Our three parishes serve the Essex villages of Layer de la Haye, Birch, Layer Breton, and Layer Marney. We are part of the Church of England and our parishes are situated in attractive rural settings, just south of Colchester.
We welcome everyone who would like to join us for our services of worship, or our social events, regardless of the stage he or she has reached on their own spiritual journey. Meeting and worshipping together are essential parts of christian faith and life.
Thank you for visiting our website. Here we aim to provide a range of helpful and interesting information about our three parishes and their activities. Lower down this page are links to the main pages on the site, each with a brief explanation of content. If you would like to suggest additions to our pages, please contact the webmaster.
The 'Layer' Parishes on their May 2014 Rogation Walk. Photo © Geoff Russell Grant.
The three 'Layer' parishes are part of the Benefice of Thurstable and Winstree which came into being on 1st October last year (2013). The other six parishes in the benefice are Tolleshunt Knights with Tiptree, Great Braxted, Messing, Inworth, Copford and Easthorpe. The Revd Anne-Marie Renshaw, based at Tiptree, is Team Rector and has overall responsibility for ministry in the benefice.
The Revd Celia Cook is our Team Vicar and is based at Layer de la Haye. Celia took up her appointment as Team Vicar on 8th April this year, when she was licensed by Bishop Stephen. She has day to day responsibility for ministry in the 'Layer' parishes and the parishes of Copford and Easthorpe. Celia normally has Saturday as her one 'day off' each week. It would be appreciated, therefore, if you could please avoid contacting her about non-urgent matters on a Saturday.
The Revds Julia Russell Grant and Peter Streete are Assistant Curates (unpaid), working with the Celia and other members of the Ministry Team. In addition to Sunday duties, Julia is committed to two 'duty' days per week. Peter is mainly involved with the Copford and Easthorpe parishes.
If you have any queries or wish to discuss a personal matter, please contact Celia in the first instance. If she is unavailable, you are invited to contact Julia or Anne-Marie.
Information on services in the 'Layer' parishes during August can be found on the Forthcoming Events page.
From the beginning of September (2014), there will some changes to the normal pattern of Sunday services in our five parishes because of our new situation following the formation of the Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry. Details of the revised pattern are to be found on the Services page of this website. The intention is that this pattern should operate for a sixth month trial period. The pattern of services will then be reviewed following an assessment of what appears to be practical and sustainable for the future.
We do recommend that you regularly check for any changes by visiting the Forthcoming Events page of this website and looking in our monthly publications : the Parish Gazette, for services at Layer de la Haye, and Parish News for services at Layer Marney and Layer Breton.
Tower Openings in August: Once again Layer de la Haye's church tower will be open to visitors on Sunday afternoons in August. Those who wish, will have the chance to climb to the top of the tower and view the recently enlarged Abberton Reservoir which has changed substantially in appearance since last August. Follow this link for more details of the tower openings.
Commemorating World War One: As we prepare to commemorate the start of World War One, a new page has been added to this site with details of those from the parishes of Layer Marney, Birch, Layer Breton and Layer de la Haye who fell in two World Wars. Follow this link to view the page The Fallen of the Layer Parishes in Two World Wars. The page is currently 'work-in-progress' as we hope to add more details of the fallen, in due course.
New Bishop of Colchester: Roger Morris was consecrated Bishop on Friday, 25th July at St Paul's Cathedral in London. Formerly Archdeacon of Worcester, Bishop Roger will be installed as Bishop of Colchester on 7 September 2014 at Chelmsford Cathedral.
At the time of the announcement of his appointment as our new bishop, Roger Morris said: "I am really thrilled to have been asked to come and serve the churches and people of this wonderfully varied part of Essex. Everyone I've met has been incredibly warm and friendly and generous - so much so that they have made coming here feel a lot like coming home.
"These are exciting times for the Church as we live out and celebrate our faith in new, engaging and transformative ways. This is a time in which we are called to re-imagine a vision for the church in the 21st Century which is authentic and relevant and helps us become all we are called to be.
"As Bishop, I believe that it is important to make a priority of being available, being approachable and being known. Bishops are often talked about as being shepherds and Pope Francis talks of the importance of the shepherd 'smelling of the sheep'. That means spending time with and knowing and identifying with the people we are privileged to serve. I am really looking forward to getting out and about and getting to know the people of the Colchester Area."
The Bishop of Chelmsford, The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, added: "It is a joy to welcome Roger Morris as the next Bishop of Colchester. This is a time of great opportunity for the church in north Essex.
"Roger comes to us with great experience of ministry in rural areas. His previous ministry as Diocesan Director of Parish Development and Evangelism, as Rector of a number of parishes, and latterly as Archdeacon will be a huge asset to the diocese. Roger brings evangelistic flair and a strong teaching ministry. He will bring energetic and creative leadership to the Colchester Episcopal Area.
"We welcome Roger and Sally and their family to the diocese, and look forward to them joining us."
Rogation Walk and Worship - 25th May: We held our annual Rogation Walk and Worship on 25th May when we were blessed with fine weather during a bank holiday weekend of somewhat mixed weather. Starting with breakfast and an act of worship in Layer de la Haye church, we then set out across the fields to Layer Breton. On the way gardens, fields and the heath were blessed before we enjoyed 'elevenses' and worship at St Mary's, Layer Breton.
The final leg of the journey was to Layer Marney church, with a stop to bless the farmyard at Layer Marney Tower. In the church our Team Vicar, Celia, presided at the eucharist before we tucked into a splendid buffet lunch.
There was a good turnout which included all age ranges from the very young to some of us who are 'of riper years'. A most enjoyable event throughout.
Our grateful thanks to those who prepared the breakfast, with its appetising aroma of sizzling bacon and sausages, and to those who contributed to, and served, the generous and attractive buffet lunch.
Right: Graham Howlett with the cross leads our procession across the fields.
Photo: © Geoff Russell Grant.
Our parishes are in the Witham Deanery. Information about the Deanery can be found on the Witham Deanery Website.
Witham Deanery is in the Diocese of Chelmsford. To learn more about our large Diocese which stretches from heavily populated East London to quiet rural Essex villages, visit the Chelmsford Diocesan Website.
The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell
Bishop of Chelmsford
The Rt Revd Roger Morris
Bishop of Colchester
The Ven Annette Cooper
Archdeacon of Colchester
The Revd Geoff Bayliss
Rural Dean of Witham
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Page updated: 31 JUL 2014