St Andrew, Rochford

St Andrew's Church is a typical example of 13th/14th century stone construction, with an impressive 16th century brick tower, featuring diapering decoration, and with the Coat of Arms of the Earl of Ormonde, who was responsible for its construction. To the north is the vestry, a late 16th century brick addition. Outside, the Grade II listed grave of James Banyard - founder of The Peculiar People - can be found.

Approaching Rochford from the west, one passes The Lawn, nowadays a fine function suite, but originally a substantial house going back to the 18th century and beyond, possibly used as a gatehouse to Rochford Hall, a mile further ahead. This road, with two Grade II listed milestones still in place, was built in 1777 by the then owner of the Hall to dissuade travellers from the natural approach to Rochford running past his front door.

Adjacent to the Church is the headquarters of Rochford Hundred Golf Club, we see just one corner of what was a very large manorial house. Opinions differ as to its age, but it probably had origins in the 12th/13th century. Certainly we know that it was in the ownership of the Boleyn family in the early 16th century when the Earl of Ormonde, Ann Boleyn's grandfather had regained possession by petitioning Henry VII. It passed to Ann's father and then, there being no male heir, to Ann's sister, Mary, who had married Sir William Stafford. Little evidence exists to support local legends about Ann residing at the Hall for any lengthy period, but Mary and her husband did take up residence here and farmed in the area. A little later ownership fell to the Earls of Warwick, with Richard Rich being the most notable resident so far as Rochford is concerned. He was Lord Chancellor of England and died at Rochford Hall in 1567.

In days gone by Rochford was the centre of activity for miles around, the chief town of the Rochford Hundred, a sub-division of Essex. That importance, long before the establishment of Southend, or the growth of Rayleigh, has left its mark today and it is well worth exploring that heritage.

Here are some pictures of St Andrew's Church::

View of the church from the South

View of the chuch from the West

View of the church from the East

The entrance door

View of the church from the approach road

All photographs are copyrighted to Peter King and must not be reproduced without permission.

Copyright St Andrew PCC, 2015