St. Margaret's Church, Bowers Gifford, "Now and When"?

I would like to present a “NOW & WHEN” picture????

Since living in Benfleet and travelling to Fenchurch Street by train I have always noted the small isolated Church just out from Benfleet Station.  I found out it is St Margaret’s Church in Bowers Gifford, so off I went to take some pictures of this quaint Church.  On speaking to a gentleman tending the grave of his Father and Grandfather he informed me of a large memorial grave covered over with bramble.  On inspection I found it’s the family grave of the Howard family, famous for the Howard’s Dairies which served all the local areas including Benfleet.  The present Co-op shop in the High Road used to be Howard’s Dairies.

Fortunately, amongst my many friends and acquaintances, I have hopefully managed to make contact to have the Memorial Family grave cleared, cleaned and reinstated to its original condition.

If anyone has any information or pictures relative to the memorial, please message me to add to the story, by adding a comment at the bottom of this page.

Aerial view of St. Margaret's Church
Ken Slaney
The Howard family memorial grave
Ken Slaney
Brambles covering the memorial grave
Ken Slaney
Brambles covering the memorial grave
Ken Slaney
St. Margaret's Church
Ken Slaney
St. Margaret's Church

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  • I visited St Margaret’s in 2002 when taking my younger daughter to Essex for a job interview. Having lived in Devon for many years, it was a pleasure to return to Benfleet where I grew up. My grandmother had also lived in Benfleet and when she passed away, her burial took place at St Margaret’s. She always said that she wanted to be buried there because it looked so lovely when she passed it on the train. So the visit gave me an opportunity to pay my respects and show my daughter her great-grandmother’s grave.
    There was another reason for our trip to the church – also of interest to my daughter. Her grandmother, my mother, grew up in Tarpots and attended St Margaret’s regularly on Sundays. She recalls that the church was packed every week; so full that the congregation spilled into the porch outside. This is surprising because the church, in a time of few cars, is a bit isolated. But St Margaret’s had a popular vicar and drew its congregation from a wide parish, including Bowers Gifford, Tarpots and a sprinkling of hamlets and farms in the area. Mum knew people who walked to St Margaret’s and back from Benfleet.
    This was during the 1930s. Just before war broke out, Mum (Vi) met my future Dad (Doug). He had joined the RAF and was told that he and his colleagues were moving elsewhere, and during a break he could have a two-day leave to get married.
    Dad had an overnight guard duty on Friday evening and then travelled by motor-bike on Saturday morning (without any sleep) down to Benfleet. The wedding took place at St Margaret’s on his arrival!
    Meanwhile, on the Thursday, Mum had received a telegram alerting her to the unexpected leave and had to make all the wedding arrangements, including a hastily organised special licence and sandwiches, tea and cakes for the small reception. They were married on 15th June, 1940 – and Dad had to return to his new base near Cirencester the following day. Quite a weekend, and – as my daughter commented – very different from marriage arrangements today!
    So thanks to Ken Slaney, whose article and photographs brought back happy memories for me and my 105 year-old Mum!

    (Since this comment was published John has sent three photos of St.Margaret’s, including one of his parent’s wedding. Please click on this link to see the photos)

    By John Brown (13/04/2024)
  • When I was a pupil at St Margaret’s school, we used to go to the Church on several Saints days, and then have the rest of the day off. [1961 – 4]

    By Lorna (22/03/2024)
  • St Margaret’s Church was built approximately 1320. It is a lovely church with a great history.

    By Richard North (20/03/2024)

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