St Leonards, Southminster
|Maldon and East Chelmsford|
Southminster is a town on the Dengie peninsula in north-eastern Essex. It lies about three miles north of Burnham-on-Crouch and ten miles south-east of Maldon. To the north is the River Blackwater, which is tidal and since Roman times has been the gateway to trading in the area. Saint Lawrence Bay, which is part of the Southminster area, can be accessed by road.
The town has one primary school, a small library, a handful of pubs, a police station, a holiday park, and a bakery.
Isolated 20 miles from Chelmsford, the nearest large town, the town would be very much in decline if it were not for Southminster railway station and employment opportunities at the nearby Bradwell nuclear power station. The station is situated on a single-line branch from Wickford, which was electrified in the 1980s, and provides a service every 45 minutes to Wickford, continuing in peak hours through to Liverpool Street station in the City of London, thus including the town in the London commuter belt.
A major horse market used to be held annually in the village.
Southminster marshes were a favourite centre for hare coursing in Victorian times.
Pandole Wood contains ancient earthworks believed to date from the Iron Age. The landscape surrounding the town, and most of the peninsula, is characterized by a pattern of strictly rectangular field boundaries and evidence of a unit of measurement that has been applied to the scheme as a whole. Middle-Saxon, or mid-Roman administrations have been suggested as its origin, although the road to the Roman sea fort at Bradwell conforms to the pattern.
St Leonard's Church
The mediæval St Leonard's Church dates mainly from the 15th century, although there are traces of much earlier work. It is a relatively large, "townish" church by Essex standards. The church also stands at an important road junction, thus contrasting with the familiar Essex pattern of a church - manor house complex on the same site. These features are consistent with John Blair's formulation of an Anglo-Saxon minster, in contrast to a private oratory in its origins, and the placename would perhaps suggest Cedd's mission at St.Peter's on the wall at Bradwell as its parent.
There have been several well-known rectors, including naturalist Rev Walter Henry Hill, and Rev Alexander John Scott who was personal chaplain to Admiral Lord Nelson. After the battle of Trafalgar, Nelson died in the arms of Rev Scott. Several artefacts that once belonged to the Reverend Scott are found in the church.
The Church also gives its name to the village's local football team, Southminster St. Leonards FC.
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