The Church of St. Mary MagdaleneHistory & Character

The Great Burstead and South Green parish is situated in the heart of Essex.

It is the oldest part of Billericay, and part of the District of Basildon. There have been settlements in the parish of Great Burstead and South Green since Saxon times, possibly earlier. 

The village of Great Burstead is first recorded, about 975, as 'Burgestede' meaning 'stronghold-site'.  In the Domesday Book of 1086, it is recorded as 'Burghesteda'.  The adjacent village of South Green was first recorded as 'Southwood Greene' in 1593.  In 1777 it was recorded as 'South Green'.

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene, a Grade 1 listed building, is undoubtedly the central feature of Great Burstead.  Dating from the 12th century, it was the original parish church for the whole Billericay area, and its churchyard was the burial ground for residents of the Billericay area and beyond.The Green, together with the excellent parade of shops that abut it, is the heart of South Green.  

SignThe Green is the remnant of a much larger ancient village green, probably originally cleared from woodland.  The village sign on the Green depicts archers – a reminder of the obligatory archery practice carried out on the Green in medieval times.  When the archers were practising, other activities (such as the washing of clothes) had to cease! 

In 1997 legislation was passed requiring parish councils to be established in the Billericay area of the Basildon District.  Five parish councils were established, Great Burstead and South Green, Billericay Parish (later renamed Billericay Town), Little Burstead, Ramsden Crays and Ramsden Bellhouse. Noak Bridge and Shotgate Parish Councils have since formed and 2010 saw the addition of another local council, Bowers Gifford Parish Council bringing the number to eight within the district.

Great Burstead and South Green is the second largest parish in the Basildon District, Billericay Town being the largest.