St Mary's Ballinger
St. Mary’s is a small mission church constructed in brick and flint with white washed interior walls. It is tucked away at the end of the left fork of Blackthorne Lane. We have Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month and special family services at Easter, Mothering Sunday, Harvest and at Christmas. Apart from the church services St. Mary’s is a place of peace for those of faith and even for those of no faith. The church is not solely used for services it is open to all as a tranquil place to rest with their thoughts. Local events are also held in the church.
St. Mary’s Church was built by Mr A. E. Watson of The Lee Manor in 1873 “as a school and lecture room for the poor”. The picture in the Church shows Mr. Watson with the teachers, surrounded by their pupils. This placed it at the centre of village life and it never lost that position, because the caretaker’s family (name of Evans) came to live in one cottage in 1920. When Dorothy Evans came to live in Watson Cottage in 1920, the Church was used by the Church of England and the Free Church, with their services alternating between morning and afternoon. (The Free Church stopped holding services in the 1960’s).
There was a Dames school at St Mary’s during the week run by a Miss Beeson for small children and Dorothy remembered putting their slates out, although she herself went to Lee Common School. The Evans family looked after the church for over 50 years.
Before the War Memorial Village Hall was built after the First World War, St. Mary’s was used for village events.
The most recent additions to the Church are the porch (1986) and kitchen, at the turn of the millennium.