The Rector Sam Norton recently came across a fascinating article by church archaeologist Daniel Secker following an extensive study of West Mersea Parish Church.
From the conclusion: “The west tower of St Peter’s church is perhaps the oldest structure in England to be commissioned by Norman patrons, being potentially as old as c.1042… It is possible the tower functioned as a lighthouse to guide Norman mariners to what was then an unfamiliar place… West Mersea is potentially the oldest standing church in Essex bar Bradwell and one of the earliest in England.” (extract from “The Minster Church of SS Peter and Paul, West Mersea, Essex: Structure, Settlement and Landscape” pub Daniel Secker B.A 2014)
The article also contains the plan shown below which shows the many different periods during which construction of the church took place.
The full article may be viewed/downloaded here: http://www.fwmpc.org/wp-content/uploads/The_minster_church_of_SS._Peter_and_Paul.pdf (caution large file!)
More of Mr. Secker’s work can be found on his website here: http://independent.academia.edu/Secker