Hempstead, Eccles and Lessingham Parish
St. Andrew's Church, Hempstead
The Parish of Hempstead with Eccles and Lessingham has approx population of 500 with the largest majority of people living in Eccles.
The name Eccles is a Celtic name which indicates that the village has been here for centuries. It now consists of a few houses, bungalows and a caravan park as most of the old village was lost to the sea. Every year a special service is held on the lovely sandy beach where the ruins of the old church can sometimes be seen.
Hempstead covers the largest area of these parishes but has the smallest population. It is mostly farmland and marshes with a few houses that are well spread out.
St. Andrew's Church stands isolated, surrounded by fields, less than a mile from Eccles. It was built during the 14th century and inside you can see a very faded rustic looking screen containing paintings of saints although some are very faded. The church is kept locked, but visitors can obtain the key if they wish to look inside.
Lessingham is much smaller than Hempstead but has a larger population. It has an independent school, a Methodist Chapel, public house and a village hall which is used for indoor bowls, a gardening club, a pop-in club and various other things.
All Saints' Church is on the outskirts of the village and is only accessible by car along a narrow track which leads into the small grassy car park. The tower is thought to be 14th century and very old photographs show the church as a ruin with only the chancel in use. The nave was restored in 1890s but in 1961 the chancel was severely damaged by a storm so it was decided to block it off for safety.
The road screen containing paintings of the disciples and other figures was later removed and is now in storage at the Architectural Service archive at Gressenhall. Services alternate between these two churches each Sunday and because of the small congregation and the upkeep of both buildings, everyone has to work really hard with fund raising. A plant sale with home-made cakes and bric-a-brac is held in Lessingham Village Hall every year. This and the occasional quiz is well supported and helps boost the funds. For details of the services held in these churches, please click on the services page.