The brass letters and
numbers that would have been set in the recesses
are long gone. Could it have been thrown down
by Cromwell’s men? It is thought that St.
Mary’s could not have escaped the reformers’
attentions. More brasses of the Lathum and
Ardalle families were reset on the east wall of
the chantry chapel during the 19th
century restorations. This set of brasses
is judged amongst the top ten in the country by
the diocesan experts. The Lathums lived in
Stifford Hall in the 17th
century and were connected by marriage to the
Ardalles. The Ardalles owned the land on
which the Ardale School was built in Clockhouse
Lane .The school was one of the Stepney Homes, a
charity for homeless children from the East End
of London. A housing development now
stands on this site.
Set in the south
wall of the Chantry Chapel is a fenestella (wall
containing credence but not a piscina. As this
is possibly pre-reformation and usually situated very
close to the alter, although always on the south
side, the conjecture is that it was moved during
the 19th century restorations.
The well worn stoup (stone basin) is
immediately under the fenestella.
the Reformation in the 16th century,
Catholics would have dipped their
fingers into holy water contained in
this ancient stoup, before making the
sign of the cross.
Chapel also contains the organ which was
installed in 1875. Made by Maley, Yoiung &
Oldknow of London. It was originally blown by
The bellows handle is still operational,
and the organ was pumped with this before it was
converted to electrical power by Monk & Gunter.
Chapel has at various times also been known as
the Lady Chapel, The South Chapel, and more
recently, the Organ Chapel.
The Church Chest
which at present is to be found
in the Chantry Chapel is dated 1713 on the
hinge. It has three locks and three keys – one
held by each of the two Church Wardens and one by
the Rector. The chest can therefore only be
opened if all three are present.
It holds all
the parish records since 1920.
Set in the floor
beneath the arch leading from the Chantry Chapel
to the south aisle is an ornate black memorial
bearing a coat of arms. The College of Arms has
said that this is undoubtedly the arms of the
Grantham family. Whilst there is no record of
Granthams of Stifford or West Thurrock entitled
to bear arms, it was common for families to
assume arms granted to another family of the
same name. Nathaniel Grantham is known to have
been buried in the church. He owned Stifford
Manor in 1693 and on his death in 1708 it passed
to his son Kenrick, whose heirs sold it in
1747. The Granthams are believed to have
originated in Yorkshire.
Chantry Chapel and the south aisle is a huge
pillar. It has a corbel and head on it and the
remains of a medieval painted design (c. 1260). It is possible that this pillar
may contain a staircase which formerly led to a
clerestory which no longer exists. A similar, undamaged,
unpainted head and corbel can be found on the
pillar at the south end of the church, opposite
The font is early English,
thirteenth century of the style
known as polypod (many legs)
with a square bowl. There are
remains of old lid fastenings
in the rim and it has been much
repaired. A church font is
usually situated just inside the
main door but the position of
this one, close to
the south door, suggests that the
south door was used as the main
entrance originally. This is
probably the case because in the
Middle Ages the left (sinister)
or north side of the Church was
considered evil and could not be
Behind the font stands the
burnt out remains of the church brazier
which would once have been filled
with red hot charcoal.
Looking up, you can see the huge
Tie-beam and King-post which, as
their name suggests, hold up the
roof and tie the construction
The tower arch is late 15th century.
The west window and lights in the bell chamber
are late 13th century.
contains memorials to the Silverlocke and Lathum
families. The latter is our historic link with
the Worshipful Company of Broderers of the
Guildhall, London, which at one time, owned much
of the glebe land surrounding Stifford. In addition,
a centuries old wooden staircase made of
wedge-shaped steps and enormous hand–made nails
reach up to the bell chamber. It is
thought that St. Mary's had three bells as early
as 1552. The bells were
re cast, one in 1663, one in 1635 and one in 1737.
They were last restored in the 1950's.
Cliff's adventures in the Belfry
beautiful hassocks (kneelers) and pew runners were sewn by the
ladies of the church. They were donated by many
people for many reasons; weddings, baptisms, in memorium, confirmations, the seasons, Christmas
and Easter, in thanks to Rector, Curate and
Wardens, and to demonstrate pride and pleasure
in organisations such as Scouts, Guides, The
Mothers’ Union and the Women’s institute, to
name but a few. A Choir-mistress donated and
sewed the one with a bar of music denoting the
Amen. The donor and seamstress are noted
on the back of each.
Stained Glass Windows