London – Havering (Borough of) – Upminster – St. Laurence’s Church

The Church of St. Laurence is important to Upminster for numerous reasons, not least because it’s the origin of the town name. The church, or Minster, may have been on higher ground, hence the Upper Minster, or Upminster. There was likely a church here from as early as the seventh century, probably just made from thatch and wood, with a stone replacement not constructed until the twelfth century.

As a little more history, somewhere in this graveyard is the body of Alice Perrers, the mistress of King Edward III of England, who was for a while as influential as a Queen.

The tower may date from as early as the twelfth century and the wooden frame which supports the spire is from the thirteenth century. That’s quite an impressive piece of engineering, to make it last for seven centuries. This is also the tower from where the speed of sound was first recorded, by William Derham (1657-1735), the rector of the church and keen scientist.

Much of the rest of the building is later, mostly a rebuild from 1863 overseen by W G Bartlett, with twentieth century additions due to the increasing size of the congregation.

One gravestone seems to have got itself caught up in the path.

One of several chest tombs in the churchyard from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The path of trees.

The metal grave marker of Lydia Tunbridge.