WELC0ME T0 ST. FRANCISí, SILVER END

Written by Jane Gelder

This church was originally a barn, built between 1690 and 1750, belonging to Grooms Farm, which was bought by F.H.Crittall as part of the site for his new village in the 1920s. The beams were discovered to be Scandinavian timber on inspection in 1982.

The thatching is long wheat-straw, and was last re-thatched in 1988 (at a cost of c. £l0,000).

Francis Henry Crittall took an enthusiastic interest in the conversion of the barn, which was carried out in the winter of 1929-30. Working closely with architect Mr G.C. Holmes he supplied the windows, doors, lych gate and stained glass (1929).

The "east" window, depicting the patron saint - St Francis of Assisi - was designed and executed by Leonard Walker

Mr. Holmes designed the pulpit and Mr Smith designed the reading desk.

The font, designed by Walter F. Crittall, was hewn from part of an oak tree believed to have been planted near Silver End by King Stephen in the 12th century - the same century in which St. Francis of Assisi was born.

The carved riddle posts ( now resting on the east wall) originally supported screens around the altar. The bell was donated by May and Butcher Ltd. Of Heybridge in June 1929. It was taken from an old warship.

The silver chalice and paten were a gift in 1929 from A.W. Ruggles-Brise in memory of his wife, Mabel. The brass font ewer was provided by the same donor in memory of his son. Cecil.

The organ was moved from London.

Originally the main entrance was in the centre of the church front, but was moved to its current position and in 1968 Crittalls made the large aluminium cross which hangs where the doorway was. In 1982 the vestry and toilets were added, and the church was re-decorated. From 1930 to 1982 the ceiling had been a deep midnight blue with gold stars; the beams were red with gold details. The ceiling was painted pale blue in 1982, although some of the gold pattern was copied.

Of the pictures now in St. Francis, the panel on the right-hand side was originally behind the altar. The tapestries now behind altar were designed to represent Silver Endís surroundings, and to reflect St. Francis of Assisiís appreciation of Godís creation. They were worked by Mrs. J. Broad, Mrs. J. Hawkes and Mrs. A. Robson in 1982/3.

The tapestry of the Last Supper was sewn by Mrs. A. Robson.