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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Essex

by Peter Kessler, 22 May 2020

Basildon Part 7: Churches of Fryerns, Nevenden & Pitsea (West)

Basildon United Reformed Church, Fryerns, Basildon, Essex

Basildon United Reformed Church, Fryerns, is at 6 Honeypot Lane, in the 'box' created by Ghyll Grove to the west and Whitmore Way to the south. Pitsea Mission Chapel (see links) opened in 1885 - the first permanent Congregational presence in the district. This was succeeded by Rectory Park Drive Chapel in 1927 (see below), which lasted until 1959. This present building replaced it as Basildon Congregational Church, later United Reformed at the union of 1972.

St Andrew's Church, Fryerns, Basildon, Essex

St Andrew's Church, Fryerns, sits on the west side of The Fremnells, immediately north of the junction with Broadmayne. The first service was held in 'Vernons' bungalow (the owner bought it with the proceeds of a pools win) on the evening of 26 September 1954. The congregation also met in a community hall, and held some communion services at Holy Cross (see below). In July 1955 building work began on this dual purpose church and hall, completed later in the same year.

Holy Cross Church, Fryerns, Basildon, Essex

Holy Cross Church, Fryerns, is on the eastern side of Church Road, about fifty metres south of the truncated junction with Cranes Lane. It was first mentioned as the chapel of the Holy Cross in 1230 - probably a Norman building. Its precise location seems to be unknown, although it is most likely that it was here, where its replacement was erected in its earliest form in the fourteenth century. That initial building consisted of the nave and the two-stage tower with three bells.

Holy Cross Church, Fryerns, Basildon, Essex

The chancel was added soon after that date but was rebuilt in 1597, using Elizabethan hand-made red bricks. The porch, of about 1500, was restored in 1957, while the present door is as old as the porch and the church roof (although this underwent full restoration at the start of the twenty-first century). A door in the north wall, now blocked in, dates from the 1300s. The south wall has been rebuilt above the plinth, while the three windows in the nave are of the 1400s.

Fryerns Baptist Church, Fryerns, Basildon, Essex

Fryerns Baptist Church sits at an angle on the southern side of Whitmore Way, about thirty metres west of the junction with Whitmore Court. This land was once on the southern edge of the Fryerns property. The church belongs to the Reformed Baptist movement and was founded in 1954 by the Metropolitan Association of Strict Baptist Churches (later renamed the Association of Grace Churches South East) and the National Federation of Strict Baptist Churches.

Church of St Peter, Nevendon, Basildon, Essex

The Church of St Peter, Nevendon, is on the southern side of Church Lane, immediately east of Nevendon Road. The old centre of Nevendon is somewhat to the north of Basildon, on its modern-day edge, and virtually surrounded by industrial and retail units. This small church was built in the thirteenth century, possibly as a chantry chapel to serve a hunting lodge of the Fitz Lewis family. It is of the Early English period, consisting of a simple chancel and a nave.

Church of St Peter, Nevendon, Basildon, Essex

The west end has a small bell turret and one bell. The walls are of hard chalk covered in Kentish ragstone which must have been brought across the Thames Estuary. The north and south walls are pierced with lancet windows, dating to the 1200s and 1300s. The east window was damaged by a mine during the war. Formerly of the Decorated period it has been replaced by some fine stained glass. The roof of the 1400s is supported on crown posts placed on tie beams.

St Basil the Great Catholic Church, Pitsea, Basildon, Essex

St Basil the Great Catholic Church, Pitsea, is at the north-east corner of the junction between Luncies Road and St Teresa's Close to the east of Basildon centre. The original Basildon town centre plans showed the town centre located where Pitsea now stands, and so the church was built here, to be consecrated in 1956. Due to the presence of asbestos and also electrical issues it was in need of significant refurbishment, which was completed between January-April 2011.

Church of St Gabriel, Pitsea, Basildon, Essex

The Church of St Gabriel, Pitsea, is on the western side of Rectory Road, midway between the junctions of Halstow Way and Howard Crescent on the other side of the road. The Reverend Ernest W Grevatt, former rector of Pitsea (1924-1936) purchased the land here. A very modern church building was constructed on the site and was opened in 1964. It replaced the church of St Michael in Pitsea (see links), which was now redundant and has also partially been demolished.

Rectory Park Drive Congregational Chapel, Pitsea, Basildon, Essex

Rectory Park Drive Congregational Chapel was at the north-west corner of Nicholas Drive and Rectory Park Drive (now the eastern edge of the car park here). It replaced Pitsea Mission Chapel at Gun Hill (see links) in 1927 after that proved too small for a growing congregation. It could seat 500 and it survived until 1959 when the Honeypot Lane building replaced it (see above). The area was later completely rebuilt and the road layout redesigned.

Five photos on this page by P L Kessler (from 2011), with three kindly contributed by Terry Joyce, Louisa Hennessy, and Sludge G, all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group.



Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.