St. Mary Magdalene, Wethersfield

United Benefice of
Finchingfield with Cornish Hall End,
Wethersfield and Shalford

The beautiful thirteenth century parish church of St Mary Magdalene is situated on the High Street in Wethersfield, overlooking the village green.





Church services generally follow a repeating pattern every month.

1st Sunday


Time to Be

2nd Sunday


Morning Prayer

3rd Sunday


Morning Prayer

4th Sunday





Morning Prayer


Morning Prayer each Thursday is followed, at 9am, by informal meetings with Villagers.

If there is a 5th Sunday in a month, a United Benefice Service is held at 11am at one of the churches in the benefice.

* Time to Be is held at 4pm in Winter - when the clocks change.

If you would like a lift to any of the services in the benefice, or wish to receive holy communion at home, please contact the Parish Priest or the Churchwardens.

For details of the benefice Sunday School, please contact the Reader.




Please contact the Parish Priest for Baptisms, Marriages and when you are in need of help. During this difficult time there is always someone available to talk to you.

Communion may be brought to the homes of the sick and housebound.

Would newcomers to the village please make us aware of their presence.

Please contact us on the telephone numbers in Who's Who, or by email to

Who's Who


Any of the team would be happy to hear from you.

Parish Priest

01371 810309

The Rev'd Alex Shannon

Associate Minister

01371 851317

The Rev’d Canon Janet Nicholls


01371 850781

Mrs Sarah Pilgrim


07939 030833
07801 868278

Mr Ben Walmsley
Mr David Seacombe

 Hon. Secretary
 Hon. Treasurer

07775 675701
07939 578813

Mr Brian Muir
Mr Billy Sykes

Ringing Master

01371 850481

Mr Roy Threadgold




It may surprise you to know that the central church does not own the oldest public building in the village; the responsibility to maintain it, and the graveyard, is entirely that of those of us in the parish. We have to pay for its running costs and repairs.

It costs around £440 per week to keep St Mary Magdalene open, and we rely on standing orders, collections made during services and fundraising events for our income.

We are grateful for every contribution, however small. A regular gift helps us meet our obligations, particularly now that we are not making cash collections during services. If you feel able to assist, then the details are below.

  Sort Code: 20 97 40 Account Number: 70950300
  Account Name: St Mary Magdalene Wethersfield Parish Church

If you pay tax, then we can claim another 25% from the Government.


With your assistance we can conserve our beautiful and venerable building, not just for ourselves now, but for future generations.




The Parish of Wethersfield is committed to the safety and welfare of all who participate in our worship and other activities.

The PCC has adopted the House of Bishops’ Promoting a Safer Church: Safeguarding Policy Statement

Our Parish Safeguarding Officer is: Mrs S. Pilgrim, who may be contacted via

The Diocesan Safeguarding Team can be contacted by emailing or by calling 01245 294490

If you have a safeguarding concern, you may also wish to contact the Essex Safeguarding Children Board:
  Tel: 0345 603 7627 (Children & Families Hub)
  Tel: 0345 606 1212 (Urgent & 24-hour Contact)

Further contact details can be found at Safeguarding Contacts



Wethersfield Parochial Church Council is the data controller (contact details below). This means it decides how your personal data is processed and for what purposes.

Why do we process your personal data?

We use the personal data you provide on the electoral roll application form to enable us to manage, maintain and publish the electoral roll in accordance with Church Representation Rules (CRR) to:

  • determine eligibility for attendance and participation at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting and for election to the Parochial Church Council, deanery, diocesan and general synods where applicable;
  • calculate the number of representatives who may be elected to each of these synods in the following year;
  • undertake a review and revision of the electoral roll as necessary; and
  • publish your name, by exhibiting the roll in the parish church or the church website.

We also need to collect your name and contact details when you attend a church service for Covid-19 Track and Trace purposes.

What is the lawful basis for processing your personal data?
  1. Processing for the purpose of determining eligibility, creating the electoral roll and use of the roll to calculate numbers for election to synod is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation. The processing is a statutory requirement imposed by the Church Representation Rules, which means that you must give us this information if you want to be included on the electoral roll.
  2. Processing for the purpose of determining eligibility and creating or revising the electoral roll is carried out in the course of our legitimate activities, as this relates solely to members the Church of England in connection with its purposes.
  3. Processing for the purpose of publishing the electoral roll relates to personal data which are manifestly made public by the data subject. When you apply to have your name added to the church electoral roll, the automatic legal consequence as stated in the CRR, (Part I Formation of the Roll 1(8) and Revision of Roll and Preparation of New Roll 2(1), 2(3) and 2(7)) is that your name and address will be published, and by submitting your application form you are making that data public.
Sharing your personal data

Your personal data will be shared within the institutional Church of England and with the general public.

How long do we keep your personal data?

We keep your personal data for 6 years after a complete review of the electoral roll, or, for Track and Trace purposes, for up to 1 month after the last service that you attended, unless you have otherwise given us verbal or written permission to keep it longer, for convenience.

