ABOUT ST MICHAEL’S
The church stands just above the village of Woodham Walter and is of Elizabethan red brick. It is believed to be the first purpose-built Church of England church.
The most remarkable thing about this mellow red-brick church with its characteristic crow-stepped gables and straight-headed windows is its date of 1563, five years after the accession of Elizabeth I.
Under normal circumstances the church would be open during day-light hours and is regularly visited. The provision of refreshments is much appreciated, and people from as far afield as the United States, Australia and New Zealand, have recorded their visits in recent years. Local rambling societies and individual walkers appreciate a peaceful stop-over on their walks round this typical Essex village.
The churchyard is maintained to allow a small wild area for insects and butterflies and the new churchyard extension will enable the consecrated ground to be used for a long time in the future. There is also a memorial wall and garden for the internment ashes. The view at the top of the page is of the village looking from the Memorial Wall.
The Church of St Michael’s plays an active part in village life, either directly – the annual Flower Festival in July, taking an active part in the Bell Meadow Day celebrations – or indirectly via church member contact or membership of the Parish Council, the School Governing body, the Women’s Club, the Bell Meadow Village Association and in many other areas.
Woodham Walter has a real sense of “community” and church links with the village are strong, particularly through the Parish News and the village notice boards.
The re-grading of the church path allows easy access for wheelchairs and buggies, and a superb “Kitchen in a cupboard” has been fitted under the Belfry steps. This gives hot and cold water for preparing refreshments, which are available each Sunday after the morning service.
The old south door, which had been sealed up since 1795, has been replaced by a new south porch to containing toilets including facilities for the disabled and baby changing.
The Church supports the Maldon Food Pantry and donations may be placed in the marked box at the rear of the Church.
St. Michael’s is a Joint Benefice with St Margaret’s, Woodham Mortimer, some 2 miles away and All Saints Purleigh, some 5 miles away All three churches share the same Priest. Morning services at St. Michael normally begin at 9.30a.m. and finish between 10.15a.m. and 10.30a.m, followed by refreshments.
Holy Communion is held on the first and third Sundays of each month with Morning Prayer on the second Sunday and an all-age “Family Service” on the fourth Sunday. In those months with a fifth Sunday, a joint service of the parishes is held, the venue alternating amongst the churches. The joint service normally takes place at 10.30am.
At St Michael’s there are small tables and chairs for the very young together with appropriate materials in the church. There is also a box of musical instruments for the children to use and so take an active part in worship.
The churches of St Michael and St Margaret are served by an organist who also runs a small choir for special occasions and festivals. Members of the congregation assist with organ playing when the regular organist is unavailable.
The laity assist as Welcomers, reading the lessons and leading the intercessions at Communion. There is also a ‘Home Team’ formed from the laity who take services once a month when required in rotation.
Worshippers are called to worship by a peal of three bells hanging in the tower.
Special services are held to mark Easter, Harvest, Christmas, etc.