Some of the History of St Nicholas

Church from NW

These are notes taken from a plaque in the church but more information is available in this history of St Nicholas (just one caveat – the tower is about 55ft high not 70ft, this was confirmed after extensive research for the Teddy Tower Zip Trip!)

The Church of St Nicolas and the parish of Rawreth Essex.

THE VILLAGE was mentioned in the various documents thus:

  • In 1177 it appears as RAGGEREA
  • In 1183 in a Pipe Roll it is RAFERUGGE
  • In 1240 it is RAGHERETHE
  • In 1242 in a “Feet of Fines” as RAGHERETH
  • In 1267 in a Charter Roll as RAURETH
  • Another later version was RALIREHITHE

Old English ‘HRAGRA’ means HERON and ‘RIP’ or ‘RITHE’ means STREAM. The name of our Parish could therefore mean “Heron Stream”. Herons are still seen occasionally around Rawreth Brook and the banks of the River Crouch.

THE CHURCH of 1450 was replaced in 1823 by a building which cost £400. This was demolished in 1881 and replaced by the present church in 1882 and dedicated by the Bishop of Colchester on 21st November 1882. The architect was the Rev Geldart, Rector of Little Braxted. The builder was J. H. Wray of Chelmsford. The church cost £2,500 and was rebuilt largely of old materials in brick faced with Kentish ragstone. The dressed stone is Blue Bath. All that remains of the mediaeval church, apart from the tower, is the arch and part of the west wall of the north aisle and the south arcade of the nave.

THE BELLS were cast circa 1320 by John de Hadham and, if not the oldest, among the six oldest in Essex.

  • Tenor 2’9¾” diameter: 486½ Hz (A = 404Hz or cycle per second) strike note: weight 7 hundredweight 2 stones
  • Treble 2’6½” diameter: 544¾ Hz strike note: weight 5 hundredweight and 2 stones

The tenor bell is in the scribe “Jam Tempus Est” which means literally “Now is the time”. The bell-frame is of oak, of considerable antiquity and maybe the same date as the bells. It is heavily decayed therefore the bells are static and must not be rung. It is hoped to renovate the frame in the near future enabling the bells to be swung. (Renovation has taken place and the bells are now regularly rung before services.)

St Nicholas Organ

THE ORGAN is one of the smallest in the country, with the fewest stops and the tiniest pedal board to be found anywhere. It was probably built by Bryceson & Ellis of London between 1860 and 1870 and has a single-manual, tracker action, the small pedal-board probably added later. The three stops are:

  • Open diapason 8 feet
  • Gamba 8 feet
  • Lieblich flute 4 feet

The 150 pipes can produce some extremely pleasant sounds and with a little dexterity at least five tonal colours are available. The pedal board has no pipes of its own and merely pulls down the lowest 1½ octaves of keys.
(Extracted from a report by Gerald Usher, February 1991)

THE MEMORIAL to Sir Edmund and Lady Susan Tyrrell of Beaches, 1576, consists of a stone tablet which includes an arch supported by two columns illustrating the Renaissance influence and filled with Gothic tracery. Lady Tyrrell wears a Mary Queen of Scots head address.
The manor of Beaches lies between Battlesbridge and Hullbridge and little is known of its history before the time of Edward III. It extended about 257 acres. Edmund Tyrrell, who inherited the manor in 1543, was elected to represent Maldon in the Parliaments of 1, 4 and 5 of Mary. As a magistrate he was zealous in apprehending so-called heretics. In 1555 he was present at the martyrdom of John Simpson at Rochford and John Ardeley at Rayleigh. In 1556 he was instrumental in the prosecution and burning of Tyms and Drake, clergymen of Hockley and Thundersley, whose memorial now stands in Rayleigh High Street.