St Mary’s reopens after months of repair
The Grade I listed church of St Mary in Mundon, Essex has reopened following 8 months of repair. It is open daily to visitors. The structural works involved underpinning and piling of the medieval church, and cost just under
£345, 000. The charity which owns the redundant church, Friends of Friendless Churches, were awarded a grant of £275,551 towards the work from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which was administered by Historic England.
The church at Mundon is built on the edge of a salt marsh. It’s been sinking and swaying and cracking for decades. In 2020, we installed monitors to collect data on the structural movement. Data collected over 18 months helped us to understand how, why, and when the church moved and enabled the engineer to design the underpinning system to stop this movement and make the church safe.
The earliest parts of the church are the nave and north doorway, which date from the 14th century. A ‘skirt’ of oak and clay hides its weight-bearing posts of the medieval west belltower. This skirt was added later to steady the moving tower. In the 18th century, movement was so bad the east end, that the chancel collapsed! It was rebuilt in red brick and a rare rural Baroque trompe l’oeil was painted on the east wall.
The charity, Friends of Friendless Churches rescued St Mary’s from the throes of dereliction in 1975. This church has suffered from considerable structural movement throughout its history. And the reality is that, without significant grant aid, we would have struggled to fund this extensive – and expensive – repair.
In addition to underpinning, we also:
• Laid a new effective drainage system including rainwater goods;
• Undertook localised repointing, filled cracks, grouted plasterwork and re-rendered;
• Conserved the wall-paintings.
The church will hold an Evensong at 5pm on Sunday 11 September. All are welcome.
Local Keyholder: Christine McDonald Tel: 07504 751667
About the project team
We are hugely grateful to the team that undertook these complex works:
- Architect: John Miminas of Roger Mears Architects
- Contractor: Bakers of Danbury
- Engineer: Claudio Corallo of Clancy Consulting Engineers
- Archaeologist: David Andrews
- Conservators: Perry Lithgow Partnership
- Ecologist: Tim Moya Associates
About Friends of Friendless Churches
The Friends of Friendless Churches (FoFC) was set up in 1957 to save disused but beautiful old places of worship of architectural and historical interest from demolition, decay, and unsympathetic conversion. Working across England and Wales, this independent, non-denominational charity cares for 60 redundant places of worship and takes more into its care each year. Without FoFC, these buildings would no longer be here, or open to the public.
For further information and images, contact Rachel Morley. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: friendsoffriendlesschurches.org.uk Twitter: @friendschurches Facebook: @friendsoffriendlesschurches
Mundon church is classified by the Church Commission as a redundant church and here have been no regular services since the 1950s. However, the church is still consecrated and in terms of spiritual space it is far from redundant and has a specialness held dear to the hearts of those who are captivated by its charm. Its care is the responsibility of The Friends of Friendless Churches.
Hon. Sec Matthew Saunders MBE pays tribute to those who keep the church welcoming to visitors: Members of Blackwater Flower Arranging Club for the floral arrangements, Mr Paton for keeping the grounds mown and strimmed, Tony Scarborough for keeping the windows clean, the Rowsell family for providing and maintaining the car-park and many other Mundon people including Christine McDonald for generally keeping an eye on the church and being the Mundon link with the Friends of Friendless Churches.
To find out more about Mundon 'St Mary's' Church please click the link below;
For general non-urgent enquires about the church you can contact our local historian Christine McDonald preferably by email: email@example.com or text/call 07504 751667 at sensible times.
If you would like to join the group which helps maintain the church and its grounds then Christine McDonald (as above) would love to hear from you.
Records maintained by Christine include:
Church and village history
Chronology of last Millennium