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Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall
St Peters Chapel.jpg
Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall is located in England
Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall
Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall
Location in England
51°44′07″N 0°56′24″E / 51.73536°N 0.93994°E / 51.73536; 0.93994
Location Essex
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
History
Status Active
Architecture
Functional status chapel
Heritage designation listed Grade I
Specifications
Other dimensions wall thickness 2.5 feet (0.76 m)
Administration
Parish looked after by the parish church of St Thomas Bradwell-on-Sea
Diocese Diocese of Chelmsford

The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, is a Grade I listed building and among the oldest largely intact Christian churches in England; it is still in regular use. It dates from the years 660–662. The chapel is used regularly by the nearby Othona Community, in addition to Church of England services.

History

St Peter on the Wall, Bradwell juxta Mare, Essex - East end - geograph.org.uk - 965189
Interior view

According to Bede (who wrote his history in the early 8th century), a 'city' named Ythanceaster existed on the River Penta. The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall was almost certainly originally built by Bishop Cedd in 654. It was an Anglo-Celtic church for the East Saxons, set astride the ruins of the abandoned Roman fort of Othona. The current structure was most likely built around 654–662, incorporating the Roman bricks and stones. In 653 Cedd travelled south from Lindisfarne to spread Christianity at the behest of Sigeberht the Good, then King of the East Saxons, and, having been ordained as a bishop, returned the next year in order to build the Chapel, and probably others too. Following the death of Cedd in October 664 from plague, the Chapel became part of the Diocese of London.

St Peter on the Wall, Bradwell juxta Mare, Essex - geograph.org.uk - 965205
From the side

No further record exists of the Chapel being used until 1442, when the local clergy reported to the Bishop of London that it had been expanded slightly, with a small tower above the porch with a bell in it. However they did not know of its origins and it was unusable, having been burnt. It was repaired and returned to regular use alongside the parish church in Bradwell-on-Sea until at least the Tudor period (16th century) before falling into disuse as a church again and being used as a barn—the position of the wide barn doorway, now filled in, can be seen on the south side of the nave.

In 1920 it was restored and reconsecrated as a chapel; it achieved Grade I listed status in 1959.

Current use

The Chapel belongs to Chelmsford Cathedral and is looked after by the Chaplain, the Revd Steven Poss, Rector of the parish church of St Thomas Bradwell-on-Sea, and members of the church. Regular public services are held in the chapel each week with a Thursday morning Communion service at 9am. Special services are held at Christmas and Easter. In the summer evening services are held each Sunday in July and August at 6:30pm.

The Chapel and adjacent field are the home of the Bradwell Pilgrimage, held on the first Saturday in July. The procession starts at the Parish Church of St Thomas and the pilgrims walk to the Chapel of St Peter's, where services and events are held.

The Chapel is also used by the nearby Othona Community. Founded in 1946 by Norman Motley, rector of St Michael, Cornhill, 1956-1980, this Christian-based community is open to people of all faiths and none.

In 2018 the Chapel was the location for two music videos by the boys' choir Libera.

View southward along the coast near the chapel


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