as furnishings, was swept away in the C19 restorations, as was commonly done. The church was restored in 1837-40, and the chancel was extended 16" (4.85m) eastwards by Hayward in 1872. The S aisle was added in 1897 by Geldart, who was also responsible for some refurnishing, and extended eastwards to form the Lady Chapel in 1913 by Sir Charles Nicholson. Nicholson also added the N vestries, and he refitted the E end of the N aisle as a WWI memorial chapel in 1919. The chancel and Lady Chapel were reordered in the 1990s. The S aisle was added to accommodate the growing population of the town, and the Lady Chapel of 1913 was a memorial to Edward King (1829-1910), Bishop of Lincoln, brother of the former Rector, Canon Walker King, and uncle of the then Rector, Canon Robert King (rector 1892-1950). Edward King, who held very High Church views for which he was prosecuted, was considered to be a saint by some, and although he was never canonised, a lesser feast in his honour is part of the Anglican calendar for March 8.

SOURCES RCHME Essex IV (1924), 82-3 Buildings of England: Essex (2007), 700-1

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION The church of St Clement, Leigh on Sea, Essex is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Fine parish church of the late C15 and early C16, sympathetically enlarged and restored in the later C19 and early C20. * The prominent W tower was long a landmark for shipping in the Thames Estuary. * Excellent monuments. * Very good stained glass of the C18-20

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 30 October 2017.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
An Inventory of Essex South East, (1923)
War Memorials Register, accessed 30 October 2017 from


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 30 Oct 1999
Reference: IOE01/01136/12
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Ken Clark. Source Historic England Archive
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