Your rights and your personal data

Unless subject to an exemption you have the following rights with respect to your personal data:

  • The right to request a copy of your personal data which we hold about you;
  • The right to request that we correct any personal data if it is found to be inaccurate or out of date;
  • The right to request your personal data be erased where it is no longer necessary for us to retain such data;
  • The right, where there is a dispute in relation to the accuracy or processing of your personal data, to request that a restriction is placed on further processing;
  • The right to object to the processing of your personal data for direct marketing and to have that processing stopped;
  • The right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioners Office.
Contact Details

You can contact the Information Commissioners Office on 0303 123 1113 or via email
or at the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF.

Amazon Smile


Did you know that if you shop online at Amazon Smile rather than Amazon, then Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to your own selected charity?

You may already be supporting national charities through this route, but recently we’ve added two of the village’s own charities onto Amazon, so that you can pick them instead.

This is an easy way for you to help Wethersfield whenever you shop with Amazon, in perpetuity, for no extra cost to yourself.

The two Wethersfield charities have been managed quietly and diligently for years. Indeed, one of them was started in 1702.

1. Richard Walford's Charity, which funds the upholding and repairing of Wethersfield Church.
2. Fitch's and Mott's Educational Charity, which provides funds principally for the Primary School, also the Pre-School and other educational causes in the village.

These are both carefully managed endowments with a team of local trustees and incur no administration costs.

The capital is managed professionally in the COIF (Charities Investment Fund) and each year the entire dividend gets paid out to their causes. Both charities would be delighted to receive more funding.

When shopping through Amazon Smile, you will find the exact same low prices and selection.

First select the charity at If you already have a nominated charity then you will need to change it.

Importantly, whenever you shop on Amazon you will need to do so via Amazon Smile, but it usually asks if you’d like to switch, if you forget.

What are you waiting for?   Feel free to spread the word - happy shopping!  Thank you.




St Mary Magdalene Wethersfield

Wethersfield takes its name from an old English personal name ‘Wutha’, probably the name of headman of a clan which settled here in the early Anglo Saxon period. It is first mentioned as a community in the Domesday Book which was compiled between 1086 and about 1120.

Wethersfield is a large parish, the Church being on high ground in the centre of the village. Wethersfield was a single manorial estate until it was divided into sub manors. Before the Norman Conquest in 1066 the Earl of Mercia owned most of the village but it was given to a Frenchman named Picot after the Conquest. It is likely that a Church was built here in the Earl’s time, and traces of what is considered to be an Anglo Saxon Church can be seen in the thickness of the wall in the North West corner of the nave. We can be reasonably certain that there has been a place of worship here for at least one thousand years. If only five burials took place each year during that time, some five thousand Wethersfield people lie within a few yards of this building.

The Parish Church is mainly C12 to early C15. Beginning as a smallish, ill lit, Anglo Saxon Church, probably just a nave and chancel, it was augmented about the year 1200 by a massive low rise tower stretching the full width of the nave. The tower survives largely intact from that time. Complete with its original window openings, doorway and door. The wall of the nave was later pierced to form an arcade, and a south aisle was constructed at the same time.

About one hundred years later the same thing happened on the north side; the south aisle was also lengthened. It is likely that the construction of the two aisles coincided with peaks in population growth. The chancel was rebuilt around 1340, a few years before the Black Death (1348) reduced the population by at least a third, perhaps as much as half. You will see that the Chancel has the axis deflected to the north, usually it would be deflected to the south.

In about the year 1400 the south aisle was rebuilt and the south porch was added to it, fifty years later a porch was added to the north aisle of the Church. The nave was probably as gloomy as the chancel until a clerestory was added in the C16. Little further structural change occurred until 1750 when the north porch was rebuilt. Between 1872 and 1877 the Church was restored and an organ chamber and vestry were built on the south side of the Church. Ewan Christian, a nationally known Church architect, oversaw the restoration.

At ground level in the Tower there is a feature that may be unique in Essex, this is the so called ‘Samson post’, a massive timber post, probably of the C17 which supports the floor above and the wooden frame of the spire. Such posts were more commonly used in the construction of wooden ships. The C14 north door is original.

There are eight bells in the tower, one dated 1623 is by Miles Graye 1 of Colchester, who was known as the ‘prince of founders’. He was the first of three generations of founders all named Miles Graye who produced bells for nearly a century. When Miles 1 died in 1649 he was, to use his own words, ‘crazed with age but of perfect mind and memory’.

The font used in the Church today is a Victorian replica of the disused 14C font now situated almost next to it. It was situated for many years in the south porch and was brought in to its present position as the south porch is now converted into the toilet area.

There are fragments of C14 glass collected in several windows in the Church. There is also some later glass including the badge of Anne Boleyn in the windows of the south aisle. The badge consists of a crowned falcon holding a sceptre.

In the chancel there is a C17 communion table. The rood screen is mainly C15 but has been much restored. There are two ‘sedilia’ (vicar’s seats) in the south wall of the Chancel and a double ‘picinae’ with two drains (stone wash bowls) they are well preserved and date from the C14.

