OS grid reference
If travelling by car, please open the gate marked ‘Parking only for church patrons’ and proceed to park in the space in front of the church.
It could almost pass as a spaceship. And in fact, Mundon’s apocalyptic landscape peppered with petrified oaks inspired the Martian landing scene in H.G. Wells’s, The War of the Worlds.
Here, it feels like time has ended…
But St Mary’s is just an hour from central London.
This isolated area is best known for the Battle of Maldon of AD 991. Beyond that this has always been a sleepy, out of the way place, the church of St Mary reflecting this in its unpretentious architecture. Hall and church once stood within a moated enclosure.
The earliest parts of the church are the nave and north doorway, which date from the 14th century. The unusual weather-boarded west tower was built of timber in the Tudor period. A ‘skirt’ of oak and clay hides its weight-bearing posts. The north porch was added in 1600.
In the 18th century the chancel was rebuilt in red brick and a rare rural baroque trompe l’oeil was painted on the East wall. In the early 19th century box pews were installed in the nave. The church has hardly been touched since the Georgian period.
In 1943 a stray V2 rocket damaged the church, and by the 1970s it was derelict and a target for vandals.
We acquired St Mary’s in 1975. With its unstable soil, it’s a church that needs a lot of care. Using the latest monitoring technology to help us understand how, why and when the church is moving, we were able to work with engineers to design an underpinning system to stop the movement and make the church safe. In 2022 we completed a major project of critical repair works, including the underpinning, new drainage system, conservation of wall paintings and more.