Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry

serving the parishes of Tolleshunt Knights with Tiptree, Great Braxted, Copford, Easthorpe, Messing, Inworth,
Layer de la Haye, Layer Breton with Birch, and Layer Marney

The 'Layer' Parishes
Layer de la Haye • Layer Breton with Birch • Layer Marney


C of E logoOur 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.

Layer Parishes Rogation Walk 2016
The 'Layer' Parishes on their May 2016 Rogation Walk.   Photo © Geoff Russell Grant.

TWTMlogoThe Benefice of Thurstable and Winstree and its Team Ministry

The three 'Layer' parishes are part of the Benefice of Thurstable and Winstree which came into being on 1st October 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 Lydia Smith has been appointed to fill the post of Team Vicar in our benefice. She is due to be licensed on Thursday, 6th October, from which date she will officially commence her ministry among us.

The Revd Julia Russell Grant is an Associate Minister in the benefice Ministry Team. The Revd Peter Streete is an Assistant Curate.

Sunday Services

Details of our usual pattern of Sunday services are to be found on the Services page of this website. This pattern is subject to occasional changes, such as during special seasons in the church's year, so 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.

Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals

Until the Revd Lydia Smith takes up her appointment as Team Vicar, the first point of contact for baptisms and funerals in the Layer parishes is the Revd Julia Russell Grant.

For baptisms and funerals in the Copford and Easthorpe Parishes, and for weddings in all five parishes, please contact the Team Rector, the Revd Anne-Marie Renshaw.

News (see also our Forthcoming Events page)

Revd Lydia SmithComings and Goings

The Revd Lydia Smith has been appointed to the post of Team Vicar in the Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry. Lydia is currently Assistant Curate in the Saffron Walden and Villages Team Ministry. She is married to Jon and they have two daughters, Phoebe and Ismay.

Photo: The Revd Lydia Smith

Lydia is due to be licensed by the Bishop of Colchester on Thursday, 6th October, at 7-30 pm, at St John the Baptist, Layer de la Haye. Please pray for Lydia and Jon as they prepare to move here.

The Revd Liz Barnes, Assistant Curate in our benefice, has been appointed to the post of Priest-in-Charge of Great Oakley, Wix and Wrabness and Curate-in-Charge of Tendring and Beaumont-cum-Moze in the Deanery of Harwich. While we will be sorry to see her and Mick go, we wish Liz all the best for her future ministry.

Liz's last Sunday with us will be on 18 September and there will be a lunch after the morning services (more details in due course). Liz is to be Licensed for her new roles at a service to be held at 7-30pm on Tuesday, 11th October, at St Edmund King & Martyr, Tendring. Please pray for Liz and Mick as they prepare to move from Messing.

Building Work at St John the Baptist, Layer de la Haye: The building works associated with the new porch are now well advanced. We were able to start work at the turn of the year. The builders started with the concrete raft on which the porch extension is now built. This was followed by the construction of the trench for the environmentally friendly toilet. They have linked up to the water and electricity supply, running pipes and cables from the area of the outside tap.

The porch is now virtually complete and stonemasons have very tastefully linked the new porch to the south aisle. The builders have removed the former wooden floor in the south aisle. It became clear from the poor state of this floor that we would have been faced with the problem of replacing it even if we had not undertaken the extension. It was very poorly constructed and rot was everywhere. This problem also existed underneath the organ and many will have noticed that the organ had started to tilt towards the wall. This was another problem which we would have had to face sooner rather than later irrespective of the current work. The organ has been dismantled and placed in storage until the building work is complete, after which it will be rebuilt.

The project has proved more extensive than originally envisaged but the various issues, which were bound to arise in a building started in 1128, will hopefully be overcome and we will be able to leave the church in a much better state for future generations. We hope to be able to decorate the inside of the church as part of the current work which should give the whole building a lift.

Our fundraising target has been met thanks to the generosity of many parishioners and other friends of the church. We have also benefitted from substantial grants from The Abberton Reservoir Community Fund, the Veolia Environmental Trust, The Friends of Essex Churches, The Beatrice Laing Trust and Allchurches Trust Limited.

For safety reasons, while building work is in progress, the church is normally closed except for Sunday and other occasional services.

Commemorating World War One: Following the commemoration in 2014 of the start of World War One, a 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.

Site Map

Further Afield - Our Parishes in Context

Our parishes are in the Witham Deanery.

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.

Diocesan Bishop
Bishop Stephen
The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell
Bishop of Chelmsford
Area Bishop
Bishop Roger
The Rt Revd Roger Morris

Bishop of Colchester
Archdeacon Annette Cooper
The Ven Annette Cooper
Archdeacon of Colchester
Area Dean
Revd Sally Lodge
Revd Sally Lodge
Area Dean of Witham

Page updated: 23 AUG 2016