The principle monument in the church is also in the chancel on the north side. It consists of an altar tomb with alabaster effigy of a man, probably Henry Wentworth, in plate armour, his feet resting on a unicorn (minus the horn) and the effigy of a woman (probably Elizabeth Howard, his first wife) in a long cloak and wearing a necklace of roses. You will see that the effigies still retain traces of their original colouring and gilding, but in addition to this they are covered with an extraordinary number of graffiti. Scratched into the soft alabaster, these initials and dates (many from the C17) totally disfigure the effigies and remind us that graffiti are not a new problem.

Above the tomb, balanced on what appears to be the original iron bracket is a C16 helmet with a unicorn crest. Such helmets are very flimsy and were made especially for funerals. Close to the Wentworth tomb are some high quality floor slabs which cover the graves of the Mott family who were generous benefactors to the poor of this parish in the C18.

Two Wethersfield worthies must be mentioned. The first is a man named Patrick Punty, born a Gaelic speaking Catholic in County Down, he transformed himself into Patrick Bronte, a Church of England clergyman who was curate here from 1806 to 1809. He was of course father of the Bronte sisters. The Bronte Society unveiled a plaque in his memory by the south door some years ago. The second worthy is Captain Charles Clerke, son of a Wethersfield farmer, who accompanied Captain James Cook on four expeditions. Having witnessed Captain Cook’s murder in Hawaii, Clerke took command of the expedition but died of TB on his way home to England.

St Mary Magdalene is, like all our parish Churches, unique in its own right and reflects the care given to it today and for the last thousand years by the people of Wethersfield.

John Townrow



Churchyard - Proposed Works


For several years we have been talking about matters that need attending to in the graveyard, but our focus has had to be on the fabric of the building itself. As work on the Nave roof concludes, our thoughts can now turn to making the churchyard safer, and a more pleasant place to be in.

A discussion with the Archdeacon in early 2020, about the need to rebuild many graves where the mortar or iron had failed, led to a suggestion that the grave tablets were instead laid flat on the ground.

This proposal suggests which graves this should be done for, and also identifies those tombs whose state of disrepair is a health and safety matter, and which also require remedial action.

We also propose a number of other beneficial/aesthetic improvements to the graveyard, reusing materials already present for other purposes, such as (re) building the boundary walls, and to secure steep/crumbling banks.

There is also the much needed Hoggin Path and kerbing to the main door, to be paid for by Independent Friends.

Proposals for consideration:

  1. Deconstruction of dangerous / falling down tombs, adjacent to the main path and the North Porch main entrance
  2. Deconstruction of dangerous / falling down tombs, adjacent to the main path on the West side.
  3. Deconstruction of dangerous / falling down tombs, near to the Tower door.
  4. Create low retaining wall to East side of North Porch.
  5. Remake Entrance Path.
  6. Infill the path to the North West Gate.
  7. Create a modest retaining wall by the North West Gate.
  8. Dig out the old compost/coke heap on the Western Boundary.
  9. Rebuild the southern Graveyard boundary wall, using bricks recovered from site.
  10. Build a wall along the boundary of the extended Graveyard with Ivanhoe House, using bricks recovered from site.
  11. Ease sundry tilted gravestones back to vertical, where required, and secure them.
  12. Rebuild single brick width wall, adjacent to Hillside Cottage.
  13. Rebuild part of double brick width wall, adjacent to the garden of Hillside Cottage.
  14. Levelling/infill of sundry parts of the graveyard to ease grass-cutting.

Works to be carried out a minimal cost but to a high standard, ideally calling upon the talents of the community. Most of the works require labour, rather than materials. It is envisaged that many of the materials that will be needed are already on site, either currently discarded, or made available by predecessor works. Item 5 and sundry other, minimal costs, may be paid for by the Independent Friends fund.

Please click on the links below for a summary of each proposal item. There is no particular timescale to which we can commit - it depends on the availability of both volunteer labour and nominal funding. We may not be able to achieve all of the proposals.

We understand the sensitivity of works to a churchyard. If you have concerns about any aspect of the proposed works then we would be pleased to hear them. In the first instance, please let us know your thoughts by email to

Proposed Works 1


Deconstruction of dangerous / falling down tombs, adjacent to the main path and the North Porch main entrance


Proposed Works 2


Deconstruction of dangerous / falling down tombs, adjacent to the main path on the West side


Proposed Works 3


Deconstruction of dangerous / falling down tombs, near to the Tower door


Proposed Works 4


Create low retaining wall to East side of North Porch.


Proposed Works 5


Remake Entrance Path


Proposed Works 6


Infill the path to the North West Gate


Proposed Works 7


Creating a modest retaining wall by the North West Gate (this area needs constant clearing)


Proposed Works 8


Dig out the old compost/coke heap on the Western Boundary


Proposed Works 9


Rebuild the southern Graveyard boundary wall, using bricks recovered from site - it has been collapsed for decades


Proposed Works 10


Build a wall along the boundary of the extended Graveyard with Ivanhoe House, using bricks recovered from site


Proposed Works 11


Ease sundry tilted gravestones back to vertical, where required and where possible, and secure them


Proposed Works 12


Rebuild single brick width wall, adjacent to Hillside Cottage


Proposed Works 13


Rebuild part of double brick width wall, adjacent to the garden of Hillside Cottage






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