Carol Service 2023

About 60 people gathered at St Clement's church to enjoy the 2023 carol service. The service was led by Rev David Peterson the organ was played by Jayne Mathews who did a brilliant job dispite machanical problems with the organ, we would also like to thank the many people who did the readings.
The service was organised by the associates church team and Sarah Mann.
P&G supplied the evening's refreshments.
The service was attended by Jackie Doyle Price (local MP) and the Thurrock's Lady Mayor Susan Little.


St Clements Played Host To T100 Sounds

The weekend of 7th to 9th July St Clements church hosted the T100 Thurrock Soundscape, a specially commisssioned audio installation created by Fotis Begklis and community members from across Thurrock. This was part of Kinetika's 2023 Sound Festival.
The recordings took place between March and June 2023 and icluded
Rainham Marshes:- Walking, Dreaming and Birdsong.
The Big Roar:- The ever evolving industry in Purfleet.
Fragments of Sound:- Walking from Purfleet to St Clements.
Children:- From the East Tilbury primary School to Coalhouse Fort
The four soundscapes were played simultaneously through eight speakers placed in four areas of the church which allowed the listener time to immerse themselves in the sounds of Thurrock. The rustle of leaves in the nearby woods, the gentle lapping of the river edge, loud industrial estates,children being children, every sound designed to captivate the sense of hearing and imagination.
Visitors to St Clements were also intrigued by the church building, which most perhaps had only witnessed from outside
Ira Gill


The church was open for the Jubilee weekend unfortunately visitor numbers were down on what we would normally expect,but because of that a good amount of work around the church was able to be completed by the teams on both days. A big thank you to the teams on Saturday & Sunday who were Mav Mills, Tom Padwick, Ira Gill and Tom Watt


Brian & Carol Eames

The church team lost two of its most valuble members while we have been away Brian Eames died after a long illness and Carol suffered a stroke and is now being looked after in a nursing home. Brian was for many years the treasurerure of the St Clements church team and was the main host for our Christmas carol services, when he became ill Carol took over the treasureer role on the team.Both will be greatly missed our thoughts are with her at this time hoping for a recovery.


Gerry Hughes

Gerry Hughes ashes have been buried in the churchyard next to the Cornwall Boys grave a comemorative stone has also been laid (picture right).

GERALD HUGHES 1932-2020.

The St Clement church team are sad to report that their chairman Gerry Hughes died recently, deepest sympathy goes to his family and friends. Gerry will also be deeply missed for the time,enthusiasm and leadership he committed to St Clements and by all of us that worked with him.
Gerry retired in 1992 following a long career at P&G where he was a manager in the engineering department. On retirement he moved to Walton on the Naze where he was very involved with the RNLI, where he was involved in the restoration of an old lifeboat. His love of the water saw him purchase his own boat and he enjoyed nothing more than sailing around the coast. While he was working at London Plant he was part of a small team set up when St Clements Church was taken in house by P&G. He was also involved in the major renovations of the church. In later years following his move back to Rochford from Walton, he got involved once again in St Clements Church and became chairman of the team made up from P&G Associates. He was involved in arranging the yearly carol service which has grown from a small gathering to over 120 each year, which is made up from local dignitaries and community members. His tireless work, commitment and passion has seen the church go from strength to strength over the past few years. He was also a volunteer visitor on the Associate Scheme and a key member of the overall team. His passing leaves a large void in the Associates team and he will be sorely missed by all.


St Clements is now on Twitter & Facebook
See us on Twitter :- @stclementswt
On Facebook its :- stclementschurch westthurrock


St Clements 2019 Carol Service

Over 100 people attended the carol service on the 13th December, the congregation was joined by Jackie Doyle Price (MP for Thurruck),Terry Piccolo(Mayor of Thurrock) and Alina Olaru (HR Leader P&G). As well as the usual readings and carols we were entertained this year by the very talented Lynn Lee singing group. A great night why not come along next year.
See video below for singers in action.

St Clements 11th November

St Clements will be open on the 11th November to commemorate Armistice day and the 100 year anniversary of the Great War. The plaque in St Clements is probably the official memorial as its the only one to name the men from West Thurrock who lost their lives in the Great War. The plaque contains 67 names of West Thurrock men who were killed in the Great war, and 21 of them were names that were of P&G people that may be related, so the church will be open to all for people who want to come and pay their respects.

Remembering Chris Harold

Chris Harold.

The St Clements church team were sad to hear the news that Chris Harold has passed away after a short illness. Chris worked at Procter & Gamble when St Clements church was deconsecrated and handed over to P&G in 1987. Chris was project manager and worked closely with engineer Gerry Hughes, both tasked with renovating the church and churchyard back to as near as possible to its original condition. He was also a local historian and wrote many articles about Thurrock and the church most noticeable of these was the booklet portraying St Clements history from the early 12th century to modern times. Although as project manager most of the renovation involved the building itself Chris tracked down many of the artefacts seen in the church today. He will be missed by all connected with the church for his knowledge and enthusiasm.

