Articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors, and British History

The Brightlingsea Tiles.

church nave

A sailor's death remembered in a unique way.

All Saints Church, Brightlingsea, contains unique memorials to parishioners who have lost their lives at sea - 213 memorial tiles, to be exact. Each is a tile has a dedication and is placed in frieze which runs around the nave wall.

The tiles were started by the vicar, Reverend Pertwee, who was particularly concerned with the welfare of the sailors and fishermen.


In March 1883, there was a tremendous storm in the North Sea and he was shocked to hear of the loss of over 200 mariners from the counties which bordered the North Sea - 19 of them were from his own parish of Brightingsea.

He decided that a tile should be made for each loss of life at sea of his parishioners. He went back to 1872 when he had began his incumbency at All Saints Church. The first tile is dedicated to William Day and his son, David. They were drowned off Hartlepool.

His idea was supported by his churchwarden, and the idea was continued by their successors.


The last tile is dated 1988 and is dedicated to David E. Clifford who lost his life while on duty M.V. Union Jupiter.


In between these two dates, one can see the progression of history. The date of notable storms and resulting loss of fisherman, one only 16 years of age; the loss of the Titanic, the World Wars, the improvement in safety and decline of fishing represented by, thankfully, the reducing number of tiles in each decade.


Place links: Brightlingsea

Useful links: A full list of the names can be found on the Maritime Memorials website. In the memorial search for Place type: brightlingsea

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