All Saints Church , Purleigh


The church was built in the 14th century from ragstone, septaria, rubble, flint and brick

Although there was a major restoration in 1892 the chancel remains 14th century as does the stained glass in the heads of the chancel.

The incumbents of Purleigh Church go back as far as 1220 when William De London was Rector.

purleigh church interior

Famous incumbents

Laurence Washington who was Rector from 1632 to 1643  was Great Grandfather of the first president of USA. 

Another famous incumbent was Edmund Freake who officiated from 1567 to 1575 .

He then went on to become Canon of Westminster, Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth 1 and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Although his wife outlived him she was brought back to Purleigh for burial.


Major Restoration 1892-3

By the late 1800's it became apparent that Purleigh church was in need of a major restoration.

In 1886,the Rector, Rev Edwin Hatch  obtained an estimate of 1500 pounds for the repairs and the next year launched an appeal to raise the money

Many events were held to build on substantial donations from Mr W F Tufnell (400 pounds) Oriel College(200 pounds) and Mr C W Parker (amount not listed although the whole sum was not raised until work had actually started in 1892.).

During the restoration workmen uncovered an unknown tomb with aumbry cabinet which appeared to be very old possibly belonging to a founder of the church.

The work was carried out at a cost of 1,200 pounds by Mr Letch from Braintree on the plans prepared by Frederic Chancellor.

On tuesday 31st January 1893 Purleigh Church was re-opened following 10 months of restoration work during which services were held in the schoolroom.

The church was re-rooded and several crooked pillars , straightened. The buttresses and parts of the exterior have been strengthened.

New stone work was put in to the windows in the nave and all windows of the church filled with 'cathedral tinted glass'.

The organ was moved from the north aisle to the chancel.

The plaster ceiling was replaced by an open timber roof of deal and oak.

A wrought iron candelabrum c 1758 in the north aisle has been fitted with 4 lamps instead of candles.

The dedication service was led by the Bishop of St Albans assisted by Archdeacon Johnson..

Clergy present included - The Rector of Purleigh Rev R T Lowe ,  H T Maitland (Walthamstow), E R Horwood & A L Hunt (Maldon) , J Gilmore (Woodham Mortimer),                              R J Coling (Stow Maries), S F Williams (Cold Norton) , B Wright (Sandon), G Porter (Wickford), R H Falkner (Woodham Walter), G F Tamplin (Newport), E G Andrews (Mundon) and   J B Plumtree (Danbury)


Brutal murder of Police Sergeant Eves

The churchyard bears a memorial to murdered policeman Sergeant Eves click here  to read the story of his murder.


Memorials inside the Church

First Name & Surname

Date Died

Giles Brianzon 1350 memorial burton
Memorial to Elizabeth Burton in 1624
John Brianzon 1370
Elizabeth Burton 16 July 1624
Rev Edmund Freake -
Mrs Cecilia Freake 15 July 1599
Rev John Freake 4 September 1604
Mrs Margaret Freake 29 March 1592
Mrs Elizabeth Hayne 20 September 1817
Rev Roger Hayne 18 February 1810
Barrington Horsemanden 28 December 1756
Rev Deniel Horsemanden  
Mrs Lucretia Horsemanden 13 August 1800
Rev Samuel Horsemanden 17 April 1769
Mrs Susannah Horsemanden 1691 aged 64
Mrs Susanah Horsemanden 31 January 1713 aged 48
Ursula Horsemanden 17 September 1773 aged 81
Wharham Horsemanden -
Mrs Anna Shaw 29 December 1814
Rev Thomas Shaw 29 Jan 1785
Rev R F Walker 31 January 1854
Mrs Frances Walker 6 December 1824
Josephine Isabella Young 1853


Worley's - A dictionary of the County

In 1915 George Worley wrote about the Church in his Dictionary of the County

The church is a stone building comprising chancel, nave with aisles of three bays each, south porch, and west tower containing five bells.

Most of the fabric is in the decorated style, with signs of transition in the north aisle towards the perpendicular form, to which the porch (c1500) distinctly belongs.

Nearly all of the windows have fragments of the old coloured glass in their headings.

The lower part of the tower is beautifully chequered and banded with dressed black flint, and the summit is embattled.

The main fabric was thoroughly restored in 1892, and the tower more recently, the latter work being in memory of Lawrence Washington, once Rector of this parish (1633 -43) and an ancestor of the famous General George Washington.

Registers start in 1592.

Other information on the church

Click here for the story of the Washington Family.

Click here for a list of Vicars and Curates of Purleigh

Click here to read about the church bells at Purleigh

Steven Potter has written Purleigh's church explained which is a a very good guide to Purleigh church. The book is available at the church and from local bookshops.