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Description: Church of St Mary Magdalene
Date Listed: 4 July 1955
English Heritage Building ID: 112336
OS Grid Reference: TQ6748494671
OS Grid Coordinates: 567484, 194671
Latitude/Longitude: 51.6259, 0.4183
Explore more of the area around Billericay, Essex at Explore Britain.
717/8/13 HIGH STREET
04-JUL-55 (East side)
CHURCH OF ST MARY MAGDALENE
The tower is the oldest part of the church and dates to the C15. The chapel to which it was attached was entirely rebuilt c.1785 and was further extended in 1845-6 by the surveyor William Fry when the W ends of the aisles were rebuilt in brick to match the tower and the interior was refitted with N, S and W galleries. It was restored in 1950 to designs by G S Amos. In the 1950s the church was linked to the adjacent Church House to the S. It was repaired again by Laurence King in 1974-5 when it was stripped of many of its furnishings, and was renovated as a multi-use space c.2006-7.
Brick with tiled roof. Gallery on cast iron columns.
Wide nave with shallow bowed N and E apses, W tower flanked by lower N and S staircases. Galleries on N, S and W.
The C15 W tower has a moulded W door set in a square frame, with contemporary Spanish blue and white tiles in the spandrels. The W window is of 2 lights and has cusped brick tracery, with a clock on a projecting open bracket above. There are pairs of uncusped lights in each face of the upper stage below a pinnacled, crow-stepped parapet set on a band of trefoiled arches. The west ends of the N and S aisles were extended alongside the tower c.1845 to form staircases. Their parapets copy the tower, and they have C15-style windows. The upper stage of the tower is abutted to N and S by the pitched roof of the 1780's rebuilding, the slopes of which create a pedimented effect to the W end.
The C18 nave is also of brick and has Georgian style windows with arched heads at upper and lower level, except in the apses which have only one set of arched windows. There are pilaster buttresses on the corners.
The interior is a very plain preaching box. The walls are plastered and painted and have a string course forming a cornice in the apses and linking the heads of the upper windows. The galleries stand on slender cast-iron columns. The altar stands in the E apse. WC's and a kitchen were added in the early C21, by when all of the remaining liturgical fittings save the altar had been removed.
Turned altar rails in E apse. Reredos with pilasters, entablature and riddel posts in N apse as a monument to Rev. W S Smith (incumbent 1928-52).
The chapel of St Mary Magdalene was built as a chantry chapel probably in the C14, and subsequently rebuilt or extended in the C15, when the present tower was built. Sold with other chantry property at the Reformation, it came into the possession of the inhabitants of Billericay, but remained a chapel of ease dependent on Great Burstead until 1844. By the late C18, the old chapel had become too small for the growing population of the town, and it was rebuilt in a contemporary style but retained the medieval tower, following a collection made in 1784-5. It became independent in 1844, and the following year the interior was provided with additional galleries for more seating, accessed via staircases at the W ends. The orientation, having formerly faced north, was turned eastwards in line with new liturgical fashions. It was stripped of many liturgical furnishings in the 1970s, when the pulpit and choir stalls were removed and the altar moved forward. The church went out of regular liturgical use in 1992, when the new church of Emmanuel was opened; it was stripped of its pews, and provided with flexible seating and new kitchen and toilet facilities as a multi-use space.
Buildings of England: Essex (2007), 135
RCHME Essex IV (1923)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
The church of St Mary Magdalene, Billericay, Essex is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Excellent C15 brick tower with C19 side extensions on a good brick preaching-box church of the later C18.
* Internally it has galleries of 1845 to N, S and W.
* The combination of late medieval tower with tall Georgian body, a fusion of Gothic and Classical form, is usual and possesses high townscape value.
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.