Ancient church in Thurrock could become family home

An historic church in Thurrock could be transformed into a family home if consent is granted to alter the Grade II Listed building.

Thurrock Council has received an application to convert St John The Baptist Church in Mucking.

A previous application to turn the 12th Century church into three homes was turned down at appeal last year.

Planning permission for one home in the church, which was decommissioned in 1982 by the Church of England, was granted in 1985. Following its sale, work commenced on the church and a cesspit tank was installed along with underground drainage.

The planning permission remains on the now crumbling church but consent must be given for the alterations.

The nave and south aisle would be converted into family accommodation with two upper floors created.

The first floors would be inset to avoid damaging the church’s stained glass windows and glass screens and internal partitions would be utilised. Plans show the chancel would remain undivided and would be suitable for use as workshop, office, studio or hobby space.

A report to the council said the church once served a community where coastal trading took place on the Thames estuary and barges could navigate to the village of Mucking. The report adds “This trade diminished in favour of larger ships needing proper port facilities the community’s need for the church reduced.”

The church, which has undergone various restorations over the centuries, was finally taken out of regular use in the late 1950s.

Such conversions have helped conserve many historic buildings and churches and the developer has pledged to use sympathetic materials and designs.

The report said: “It is important when integrating elements of change into historic buildings that the materials and the design of the new can establish a visual harmony with the old.

“In an old building even if the design was elaborated by decoration, the use of wholly natural rather than machine made materials lends a softness of character and tone, combining the effects of time, dust, multiple redecorations, wear and tear in use, sometimes settlement as well.

It adds: “In old buildings of the present ‘stripped down’ plainness of St John’s – as many now less used country churches show – that quality of simplicity of function and character is one of their primary characteristics. One into which any change, just by being new can appear harsh and out of harmony.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter