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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Essex

by Peter Kessler, 25 July 2010

 

 

Chelmsford Part 1: Churches of Chelmsford

Chelmsford Cathedral

Chelmsford Cathedral is more formally named the Cathedral Church of St Mary, St Peter, and St Cedd. It sits between Duke Street, Church Lane and New Street in Chelmsford. The church was founded on this site about 1200, just as the town itself gained a grant to be settled (1201). It was dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, and was rebuilt in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The church was elevated to cathedral status in 1914 during an administrative review.

Chelmsford Cathedral

Its elevation made it one of the smallest cathedrals in England, albeit with one of the largest dioceses, which was created to meet the needs of the growing population east of London. In 1954 its dedication was extended to include St Peter and St Cedd (it was St Cedd who undertook a mission to the East Saxons in 654 and built St Peter's Chapel, Bradwell). The nave ceiling was rebuilt early in the nineteenth century after a partial collapse due to excavations in the vault.

Duke Street Chapel

Duke Street Chapel stands on the south-east corner of Duke Street and Park Road. The earliest Independent meeting was that of Baddow Lane, formed in 1662 after the Act of Uniformity removed Puritans from parish churches. Duke Street, or 'Ebenezer Chapel', was founded in 1803 by dissident Independents who formed this Baptist church in the face of some opposition. The building was exchanged for that on New London Road in 1847 (see below).

Central Baptist Church

The Central Baptist Church is on the western side of Victoria Road South (formerly Market Road). The church was founded in 1905 when a group of twenty-seven people met, possible from Ebenezer Strict Baptist Chapel (see below). In 1908 the present building was constructed to seat six hundred people. At the end of the twentieth century the church decided to radically remodel its premises with a view to creating a mission facility fit for the next century.

Ebenezer Strict Baptist Chapel

Ebenezer Strict Baptist Chapel is set back on the south-west corner of New London Road (originally London Street) and the Parkway. It was opened on 5 July 1848 when the members of Duke Street Chapel (see above) exchanged that building for this site on new ground south of the River Can. It soon emerged that the land on either side of the right of way from the church to the street were for sale separately, so these had to be purchased to prevent them being built upon.

Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Church

Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Church lies on the western side of New London Road, almost opposite Anchor Street, a little way south from the Baptist chapel. The church was opened in 21 October 1847 by Bishop Nicholas Wiseman and consecrated by Archbishop Manning on 20 October 1866. Constructed in a traditional style with stone walls and dressings, it possesses a twin bell turret. The church also opened a school, attached to the church on its northern side.

Christ Church United Reformed Church

Christ Church United Reformed Church is on the western side of New London Road. London Road Congregational Church was built nearby in 1840 by James Fenton, a leading nonconformist. By the time of its demolition in 1971, it had amalgamated with Baddow Road Congregational Church and Christ Church was built on the site of a former brickyard. New London Road Nonconformist Cemetery lies opposite, formed 1846, taken over by the council in 1950.

New London Road Brethren Meeting Room

New London Road Brethren Meeting Room is at 185 New London Road, on the eastern side of the street, opposite St Anne's School. The building houses a meeting of the Exclusive Brethren in Chelmsford, one of two such meetings, the other being in Hall Street. Unusually, Brethren meetings are well-signposted in Chelmsford, each bearing clear signage that the building is a 'place of public religious worship'. Unfortunately, there is no history available on the meeting.

St John the Evangelist Moulsham

St John the Evangelist Moulsham occupies the western corner of Moulsham Street and St John's Road. The church was built in 1841 in stock and gault brick, with stone dressings in the Lancet style. It has a west tower, which faces out over the street, a nave with south west porch, chancel and transepts. The tower is in three stages with the west door in three orders with shafts, in the early English style. There are lancets in the second stage, as well as in the third.

St John the Evangelist Moulsham

The lancets in the tower sit two per face, with pinnacles and pierced parapets at the top. The nave has lancets north and south, with the east part in gault brick, containing connected hood moulds to the windows and a continuous stone sill-band. Chancel and transepts date to the tower's construction, in stock brick. The roofs are slated, while that of the nave is low pitched. The building was listed Grade C on 14 December 1978.

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