St Matthew

The church is notable for its collection of seven rare WWI wooden battlefield crosses, gifted to the families when replaced by permanent stone memorials.

About this church

Amongst the seven battlefield crosses there are three Lockes, two Prykes, a Hollick and a Palmer. Oddly, the three Lockes all have their surname spelled the same way on the crosses, but on the memorial only one of them has the final ‘e’. Charles John Locke was a sergeant in the Suffolk Regiment. He was killed on the 10th September 1916, and is buried in Abbeville military cemetery on the Somme. He was the son of John and Eliza Locke of Leavenheath. Arthur William 'Billy' Lock was a private in the Suffolk Regiment, and was killed on 18th November 1916. He was 24 years old. Billy was the son of Thomas and Mary Ann Lock of Leavenheath, and is buried at Choques Military Cemetery in the Pas de Calais. Robert Lock was also a private in the Suffolk Regiment, the brother of Mrs Hasler of Castle Hedingham. He was killed on January 18th 1918, and is buried at Artillery Wood Cemetery near Ypres.

GHJ Hollick's cross includes the initials MM, for Military Medal. He was the son of Mrs Louise Hollick of Leavenheath, and was killed just a month before the end of the War. He is buried at Guizancourt Military Cemetery at Gouy on the outskirts of Rouen, suggesting that he died in hospital.

Edgar Pryke was a Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps, who was killed over France on 30th November 1917. Percy Pryke was a private in the Hampshire regiment, and was killed during the attack on Gallipoli on 13th August 1915, He is remembered on the Helles memorial above the Bosphorus.

Frederick George Palmer died a few weeks after the War ended, in Cairo, Egypt, on the 17th December 1918 (18th on the war memorial). A Private in the Suffolk yeomanry, he is buried in Cairo Memorial Cemetery. He was the son of George Palmer of Spring Farm, Leavenheath.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Level access to the main areas

Other nearby churches

St Mary the Virgin

A small, charming 11th century Norman church standing near the River Stour in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with a notable ornamented south door, fine Norman chancel arch, 13th and 14th century wall paintings and unique 15th century font.

St James

Built around 1400 and seats about 250 people, and famous for being the location of John Constable’s best altar piece 'Christ blesses the bread and wine'.


St Mary at the Wall

The former church St Mary at the Walls (now Colchester Arts Centre) is built against the Roman Walls and overlooking the south western corner of the old walled town of Colchester.

Help support ExploreChurches by becoming a Friend of the National Churches Trust