Parish Profile for the

Parishes of St Margaret, Woodham Mortimer with Hazeleigh and

St Michael the Archangel, Woodham Walter


St Margaret’s has the following Parish Church prayer:


Loving Lord God, enable this church to do your will

Make us vulnerable that we may speak with calm humility

Make us outward looking, that we may care deeply

Make us a community of peacemakers and bridge builders

In the midst of turbulence let the church make space

For the hearing of your still small voice



1. Summary of the Churches and District:

The benefice comprises the rural villages of Woodham Mortimer with Hazeleigh and Woodham Walter, near Maldon in Essex. 

Both St Margaret’s and St Michael’s churches follow varied “middle of the road” traditions, and are working towards being part of the Diocesan Vision “Transforming Presence”.  The congregation of St Margaret’s is on average 25 and St Michael’s has an average congregation of 24.

We are looking for a priest to work on a House for Duty basis which we have found works well.  We would like the new priest to have a visible presence within the parishes, particularly in association with the Church School in Woodham Walter.

2. Gifts/Skills/Experience:

  • Ideally the new priest will have the skills to merge the traditional values of the church with modern approaches, while taking into account the age profile of our congregation. 
  • The new priest should have the ability to lead and teach our current members, and work to attract new and younger members of the non church-going community into our congregation.
  • The new priest should be comfortable being a visible presence within our parishes, not only in terms of marriage, baptism and funeral arrangements, but also being part of community events.
  • We would want the new priest to encourage, teach and guide our lay members within services and other church-related activities.
  • We trust that the new priest would actively encourage, by example, closer links with the Deanery and the future re-structuring within it.

3. Strengths and weaknesses: 

After consultation with our congregations, we established each parish’s strengths and weaknesses, which are detailed under the Appendix.

4. Our joint future priorities:

We have developed these priorities in conjunction with our PCCs, the congregations and the wider communities, and they were based on our analysis of our strengths and weaknesses, which are identified in the Appendix.

  • A key priority is to help our churches grow in the villages of Woodham Mortimer with Hazeleigh and Woodham Walter, and that we fulfil our commitment to all age groups living in our parishes, although we do understand the time constraints under which the new priest will work.
  • We would wish to strengthen the bonds with and learn from other churches, and form links with other organisations within our communities.
  • St Michael’s has a visible presence within the church primary school, but it is a priority to encourage greater participation from the school into the church.
  • Another priority is for us to have increased church involvement in the pre-schools in each parish, as they are the seed corn of the future church.
  • Both parishes need greater leadership with their Sunday school activities, St Margaret’s in terms of growing it, and St Michael’s in terms of establishing one.

5. Wider Context:

 From the Rev’d Sandra Manley, Rural Dean:

“In common with most dioceses, the Diocese of Chelmsford is undergoing considerable reorganisation and rationalisation of ministry, both ordained and lay. This arises partly because of the predicted national shortage of clergy in the next decade.

Under the Re-imagining Ministry section of the Diocesan ‘Transforming Presence’ strategy, the Deanery of Maldon and Dengie will have two areas, provisionally termed Mission and Ministry Units (MMUs).  The Western MMU of the Deanery is expected to have up to four stipendiary priests, based mainly in the Maldon area but with at least one based in the rural parishes.  Parishes in this MMU will have a variety of ministry including House-for-Duty, SSM, Readers, and Lay focal ministers, but it is planned that the smaller parishes will have an appropriate level of support from one of the stipendiary priests. These plans continue to be discussed and are of course subject to any future moves of clergy currently in post.”

The parishes are willing to undertake measured change in regard to the new Deanery Plan when it is published.  We are already exploring closer ties between our two churches, and with All Saints’ Church, Maldon. 

6. What goes on in our churches:



Sunday                        St Margaret’s                          St Michael’s

First                11.15am Family Service           9.30am Holy Communion

Second           11.15am Holy Communion        9.30am Morning Prayer

Third               11.15am Morning Prayer          9.30am Holy Communion

Fourth             11.15am Holy Communion        9.30am Family Service

Fifth                10.30am Joint Parishes Holy Communion, alternating venue

The two Churches share a Parish News magazine which contains useful contact names and telephone numbers for the villages, as well as a duty rota for sidespersons, readers, flower arrangers and daily church opening, and a full diary of village events.

St Margaret’s:

Very occasionally we have a BCP 1662 Holy Communion, when requested.  Services are Common Worship and we use Hymns Old and New.  We hold a Remembrance Service on Remembrance Sunday and place wreaths on the War Memorial situated outside the church.  In most recent years we have held a Rogation Service in the Church followed by a shared meal or barbeque at the home of PCC members. Weather permitting some parishioners take a walk in nearby woodland. Ash Wednesday and All Souls are commemorated with services. There is an annual Service held in Hazeleigh Churchyard followed by light refreshments which is always well attended.

