Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall
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 between 660–662.
|Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall|
|Denomination||Anglican Church; used regularly by the nearby Othona Community|
|Heritage designation||listed Grade I|
|Other dimensions||wall thickness 2.5 feet (0.76 m)|
|Parish||looked after by the parish church of St Thomas Bradwell-on-Sea|
|Diocese||Diocese of Chelmsford|
According to Bede, 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. Cedd travelled south from Lindisfarne to spread Christianity at the behest of Sigeberht the Good, then King of the East Saxons, in 653 and returned the next year having been ordained as a bishop 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.
No further record exists of the Chapel's use 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.
The Chapel belongs to Chelmsford Cathedral and is looked after by the Chaplain Revd Steven Poss, Rector of the parish church of St Thomas Bradwell-on-Sea. 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 when 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.
- Historic England 2012.
- Bede 2008, p. 146.
- The Fort of Othona and the Chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex (booklet available at the Chapel itself)
- "Chapel of St Peter on the Wall". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- "The Othona Community's Beginnings". Othona. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- In Paradisum (solo: Rocco Tesei) and Lacrymosa (solo: Alex Gula and Leo Barron); Libera Official, 2018 (YouTube).
- Bede (2008) [Written c. 731 AD]. McClure, Judith; Collins, Roger J. H. (eds.). Bede: Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780192838667.
- "'Bradwell-juxta-Mare', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 4, South east (London, 1923), pp. 13-16". BHO. University of London. 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- Historic England (2012), "St Peter's Chapel, Bradwell-on-sea (Grade I) (1110942)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 24 March 2019
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea.|
- Information and a selection of photographs from the Anglo-Saxon Churches in England website.
- The chapel as depicted on the map series OS 25-inch 1892-1914 published by the National Library of Scotland.
- Information from Essex County Council about St Peter's Way, a long distance path through Essex to the Chapel.
- Information and illustrations of the chapel from An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 4, South east (London, 1923), published by British History Online.