Chris will be laid to rest at St Peters church Nevendon at 2-30pm on November 1st
Afterwards at Pitsea Mount Community Association Hall, Brackendale Avenue Pitsea SS13 3DB.

Another film at St Clements!!
Back in August St Clements was again the location for film making. This time a film, titled Tough Crowd, follows the story of Felix Follitt, a funeral comedian trying to survive his first gig. The quirky script, having been rejected by other local churches, was embraced by Gerry and the committee at St. Clement s, who saw the film s potential and welcomed it with open arms.Read the full report at Tough Crowd

New Addition

There is a new addition to the website its a 1957church booklet about St Clements & St Stephens (Purfleet)
A fascinating look at the history of both churches well worth a read
Check out the adverts from the booklet some people will remember the shops and business's
how easy the phone numbers were to remember then!

Click on the link above:- 1957 Church History.


If you would like to use St Clements for your choir practice, rehersal for a play or maybe a group visit to the church,click on the Visitor Information button above.

For directions to St Clements click on the Find Us button above.


Showcase At St Clements

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.

Members of the Charlotte Turner-Kersley Musical Theatre Group.


Contact The Elderly

With our rapidly ageing population and with many older people in Thurrock suffering from loneliness and social isolation, leading UK charity Contact the Elderly has launched a new tea party group for people aged 75 and over to provide a regular and vital friendship link every month. The first tea party took place in St Clement's Church which was generously lent to the group by Local company P&G (Procter & Gamble) who look after the property which dates back to the 11th century and is famous for being featured in the romantic comedy film, Four Weddings and a Funeral. As an extra special highlight to the launch, a donation cheque for £200 was presented to the group by Ira Gill on behalf of Procter and Gamble whose generous support is very much welcomed by the new group. Loraine Coleman P&G retiree is the Group Co-ordinator for the Thurrock group and her husband Mick Coleman also P&G retiree is a volunteer driver. P&G Associates or employees interested in volunteering for Contact the Elderly once a month as a driver, twice a year as a host, or as a coordinator can contact Katy Szita, East Anglia Development Officer on 0208 530 0494 or email or Loraine Coleman on 07468 573500.

Loraine Coleman from Contact the Elderly (orange top)
seated next to Ira Gill from the friends of St Clements team,
hosting the first tea party in St Clements church.

The group with Ira & Loraine outside the church



A centenary memorial service was held at St Clements church for the boys from the training ship Cornwall who lost their lives in a tragic incident on the Thames in 1915.
Nearly 100 people attended the service on 30th August exactly 100years to the day of the incident.The congregation included the Mayor of Thurrock, Deputy Mayor, representatives from Procter & Gamble, Royal Navy Cadets and their Officers, members of the Merchant Navy Association and many members of the public these included a great niece of one of the boys that died ( his story is on the right of this page).
Before the service Jonathan Catton gave a talk about the incident and life on the training ships on the Thames at that time, Wendy Small great neice of Harry Lee gave a moving account of how she learned about her uncle's fate from her mother and the fact that his family may not have known about the incident until after he was buried.
During the service wreaths were laid by the Mayor, the Royal Navy Cadets,the Merchant Navy Association, and a replica (see picture) of the original wreath from 1915 was laid by representatives from Procter & Gamble.
Andy Smerdon played the last post wearing a WW1 army uniform, this served as a reminder that the Great War was happening at the time of the Cornwall incident.
After the service the Mayor unveiled a new Thurrock Heritage Plaque to commemorate those that lost their lives.(see pictures below)

Jonathon Catton talks to the congregation about
TS Cornwell before the commemorative service

Part of the congegation at the grave

The Mayor Sue Gray laying her wreath, below the replica
of the 1915 wreath

Bugler Andy Smerdon playing the last post

The Mayor unveils the Heritage Plaque The plaque is shown below


H.M.Training Ship Cornwall Disaster at Purfleet
August 30th 1915

Research and Presentation by Jonathan Catton
Heritage & Museum Officer, Thurrock Museum.

Do you know someone who served on TS Cornwall? we'd be interested to hear any information you may have about life on the Cornwall before 1915 or until she was decommissioned.

When you visit St. Clements Church, West Thurrock, you will see a mass burial grave just to the right of the gate leading into the grave yard and church. The burial contains the 16 boys drowned in an accident while serving on the ship, a separate grave close bye is of the Officer in charge of them who also lost his life.

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.


Visiting St Clements

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