East Tilbury

Pages 38-41

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 4, South east. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.

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In this section

26. EAST TILBURY. (C.e.)

(O.S. 6 in. (a)lxxxiv. S.W. (b)lxxxiv. S.E. (c)lxxxix. N.W.)

East Tilbury is a river-side parish 3 m. E. of Tilbury town and docks. The church and the Romano-British huts are the principal monuments.


c(1). Adjoining the western boundary of the parish, on the foreshore of the Thames, below the present high-tide level, are fragmentary remains (Plate, p. xxxvi) of a small settlement of circular huts associated with very numerous potsherds of the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. In 1920 the remains visible in the mud at low-tide represented three adjacent huts, and fragments of a fourth were detected about 20 yards further W. The interior diameter of the smallest was about 11½ ft., that of the largest about 20 ft. The two largest circles consisted of three rings of pointed stakes, each 1½–2in. in diameter, mostly in their original round state but sometimes roughly squared. They were employed either singly or in pairs, and formed the framework for interlacing wattlework which still remains in excellent preservation below the mud. The two innermost rings of stakes are about 8 in. apart, and between them are remains of a ring of stones (Kentish rag with some chalk), whilst a similar ring of stones appears to have surrounded the outermost ring of stakes. One hut (III on plan) retains traces of a partition. Another (II) has in the middle a small circular platform, 1½ ft. in diameter, of rubble; this shows no signs of burning and was therefore not a hearth, but probably supported a stout central roof-pole. In the same hut is a piece of original woodflooring, about 5 ft. by 2ft., made up of 1 in. by 5 in. planking; and close to this are the foundations of an oval or omega-shaped oven, with hard clay walls 6 in. thick and an opening on the N. side. The ground in and around the opening is burnt black and hard to a considerable depth, but no indication remains of the original use of the oven. In the smallest circle (I) the entrance appears to be marked by two thick posts, each 2½ in. in diameter, set 2 ft. 10 in. apart. In and around the huts were fragments of the clay daub with which the timber walls had been covered. The rings of stone cannot have been carried up to any considerable height. Numerous fragments of roofing tile may indicate the nature of the roofing.

East Tilbury. Romano-British Hut Circles

Immediately E. of the huts is a shallow channel, running N.E. and S.W., with some traces of flanking stakes. This may represent a former trackway leading from the old river-edge.

The foreshore for about 100 yards on each side of the huts is covered with potsherds, including the following 1st and 2nd-century Samian forms: 15/17, 18, 18/31, 27, 30, 31, 37, 38, 54 (plain), 78, and 79. Mr. F. Lambert, F.S.A., has noted the following potter's stamps: DAGOM[ARVS] (on form 18/31), OF VIRIL (on form 18), AVITI-MA (on form 33), ANISATV[S] (on form 33), [CINT]VSMIM (on form 31), and INDERCILLIOF (on form 33). Most of the pottery, however, is of native type, with marked Late Celtic elements such as cordons, bosses and incised linear patterns, and represents the production of native manufacturers working under Roman influence.

No 'wasters' have yet been noticed from this site, and there is no evidence that any of the pottery was made on the spot. The site may have been a landing-place for traffic from Kent or elsewhere; the amount of pottery certainly seems excessive for the ordinary requirements of a small hut-settlement.

(Slight mention of the site in Arch. Journ., XLII (1885), pp. 276–7.)

East Tilbury, the Parish Church of St Margaret


b(2). Parish Church of St. Margaret, now St. Katherine, stands at the S. end of the village. The walls are of flint and ragstone-rubble with some Roman and later bricks; the dressings are mostly of Reigate stone; the roofs are tiled. The Nave was built early in the 12th century and late in the same century the N. arcade was built and the North Aisle added. The Chancel was re-built and probably enlarged in the first half of the 13th century. In the 14th century the S. arcade was built and a S. aisle and tower added; the chancel-arch was also re-built and widened. The S. aisle and tower are said to have been destroyed by the Dutch fleet in 1667 and the S. arcade was then blocked. A N. porch was built in 1704. The church has been restored in modern times when the North Porch was re-built. A new West Tower has been begun but not completed.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (35½ ft. by 19¼ ft.) has in the E. wall three early 13th-century graduated lancet-windows (Plate, p. 41) with moulded internal labels and intermediate mask-stops. In the N. wall are two windows, the eastern is similar to those in the E. wall; the western window is of early 14th-century date probably re-set and is of two cinque-foiled lights in a two-centred head; the W. half of the wall externally is faced with knapped flints, probably 16th-century work. In the S. wall (Plate, p. 84) are four windows, the easternmost is of early 16th-century date and of two four-centred lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label; it is set in a taller two-centred opening probably of the 14th century and is now blocked with 17th-century brick; the second window is similar to the eastern window in the N. wall and had an external label; the third window is a late 13th-century lancet without a label; the westernmost window is a 13th-century lancet partly blocked and with a 15th-century cinque-foiled light inserted; the window is carried down below a transom as a 'low-side' and rebated for a shutter. Below and to the E. of the third window is a late 13th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred arch; W. of the same window is a blocked doorway with a roughly two-centred head, probably of early 13th-century date. Below the windows of the chancel runs a moulded string-course, of which the western half has been cut away. The distorted 14th-century chancel-arch is two-centred and of two moulded orders, the outer dying on the chamfered N. respond and the S. side wall and the inner springing from attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases.

