St James 
West Tilbury, Essex    
© Nigel Anderson - St James Trust

The Nave

The nave is the main part of the church where the congregation (the people who come to worship) sit. The word “nave” comes from a Latin word “navis” meaning “ship”, because the ceiling very often looked like an upside-down hull (bottom of a ship). The current nave measures 38ft 6in by 20ft 6in. It is thought that the nave was widened during the fourteenth century by the addition of a northern aisle which was destroyed when the original stone tower collapsed in 1711 and not replaced in the rebuilding of the church later that year. The existence of the north aisle (with its columns and arches ) remains in doubt and certainly Henry King (Ref 18) could “find no vestige of them” on his visit of 1857, although if there was an aisle, the masonry would probably have been used in the rebuilding of the wall during the earlier renovation. Philip Morant (Ref 16) certainly mentions the collapse of the north aisle in his book of 1768.
Southside of St James c.1960 Opening in North wall of Vestry
The nave has a single lancet window near the west end of the south wall along with two additional two-light windows with decorated tracery. The north wall has two similar windows although these are not placed opposite those in the south wall which is unusual. All of the windows have been externally renewed as part of the 1879 Victorian renovation (see plans page xxx). The aisle like projection towards the west end forms a porch with a four-light window, in perpendicular style, under a rectangular hood in the east wall (see page xx). The western part forms a vestry, again with a square headed window of three lights (see Windows section). There is the remains of a small square opening in the wall above the window whose original use is unknown.
Modern Layout of the Nave  May 1982 Inside of the Nave @ 1979
The roof of the vestry continues the line of the nave roof and is protected by a parapet with a lead roof. There are buttresses at the diagonals of this new “aisle” projection that makes up the porch and vestry. The east gable, above the chancel arch, is narrower at the top than at the foot and there is an unusual “half-hipped” arrangement to throw off the water. In the south wall of the nave is some crude herringbone masonry.