653 AD, St. Cedd a monk from Lindisfarne was sent to Essex as a
missionary by Bishop Finan. Cedd landed at Bradwell - on- Sea, where he
founded a minster - a church base for clergy to teach the Christian
faith in the surrounding areas or "the parish". Over the next ten years
Cedd established four more minsters at Tilbury, Canewdon, Southminster,
The first Church in Upminster was probably made of timber and thatch, as
there was no local source of stone. It would have been very small, as the
population was sparse; the Doomsday Book records there being 31 working men and
their families. Little is known of the parish history until the reign of King
John (1199 - 1216) when the Church was rebuilt in stone.
In the early fourteenth century the church was much enlarged with the
addition of a north aisle, all that now remains of this is the three bay north
arcade. Then little is known until the seventeenth century, when the
Archdeacon’s court at Romford ordered the churchwardens to repair the church
which had fallen into decay.
1861/2 saw much rebuilding to the church; the chancel, north aisle, St. Marys
chapel and south porch being practically rebuilt, except perhaps the core of some of the
walls, and the south wall of the nave was refaced, or rebuilt.
In the twentieth century Upminster rapidly developed from a village to a suburb, the
old village church was clearly inadequate. Accordingly, extensive additions were
undertaken in 1928/9 from the designs of Sir Charles Nicholson. The then existing chancel
was removed and the present beautiful choir and sanctuary were built at the east end,
together with the choir aisle and the St. Georges chapel on the south side and the
Lady chapel at the east end of the north aisle. The sacristy and choir vestry were later
In 1976 the font was moved under the tower, from its earlier position at the
intersection of the aisles
The extensive additions to the church necessitated the re sighting and enlargement of
the organ in 1929, this work being carried out by Henry Speechly & Sons of Dalston.
This instrument was modernised and further enlarged in 1958 by the John Compton Organ Co.
In 1975 Martin K. Cross, organ builder of Grays, carried out a general overhaul with
tonal improvements. In the course of the work some pipes from an earlier organ of 1876 by
Bishop & Son were found to be still in use. The organ consists of three manuals with
29 speaking stops.
The oldest remaining memorials in the churchyard are four headstones placed against the
outer walls of the North aisle. Two are dated 1717 and the others 1710 and 1695. There are
also several good examples of eighteenth and nineteenth century table tombs.
The sources for the martyrdom of Laurence are among the earliest, though the details
are thin. Laurence was one of the seven deacons at Rome and closely associated with Pope
Sixtus II, martyred just a few days before him. His examiners insisted he produce the
Church treasures. He asked for three days, in which time he gave the church wealth to the
poor and needy, then assembling all the poor, he is reputed to have said, "These are
the treasures of the Church." The story of his being put to death on a gridiron is a
much later addition to his story. He died on August 10th in the year 258.
The Parish Church is normally open every day, and is used daily for worship - details
of services are in the porch. More information about the church building and its history
can be found in the Brief history and Guide, on sale at the back of Church priced