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The church of the Holy Family and All Saints is a notable 19th-century church, constructed of knapped flint and gault brick in the lancet style by John Brown of Norwich, 1840-2. It was built as a chapel of ease to St Nicholas on Chipping Hill. John Brown also designed the school, which stood on the site of the car park until it was demolished in the 1960s. All Saints was built as an Anglican church, but it closed in 1969. However, it was reopened as a Catholic church following refurbishment by Plater Inkpen, in 1987-9, at which time the adjacent presbytery was also built. The cast iron railings and red brick boundary wall are important features. Mature trees and planting in the churchyard also contribute to the green outlook along the street and soften the setting of the car park. The churchyard is an important green space within the conservation area.

The Church was granted a Royal Order in 1991 to declare the churchyard closed. Access remains through a gate in the wall of the Newlands car park and there is another gate in Lockram Lane.

At the front of the church are original cast iron railings put up with the church in 1842. At the back (along Lockram Lane) the railings have a rare surviving inscription ‘Davey, Paxman and Davey’ from the churchyard extension in 1867. According to Janet Gyford, very few of these inscriptions survive. One of the graves, towards the east end, is of Auriol Round, one of the first Witham men killed in the First World War.

The Closed Churchyard is a haven of wildlife now maintained by Witham Town Council. There are four magnificent trees, a Cedar of Lebanon, an Oak, growing naturally straight and tall (not pollarded to form a stag's head crown), a Sweet Chestnut and a Sycamore, all reminders of a long-gone private garden. Lime trees stand near  the car park wall, their branches cut back to make tall columns of  summer leaves, and Hollies, Yews, Ashes, Hawthorns and Crab Apples  can also be found. A line of young Oaks and Ashes has been planted alongside the car park wall beyond the gate.

Sources: Essex County Council; Janet Gyford; Val Carpenter.

Timber framing of Witham Town Hall.

Text and Photographs: John Palombi and Cyril Taylor unless otherwise accredited. Illustrations: John Finch and Julie & John Denney. Translations: Google.com. Original Concept: Joy Vaughan, Witham Town Centre Strategy Group. Narration: John Rhodes
 

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