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On Sunday 4th October St Clements hosted a showcase event for Charlotte Turner-Kersley's Musical Theatre group.Over 30 pupils took part and there were 85 people in the audience.The event was a great success,this was Charlotte's last showcase in the Essex area but she thought the church was a great venue and would recommend it to anyone.The showcase raised about £70 in donations for the church fund.
|The Cornwall started its role off Purfleet in 1859 with 260 ‘ Juvenile delinquent’ boys sent for training as a court sentence for minor offences. The earliest training ships were run by the The Marine Society, founded in 1756, the society started life recruiting boys and young men for the Royal Navy at the beginning of the Seven Years War against France but, in an effort to reduce desertions, began training its boys before they were sent to sea. In 1876, the Society acquired the training-ship Warspite and by 1911 had sent 65,667 men and boys to sea, of whom 28,538 had gone into the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy's own first training ship was HMS Implacable at Plymouth in 1855 followed by HMS Illustrious at Portsmouth. They aimed to give a training in naval life, skills, and discipline to teenage boys (or 'lads' as they invariably called) and, of course, provide a ready source of recruits for Her Majesty's ships. The various ships catered for boys from a wide range of backgrounds, ranging from fee-paying prospective Merchant Navy officers on the Worcester, through those in Poor Law or other institutional care, to juvenile delinquents placed on reformatory ships such as the Akbar on Merseyside and the Cornwall on the Thames at Purfleet On the 30th August, 1915 the ship was moored at its base off Purfleet close to the Royal Hotel and its compliment of now 275 boys on board. A group of boys were being given sailing instructions in the ships cutter, that morning. Following the Essex coastline alongside Purfleet garrison, she manoeuvred across the river towards the kent coastline. Passing successfully the first of two steam tugs, the proceeding tug ‘A44’ owned by the Government, hit her broadside and at first became entangled with her sails, later the cutter broke away and sank, while all the crew were thrown in to the water. The Officer in charge and 15 boys were drowned, three cadets escaped drowning. A subsequent enquiry found the captain of the tug negligent, for not given way to sail and keeping a proper lookout.|
|The funeral service was held on the 8th September at St. Clements Church, West Thurrock and was attended by 100’s of mourners and dignitaries representing the organisations who ran the ship and military authorities.|
|The 15 boys are all buried in the mass grave, the boy’s tomb stone was replaced by Proctor & Gamble as the stone had laminated and the boys names were becoming unreadable. Mr. Lane the instructor is buried close by. The Cornwall was removed to Gravesend in 1926. When you visit St. Clements do visit the now restored grave and read the names of the boys who perished.|
Visit St Clement's not only because Four Weddings and a funeral was partly filmed here but because it is an ancient church with interesting architectural features and fascinating links to the people of West Thurrock.
The church is on the pilgrims route beside the river crossing mentioned as 'the ferry' in a document from the time of
Henry V.This is very appropriate as St Clement was the patron saint of sailors.
In the churchyard there is the mass grave of the boys from the reformatory ship Cornwall who were drowned in an accident off Purfleet in 1915.There are also the lifesize alabaster effiges of Sir Christopher Holford and his wife made on their deaths in 1607 and 1611.Sir Christopher was a church patron from 1593 to 1609.The church has a record of patrons going back to 1070 some of which are listed below
|1070 Robert Count of Eu||1575 Humphrey Heis|
|1198 Bartholomew Brianson||1584 His son Humphrey Heis|
|1339 Sir William Wanton||1585 Katherine Redinge (formerly Heis|
|1390 Edmund FitzSymond||1593 Sir Christopher Holford|
|1397 The Duchess of Gloustester||1609 Sir Daniel Holford|
|1448 Lord Rivers(formerly Sir Richard Woodville)||1643 Sir Henry Haman|
|1483 Anthony Woodville||1660 Sir Crammer Harris|
|1491 Richard (Earl Rivers)||1680 Cornelius Vandemanker|
|1492 Elizabeth Woodville||1683 Sir Robert Clayton|
|1508 Sir Thomas Gray, Marquis of Dorset||1689 Benjamin Desborough|
|1530 Sir William Hollis||1710 Nathaniel Grantham|
|1544 Humphrey Torrell||1723 Caleb and Mary Grantham|
|1547 Sir Anthony Browne||1767 John Sears and Mary his wife|
|1551 Robert Long||1780 William Hayton and Clara his wife|
|1553 Sir Anthony Browne (Lord of Hastings Castle||1815 William Henry Whitbread MP|
|1559 Cecily Long||1867 Samuel Charles Whitbread MP|
|1567 Viscount Montacute||1879 Samuel Whitbread III M.P.|
|1568 Henry Joscelyn and Anne his wife||1895 Samuel Howard Whitbread J.P.|
|1573 Dame Mary Gate||1921 The Church Pastoral Aid Society|
Perhaps the best story is that a previous vicar of the church carried out the burial of Royal Navy Commander Nathaniel Grantham of High House in the parish.
He died on his ship and was preserved in rum for a week or so before being returned to land and buried in the church.
But how did the vicar know it was rum?
The St Clement's Church Friends group is made up of Procter & Gamble retirees who manage the church, and see that essential repairs are carried out.
They also organise open days for those that want to see and get to know more about the church