Here we are again, sweeping for the Bishop of Chelmsford on a Sunday in August, the only day of the week that we have time to do these jobs. On this occasion we were doing the Rectory at Great Oakley, which just outside of Harwich. The parish church at Great Oakley is dedicated to all Saints and dates back to the Norman period.
The church stands to the west of the village in the grounds of a local estate. The walls are of flint and septariarubble, with dressings of limestone; the roofs are tiled. The Nave is of the 12th century but has been lengthened at some uncertain period. Early in the 14th century the Chancel was rebuilt and probably late in the 15th century a W. tower was added. The West Tower was rebuilt in the 18th century and the church has been restored in modern times when the walls generally were refaced; the South Porch is an 18th-century addition.
The two originally had a peel of five bells, but the original tower began to become unsafe in the 18th century, due to the weight of the bells and the disintegrating fabric which had suffered from the effects of the sea air. The tower was partially demolished and replaced with a wooden bellcote. The work was paid for by selling four of the bells, retaining one bell which was placed in the repaired tower and accounting for the tower’s unusual appearance today. There are some nice features in the church including a Norman age font and an elaborately carved doorway that had been defaced by Cromwell’s troops who were billeted in the church during the Civil War. There is a war grave in the churchyard to a sailor C. W. Offord who died during the 1st World War.