St John Baptist, Mucking

Posted in Local History at 5:41 pm by henrysgauntlet

It must be just about fifty years since Mucking’s parish church, St John Baptist, Mucking Parish Church and School c1900ceased to be used for worship and was deconsecrated. The building itself dates back to the twelfth century but was rebuilt in the late-1840s and early-1850s.   It survives as a private dwelling as does the former village school, the Rectory and the former Crown Inn.   The Crown itself was the setting for bare-knuckled prize fights blamed by local people on “invaders from Horndon-on-the-Hill.”   All of these testify to Mucking’s past as a predominantly agricultural community and to its links with the Thames barges that used until 1914 to come right up to the village. the former Mucking Vicarage

I was intrigued and proud as a small boy and in my early teenage years to live in the parish of Mucking.   (No doubt the people of Messing in north east Essex feel the same now.)   I was taken by my father in the mid to late-1950s to worship in the parish church.   The last Vicar, Henry Watson, was about to retire and nothing, alas, that he said or taught remains in my mind.   I do, however, remember that the singing of hymns was almost drowned out by a former military man who sang in a loud, completely toneless fashion.   My father enjoyed these services (and the bicycle rides from Orchard House to Mucking and back home again) even if I did not. 

Sadly, these services and eight centuries of worship in the parish church were about to come to an end.   A community was dying. I was there to see its last rites.

Author  –  Christopher Thompson



  1. henrysgauntlet said,

    Very interesting to read about Mucking, which today, sadly, generally features in the press as the site of London’s waste dump.

    I, too, have links with Mucking. It was from there that my maternal grandfather ran away to sea, as a young boy. His father was a farm labourer at one of the local farms, and the family lived in one of the cottages.

    And, just to complete the link with this post, my grandfather spent his working life at sea, qualified as a master, and owned and skippered a number of Thames barges. He ran out of London and Grays, then still a working port, up the east coast, to the west country or across the channel. I’ve no doubt he will have taken his barges into Mucking.

  2. Christopher Thompson said,

    I had a look at the former church yesterday afternoon. Sadly, I found a lot of building materials just inside the gate to what is now a private property and three cars parked on what had been the footpath to the porch. It really did not look very attractive at all.

  3. Carina Anderson said,

    I am currenty working in the rectory,that is currently rented to Cory’s. I would love to know some history of this grand old house

    • Danni said,

      Hi Carina, I am searching the internet to do just that as I would love to know more too on the history of the Rectory. I used to live in The Old Rectory as a child, I miss it vrey much and would love to look again and take pictures. I lived there from approx. 1978-1987.
      When it was brought, it still had boy and girls bathrooms. The huge room to the front was two room (now divided with white pillars) It was in a bad state of repair and took years to make into a family home.

      Love to see more old maps and pictures of Mucking too!!

      • Jason warne said,

        Hey Dan
        It’s your bruv, Jason!
        Just saw this and couldnt believe it.

  4. Susan Scott said,

    Hi, nice to know that people are interested in the vicarage. My Grand-father the Rev Etienne Watts was the vicar there in the 1950s(not sure of exact dates.) He and my grandmother Alice had three children, Ron, Peter (my father) and Eileen. Unfortunately both Ron and Eileen have passed away. My dad is nearly 89 and he and my mother were married in the church by Etienne in 1958. When my dad was courting my mother he would cycle all the way to Grays where my mother lived. They both worked for the Port of London Authority. I have some pictures of the vicarage in that period of time. I was always fascinated by the vicarge and surrounding area. Always struck me that it could make a good film set! I’ve taken my own children there since and found it quite sad that it isnt quite the same anymore. If anybody would like anymore information please leave a reply and I will get intouch.

    • Danni said,

      Hi Susan Scott, I would love to see more pictures for that period. I haven’t any before we moved into the property. Would love to know more history. My e-mail is danwith3@gmail.com

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