The Nave (56½ ft. by 21¼ ft.) has a late 12th-century N. arcade (Plate, p. 41) of four bays with two-centred arches of one plain order; the middle column is octagonal and the others round; the two eastern have carved and scalloped capitals with square abaci; the third capital is similar but uncarved and perhaps unfinished; all have moulded bases; the semi-octagonal responds have grooved and chamfered abaci and the eastern has volutes at the angles of the capital; above the W. half of the first arch are the remains of an early 12th-century window, now blocked. The quoins of the original N.E. angle of the nave remain in situ. In the S. wall are remains of the two eastern arches of the early 14th-century S. arcade with two-centred arches; part of the E. respond shows externally and has a moulded capital and base; re-set in the blocking of the arcade are two 14th-century windows, the eastern of three trefoiled ogee lights with tracery in a four-centred head and the western of two similar lights with tracery in an elliptical head; in the W. bay is the 14th-century tower-arch, two-centred and of three chamfered orders, the two outer continuous and the inner springing from attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the archway is partly blocked. In the W. wall is a 13th-century lancet window and below it a large W. doorway, probably of the same date with shafted and moulded jambs and abaci and moulded two-centred arch, much defaced.

The North Aisle (7¾ ft. wide) has in the E. wall a 15th-century window of one cinque-foiled light. This wall is faced with knapped flints like the N. wall of the chancel. In the N. wall are three windows, the easternmost is of three trefoiled ogee lights in a square head, all of wood and probably of early 16th-century date partly restored; the second window is a small late 12th-century light with a later lancet-head; the westernmost window is modern; the 14th-century N. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred arch with defaced label and head-stops; the N. wall has been largely refaced in the 17th century. In the W. wall is a 16th-century window of one four-centred light with some re-used 12th-century stones in the splays.

The North Porch is modern but incorporates old material. Adjoining the W. wall of the nave externally is a timber bell-cote, all modern except the 17th-century vertical posts.

The Roof of the chancel is modern except for three tie-beams which are probably of the 17th century.

Fittings—Bell: one, by William Oldfield, 1629. Brass Indents: In chancel—(1) of small figure, probably of priest, and inscription-plate. In tower —(2) of inscription-plate. Coffins and Coffin-lids: In tower—part of shaped head of a coffin and part of the lower end of another, also two lids with moulded edges and raised crosses, 13th-century. Doors: Loose in N. aisle—of two folds with strap-hinges, 17th-century. In N. doorway—of feathered battens, probably 16th or 17th-century. Font: octagonal bowl, with moulded under-edge, plain stem and moulded base, early 16th-century. Monument and Floor-slab. Monument: In church-yard—S. of chancel, to Abigail, wife of Thomas Bland, 1713, head-stone. Floor-slab: In chancel— to John Rawlinson, 1698. Piscina: In chancel— with trefoiled head with projecting sex-foiled drain, foliated on the underside, shallow shelf and grooves for later shelf, late 13th-century. Pulpit (Plate, p. 4): hexagonal, each face with enriched arcaded panel with arabesque spandrels, fluted and enriched pilasters at angles and dentilled cornice, early 17th-century. Royal Arms: Above chancel-arch—remains of painted 16th-century Royal Arms in garter with supporters. Miscellanea: Re-used in walls and filling of arcade, various worked and moulded stones, 14th and 15th-century. In tower, re-set, two dished angle-stones with drains, mediaeval.

Condition—Good, some of the external stonework much decayed.


Monuments (3–6).

The following monuments, unless otherwise described are of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered or weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. Some of the buildings have original chimney-stacks.

Condition—Good or fairly good.

a(3). Black Cottage, on E. side of road, 550 yards N.W. of the church, was built in the 17th century and is of central-chimney type. The walls have been partly re-built in brick. The chimney-stack has four shafts built on a cruciform plan.

a(4). East Tilbury Place, house, about ¾ m. N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics. It was built probably early in the 18th century but has been much altered. Inside the building is an original staircase with moulded string, turned balusters and square newels surmounted by ballfinials.

a(5). Gravelpit Farm, house and outbuildings, 1 m. W.N.W. of the church. The House was built early in the 17th century; later alterations include the rebuilding of parts of the walls in brick.

The Barn is of late 17th-century date and of weather-boarded timber-framing open at the ends and carried at the sides on brick walls.

a(6). Smithy, cottage, at the junction of the road to the church and the Muckingford Road, 1¾ m. N.N.W. of the church, is a rectangular building of late 17th or early 18th-century date.


b(7). Earthwork locally known as "Soldiers' Graves." Running W. of the church and traceable for a distance of ½ m. or more, is an abrupt partly artificial scarp with a ditch and external rampart at the foot. It faces S. and overlooks the river. It was probably not a defensive work.