In recent years we have also held a Maundy Thursday Service which has included a supper in the Rectory; a Good Friday meditation, traditional Harvest Festival, Pre-school Harvest Service and a Memorial Service for people who have died in the previous year. At Christmas our services have included a Toy Service, Nine Lessons and Carols, Christingle for the Pre-school, Pre-school Nativity Service and Midnight Mass.  The Pre-school services have been very popular and well attended.

In 2014 we held a Rededication Service followed by a reception in the Rectory garden.  In 2015 an outstanding success was our Concert held at Woodham Mortimer Hall, bringing together our communities and congregations, and was well supported by many local businesses.

In 2014 a Confirmation Service was conducted by Bishop John.  In 2015 there was one Baptism, one Renewal of marriage vows and 3 Memorial services.

Our Electoral Roll at present stands at 28. Of these 19 are resident in the parish with 9 non-resident.

St Michael’s:

The Church of St Michael plays an active part in village life, either through the annual Flower Festival in July, at Bell Meadow Day, and as a venue for Art Lectures, Concerts or Talks; also via church member contact with other village groups.  The PCC organise social evenings on a regular basis.

The Laity have organised a Study Group during Lent attended by about one third of our congregation. Members of the congregation have attended study courses on Pastoral Care. 

In September 2013 we celebrated our 450th Anniversary, which included a concert on the Saturday and a professionally catered meal for ourselves and our visitors following the Celebration Service on the Sunday. 

Pastoral care is carried out by a small team, which includes Home Communion which is taken to a disabled person. 

In the past year we have had 3 Baptisms of children and 3 of adults, 4 Marriages, 1 Funeral and 3 Burials of Ashes.  Our nearest Crematorium is in Chelmsford. 

The Church Electoral Roll currently stands at 44, 15 of whom are non-resident. 

The two Churches are served by an organist who also runs a small choir for special occasions and Festivals. 

We support various charities including Wateraid, Children's Society, Royal British Legion, Farleigh Hospice and Maldon Food Bank. 


7. A description of our Parishes:

These picturesque villages are situated in the countryside between Danbury and Maldon.  There are good transport links to the City of Chelmsford, to London and also to the coast.  There are many theatres in the area, and frequent local concerts ranging from Classical through to folk and rock. Family activities include roller skating, ten-pin bowling and ice skating.  Other leisure activities include golf, sailing, fishing, countryside walks and shooting.  Thames Barge and canal-boat trips form a large part of summer outings.

The area is blessed with many historical sites, such as the Battle of Maldon marked by a statue of Brithnoth at the Promenade Park, Beeleigh Abbey and the unique Plume Library. The first recorded town of Colchester is nearby with many museums and art galleries, and an outstanding zoo.

The Parish of Woodham Mortimer

Historically Woodham Mortimer Village has gradually moved away from the church and grown around what is now called Post Office Road which is about ½ a mile on the Chelmsford road. The Post Office and shop closed some years ago after around 140 years. 

The population of Woodham Mortimer with Hazeleigh is 641. The villages are mostly made up of active people either retired or working away from the village. There are a few families with young children who go to school by car or school bus to the neighbouring village of Danbury or to the nearest town of Maldon. The Comprehensive schools are in Maldon, Sandon and Chelmsford.  There are two Grammar Schools in Chelmsford.

The Village Hall is situated in Post Office Road and is the centre of various activities, including arts and crafts session, physical exercise classes, Parish Council meetings, Village Hall meetings, and various fund-raising activities.  We have held various Classic Vehicle days which have been very successful and raised money for the Church and Village Hall.  We recently held a mini Olympics which was organised by St Margaret’s and held in the field attached to the Village Hall. The hall is also available for parties and receptions.

There is a local Pre-school and close links with St Margaret’s have been maintainedby the means of monthly bible storytelling and prayer with the children and by inviting the Pre-school to various services within St Margaret’s, their artwork is also displayed within the church. 

There is a half-hourly bus service to both Maldon and Chelmsford with a bus stop outside the Rectory and a small Village Link bus which serves the villages. This runs hourly between 9am to 5.30pm and takes passengers to Tesco or Morrison’s.  The mobile library service calls in Hazeleigh and Woodham Mortimer twice monthly.

Woodham Mortimer has two Pubs, The Hurdlemakers Arms situated in Post Office Road, and The Royal Oak in Hazeleigh, and a very popular Indian restaurant, Zara, situated on the Chelmsford Road. There is one Garden Centre.  There is also a Golf Driving Range and Cricket pitch used regularly by a local team. 

The Parish of Hazeleigh

The village of Hazeleigh is smaller than Woodham Mortimer but stretches to within 1 mile of Maldon. Lower Hazeleigh comprises The Hazeleigh Oak, the only public house, with around 10 properties and is situated on the lower part of Fambridge Road.

