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 Ministry Team

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 leading ministry in the benefice.

The Revd Lydia Smith, based at Layer de la Haye, is Team Vicar and has day-to-day responsibility for leading ministry in the parishes of Layer de la Haye, Layer Breton with Birch, Layer Marney, Copford and Easthorpe.

The Revd Julia Russell Grant is an Associate Minister in the Ministry Team.

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

To discuss a baptism, wedding or funeral in the Layer, Copford and Easthorpe parishes please contact our Team Vicar, The Revd Lydia Smith.

News (see also our Forthcoming Events page)

We welcome our new Team Vicar

On Thursday, 6th October, The Revd Lydia Smith was licensed by the Bishop of Colchester as Team Vicar in the Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry, and as Director of the Centre for Rural Excellence within the Diocese of Chelmsford.

The licensing of the Revd Lydia Smith
Lydia's licensing. From left to right, the Ven Annette Cooper (Archdeacon of Colchester),
Lydia, Anne-Marie (Team Rector), The Rt Revd Roger Morris (Bishop of Colchester).

Lydia is married to Jon and they have two daughters, Phoebe and Ismay. The family has moved into The Vicarage at Layer de la Haye, from where Lydia will carry out her ministry among us. Please pray for Lydia as she commences her ministry here and for the family as they settle into their new home.

A Message from the Revd Liz Barnes

On Tuesday evening, 11th October, Liz Barnes, formerly Assistant Curate in our benefice, was licensed by the Bishop of Colchester as Priest-in-Charge of Great Oakley, Wix and Wrabness and Curate-in-Charge of Tendring and Beaumont-cum-Moze. Liz has written the following letter of thanks to the people in our benefice:

From: The Rectory, Wix Road, Great Oakley, CO12 5BJ

13th October 2016

Dear all,

Both Mick and I would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the beautiful farewell lunch on 18th September, the wonderful send-off and the very generous gifts that you gave us. The Wilkin's hamper and the Vases were just perfect. We were both also incredibly moved by the generosity of the cheque that you also gave us. We are thinking very carefully about what we might spend it on and have not actually decided yet, but, we will let you know in due course what we buy. And I have to tell you that the lovely messages in our leaving cards brought tears to our eyes!!

My Licensing Service Tuesday 11th October was amazing, it was such a joyful occasion and so affirming - I enjoyed every minute of it!! Having so many very special people supporting me made a very special evening perfect! I was so overwhelmed by how many of you came - thank you!

Thank you also for all the cards and good wishes we have received since we moved and the thoughtfulness that lies behind all of these.

We will miss you and hope to see you from time to time.

May God richly bless you all.

With our love and prayers

Liz and Mick

Please continue to pray for Liz as she commences her ministry in the Tendring area and for Mick and her as they settle into their new home and surroundings.

Building Work at St John the Baptist, Layer de la Haye: The building works associated with the new porch have now been completed and were blessed by the Bishop during Lydia's licensing service on October 6th.

We now have the benefit of running water, a kitchen area and a toilet at the church: much needed facilities which will open new possibilities for the use of the building. The stonemasons have very tastefully linked the new porch to the south aisle. The former wooden floor in the south aisle had to be removed as it was very poorly constructed and rot was everywhere. A new floor has been laid and tiled to match the flooring in the main aisle.

To enable the flooring work to take place the organ had to be dismantled and placed in storage until the building work was complete. The organ has now been rebuilt and it is a delight to hear it in use again at our services.

Our fundraising target was met thanks to the generosity of many parishioners and other friends of the church. We 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.

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: 11 Nov 2016 at 11:31