Alan Edward Wood was born 1931 in Hornchurch. His wife Brenda Joyce Wood nee Murray was born 1937 and died in 2012. Her place of birth was South Stifford until she was two years old, then she lived in West Thurrock.
My connection goes back to the years 1938-39 when I was seven and eight years old. My grandfather who lived in Aveley used to walk me around Aveley, Purfleet and West Thurrock areas. He was a very knowledgeable gentleman on many things, one of which was St Clement’s Church, he remembered the disaster of 1915 when the boys and their commanding office of the Training Ship Cornwall and took me to their grave.
The 2nd World War came in September 1939 and that put a stop to our rambles. It was in early 1953 when I was a British Railways Signalman at West Thurrock Sidings Box that I met a local girl, Brenda who was to change my life forever.
We fell in love almost at once, we courted for two years, of which for one, we were engaged and married on the 5th March 1955 at St Clement’s Church by Eric Hedley Holliday the Vicar; it was his last year in office.
We were blessed with three sons and two daughters, and our marriage was to last 57½ years when sadly Brenda passed away in 2012 aged 75½ years. We never really lost touch with the church. As a young local girl, Brenda attended St Clement’s Sunday School and she was in the choir just like her mother and aunts had been before her. It was early 1969 when we moved from Elm Park to West Thurrock. This was to change our lives over the next 18 years. Our children were all of school age and to put it in a nutshell we all grew up together there. Therefore like their mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother and Aunts before them our two daughters attended Sunday school and Choir. Brenda and I celebrated our 25 wedding Anniversary in the Church Hall. After eighteen years bringing up a family we moved to Hornchurch to care for my widowed mother, but it does not end there. Brenda and I have tried to visit the church on our anniversaries. The last time we visited together was for our 51st ten years ago in 2006 when our family also joined us. In 1993 we moved to Canvey Island and with the help of our son Jeffrey we planned a visit on our 60th. Sadly this was not to be, as Brenda passed away, but I visited with my family in her memory. On March 2nd I shall be 85 years old (Brenda’s birthday was the same week 27 February) and once again looking forward to a visit with my family on February 28th in memory of Brenda. It would have been our 61st Anniversary and Brenda’s 79th birthday.
The picture below is of Alan and his family in the church as part of his 85th birthday celebrations
The inscriptions are in Latin, in old English script is a punning
one with a play on the name Heies (Hays)
And afterwards to dust, so follow they.
All flesh is grass, Death cuts, and this again
Will turn to Heie, and then as dust remain.
Let Humphrey Heie the truth of this confess,
Who gets his name of Heie, omitting S.
How well the Heie in fact, and Heie in name
Agree. Let scripture tell, there both the same.
To poor thou was as grass and food, on earth,
From Heie to grass will be thy coming birth;
For when God bids this dust to rise, thou’lt
Be not Heie but grass and flower eternally
Soon Humphrey died, the son, unlike in this
He had not of chaste wedlock known the bliss;
In all else like his father, far and near
To all around, both rich and poor, as dear;
Like him to he was Heie, in fact and name,
Till, like his father, Heie like dust became.
God grant a flower may spring of it, and may
Both live with Christ in blessedness, we pray.
|Although the brass effigy of Katherine Redinge was stolen with the others the inscription which is separate from the effigy was not and for some reason the inscription wasn’t translated to English.|
A church has occupied the site in West Thurrock since pre-conquest days.The first church close to the river would have been on the strip of gravel which the present day church stands.There was no sea wall or river bank as we know it today.
There is a connection to St Mary's church in Hastings when in 1069 Robert Count of Eu was given the Manor of West Thurrock and Hastings.In Hastings he built the church of St Mary.From then to the Reformation all the rectors of St Clement's were from the college at Hastings.
In the early twelfth century the church existed with a circular tower serving as the nave. In the early thirteenth century the building was widened with north and south aisles built on either side of the rectangular chancel and by the late thirteenth century the building had been extended with a new chancel; the existing chancel became the nave, and north and south chapels were added. The chancel's eastern wall was later demolished and moved to its present position.
By the late fifteenth century the north and south walls of the chancel were removed and replaced with arcades, and the circular nave was brought down and replaced with a large tower. In 1628 the east wall of the chancel was reconstructed. Repairs were made to the tower and south aisle in 1640 and 1711 respectively. Early in the nineteenth century the south chapel was rebuilt and shortened. In 1906, major repairs were undertaken, including a new roof on the chancels and aisles; four years later the east wall of the chancel was reconstructed. Repairs were also made in 1935 as iron ties were fitted to strengthen the walls, which had become damaged by subsidence.
In 1940 Procter & Gamble began production at a new plant neighbouring the church and would later hold the historic building's future in its hands. In 1950 the church's flat roofs had to be repaired once more after the lead lining was stolen. Three years later more roof work was completed when the building tiles were replaced. The tower and north chapel were also repaired at this time
In 1960 the church was given a Grade I listed building status. However, in 1977 regular services had to be stopped due to cold and damp conditions during the winter. Shortly afterwards the church was used for a scheme for young unemployed people, called the Ark project. The project failed after a few years and the building fell into decay and was vandalised.
New Neighbours Moving In
Procter & Gamble, whose factory now dominates the church's skyline, offered to take responsibility for the church and churchyard in 1987 when the company celebrated its 150th anniversary. Three years later, 50 years after the factory opened, the church's restoration was complete.