Upper Hazeleigh is comprised of a variety of houses from quaint to large period properties.

The churchyard at Upper Hazeleigh is well kept and available for burials. The original church was a “Tin Tabernacle” which was demolished in 1959 after becoming derelict. The cross, bell, candlesticks and Bishop’s Chair are secure and used in St Margaret’s Church.

The early Elizabethan Hazeleigh church was built in the farmyard of Hazeleigh Hall, and all that remains today is the graveyard which was used for burials up to 1922 when the church was demolished.

The Parish of Woodham Walter

The Church website can be found at

The Parish is situated near the East coast of Essex, just south of the Chelmer and Blackwater Canal. It is a rural Parish of some 200 houses, with a population of about 400.  The majority of people live in and around the village.  In recent years it has been discovered that it is highly likely that St Michael’s is the first purpose-built Church of England Church, being constructed in 1563, shortly after the Elizabethan Settlement.  This research, commenced in 2007, was ratified by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Librarian who wrote: “This church is believed to be the first consecrated after the Elizabethan Settlement, and as such has a claim towards being the oldest purpose-built Church of England place of worship.”

A large number of the population of Woodham Walter commute to Chelmsford or London, although some farming continues. The leisure industries of golf, holiday lodges and boating form other means of local employment.

Woodham Walter has a real sense of community and Church communications with the village are strong, particularly through the Parish News and the village notice boards, and church members’ involvement with parish organisations.

The village owns Bell Meadow, which lies opposite the Church, as a public space for use by the community.  The village has three public houses, The Bell and the Queen Victoria in the village centre, and The Cats on the edge of the village.  There is a village hall with good facilities.  There are a number of village organisations, a Parish Council, a PTA, a Village Hall Committee, a Bell Meadow Association, a unique Women’s Club and a thriving Friends of St Michael’s. 

Housing in the village varies from Almshouses, Housing Association houses and private housing.  There are no large estates.  There are a few larger houses standing in their own grounds, mostly outside the village centre. 

The Robert Henry Falkner Almshouses

The two small Almshouses, in the centre of the village, were set up as a Charitable Trust in 1908. They are specifically for the 'poor or those in ill-health who are
unable to keep themselves by their own exertions'. The Churchwardens are the Trustees. The Almshouses serve a very useful purpose and are a great credit to the community.

The Henry Walter Thomson Charity

The new incumbent of Woodham Walter Church is one of the Trustees of the charity, whose aim is to distribute funds at the Trustees’ discretion providing educational literature as the Trustees may determine. 

Woodham Walter Church of England (VC) Primary School

Our Church School has 100 pupils on the roll; spread over four classes.  Most pupils are brought in by parents from other villages, anxious to provide a small school environment for their child’s education. It was rated “Outstanding” in its last OFSTED review. Pre-school children are served by Tadpoles Nursery next to the school. The incumbent is expected to be a School Governor, alongside PCC and Diocesan Governors. 

We are welcomed into the school, but it is the incumbent’s face-to-face contact with staff, parents and children which is so important.  The expectation of parents is that this should be by an ordained priest.  If we get this right, not only will the children be attracted to the church, but the younger parents will also come along.  When this happens, we must provide a welcoming and meaningful service for them.  Laity have continued these connections since the Interregnum began, leading assemblies and reading with the smaller children.  The school website can be found at:

Secondary age children attend schools in Maldon, Sandon, Ingatestone or Chelmsford. There are excellent Grammar schools in Chelmsford, Westcliff-on-Sea and Colchester.


8. An overview of the Church buildings:

St Margaret’s Church building

The Church of St Margaret’s Woodham Mortimer with Hazeleigh is situated on the A414 between Maldon and Danbury.  The County town of Essex, Chelmsford, is about 7 miles to the west and the historic town of Maldon is 2 miles to the east situated on the River Blackwater.

It is a typical small Essex Church, parts of which date from 1080; the only original section remaining is the south wall. Visitors enter by the Norman Arch and doorway high enough for a knight on horseback to pass through.  To the left of the door is a Norman window which was re-opened when the church was restored by J. Oxley Parker of Woodham Mortimer Place in the late 19th century. The window depicts St Margaret of Antioch, Virgin and Martyr, her emblem is a dragon. The window also celebrates the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign 1837-1887.

The church is able to seat 150 worshippers and the fabric is in very good condition, both inside and out. There is a facility in the vestry for making refreshments, washing up and storage of crockery.  An outside ramp for disabled access with a small inner ramp was finished in 2005.  In April 2015 the church spire was renewed. The churchyard is kept in good order and has a cremated remains area surrounded by oak railings and a small box hedge. A memorial book is kept in the Church to record the burial of ashes. The churchyard at Woodham Mortimer is closed for burials.  Burials still take place in Hazeleigh Churchyard.

