St Mary's Westley
St Mary's Church was built in 1835 on a new site, on land given by the 1st Marquess of Bristol. William Ranger, a Brighton builder, was an innovative architect interested in new materials and new methods of construction. He patented Ranger's artificial stone - a concrete composed of gravel, sand and lime mixed with boiling water in 1832, and precast concrete blocks in 1834.
The church walls were constructed by pouring this Roman cement between timber shuttering, while his blocks were used in the tower and in the walls of the churchyard. The blocks were faced with a lime and sand plaster. A spire with pinnacles and flying buttresses topped the building. Internally, the slate roof is supported by cast iron hammer beam trusses - another innovation in 1835. The crypt contains three family vaults -the last interment there was probably in 1930.
St Mary's is one of the earliest churches in England built using precast concrete blocks.
Unfortunately, roughcast covering the spire was affected by frost and other adverse conditions. When some of this material fell from the spire on to the roof in 1959, the spire was considered unsafe. It was replaced with the present pyramidical roof.
Westley Church is currently a member of the Horringer Benefice which includes the Churches of Brockley, Horringer and Whepstead.
Services are held at 9.30 am: 1st (Family Service), 3rd (Eucharist CW) and 4th (Mattins BCP) Sundays of each month.
A monthly newsletter giving details of services, contacts, events and other information is distributed to every house in the village. It is also available, on request, by e-mail to non-residents.
St Thomas a Becket, Westley
The remains of Westley's 12th Century medieval Church of St Thomas à Becket (also known in earlier times as St Thomas of Canterbury) are situated at the end of Old Church Lane.
Severe storms in both 1744, when the steeple fell down, and again in 1789 were mainly responsible for the steady decline in the state of the building. In 1815 the Churchwardens were instructed to Repair the foundations, Make a proper Water Table, Raise the seats, Improve ventilation. In 1828 the whole building was recorded as being in bad repair, very damp and much neglected. Finally, in 1834 the building was closed, being beyond repair.
The site is now available as a quiet place for residents to visit and rest, read a book, chat with friends, or just enjoy the surrounding landscape.