St Michael’s Church building

The church stands just above the village and is of Elizabethan red brick.  It is open during daylight hours all year round, and refreshments are available on a hospitality tray. In the last two years £83,000 has been raised by donations to provide good disabled access and kitchen and toilet facilities.

We still conduct burials if required, and there is a cremated remains area comprising a memorial wall in a garden of remembrance.

The Friends of St Margaret’s

The Friends of St Margaret’s are a small group of dedicated people who raise money to help maintain the fabric of the church, inside and out. The church could not manage financially without them.  Activities last year included Coffee mornings, Parish Walk followed by a barbeque, teas served around the “Tombstones” and concerts held in the church. All these activities were well supported and raised a good amount of money.

The Friends of St Michael’s

We are well supported by the Friends of St Michael’s, and other generous donors, who by their efforts have helped us to raise sufficient funds to enable the installation of disabled access, a kitchen and toilet facilities.

Neither organisation is a registered charity in its own right.

9. Finances

St Margaret’s:

The Church finances are well managed and are in good order. We do our very best to pay our Family Purse and have been successful in paying this in full over the last few years it will be a huge challenge this year but we do our utmost  All decisions on how to spend our money is taken by our PCC. We always look for new ways to raise money.

St Michael’s:

We have been fortunate in the last few years to raise enough money to pay our Family Purse in full, as well as our running costs. It is our policy to keep abreast of all the requirements raised by the Quinquennial Report and government legislation.

10. The Rectory

The Rectory stands next to St Margaret’s Church and is in very good condition.  Downstairs there is a sitting room with a new fireplace and parquet floor, dining room, office, toilet and large kitchen with fairly new fitted units.  There is also a conservatory leading off the sitting room. Upstairs there are four large bedrooms, a bathroom and separate toilet.  The heating is oil-fired central heating which has fairly recently been upgraded.  The garden is large and well-maintained.  It is safe and secure for children and pets.  There is ample parking space which is shared by the congregation when services are being held and there is also a good detached garage.

It has been the choice of some incumbents to use the Rectory for courses and social events, but these activities could also take place within the Village Hall.



Overview of our Strengths and Weaknesses

St Margaret’s


St. Margaret’s has many strengths such as:

·    Our sense of community. We look after each other and always come together to serve the Church and one another practically and emotionally.

·      We are friendly and welcoming to all and we do our very best to live according to our mission statement.

·      Strong links with the local Pre-School have been formed and we hold special services for them such as Easter Bonnet, Harvest Festival, Christingle and a Crib Service on Christmas Eve which is open to all.

·      We have for many years held Bible sharing groups in differing forms and this continues to date.

·     Throughout the year we hold a variety of special services such as Stations of the Cross and Hazeleigh Praise.

·      We have a monthly Sunday school which we call Kidzone.

·      Our Church is always decorated with beautiful flowers and well looked after by our members.


·      Our weaknesses mostly derive from our need for more members to share our worship and duties.

·      The location of St. Margaret’s is not ideal as it is not centred in Woodham Mortimer but some little distance away on the main road and as a result we have to work harder at attracting the community to attend our services.

·      We are not very organised in our pastoral care.

·      With the agreement of our PCC we need to look at other places of worship and possibly adopt ideas to attract new members.

·      We do not have a website at present.

St Michael’s


  • One of our strengths is an extremely loving and united congregation, members of which are always ready to assist each other in terms of all aspects of church duties. Everyone is willing to encourage each other through times of difficulty.
  • We are friendly and welcoming to newcomers, and work as a team.
  • We have excellent links with both the Church primary school and Tadpoles pre-school, and members of the PCC frequently take assemblies, and attend the schools on other occasions.  We welcome the children into church several times a year to hold their school church assemblies.  They also take an active part in some of our Sunday services, for example reading at the Carol Service, attending Christingle services at Christmas. All school leavers from Year 6 receive a bible chosen by them as a gift from the congregation of St Michael’s.
  • Tadpoles pre-school have also begun to join in certain of the school assemblies held in church. 
  • We regularly organise various social events, ranging from shared meals and musical events to lectures and talks, and would hope the new incumbent would take an active part in these.
  • We use this unique building, with its modern facilities, to welcome groups, such as U3A and Historical study groups.


  • We have not been successful in encouraging many younger people to join our congregation.
  • We do not have the appropriate skills to instigate and develop a Sunday school and a Youth Club.
  • Our pastoral care activities, which have been inadequate in the past, need to be lead and invigorated by the new incumbent.
  • Unfortunately we have not always had engaging sermons appropriate to the type of service we were holding, for example, Family Services.


















2016 Parish Profile 18th January 2016