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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Essex

by Peter Kessler, 22 May 2020

Basildon Part 8: Churches of Pitsea (West) & Vange

Pitsea Mount Wesleyan Methodist Church, Basildon, Essex

Pitsea Mount Wesleyan Methodist Church is located on the outside, north-eastern corner of Brackendale Avenue, immediately to the south of the A13 eight-lane carriageway on the western edge of Pitsea. The church was opened in 1929, when this area of housing was being built up from what had previously been open countryside. The church closed in the 1970s, and today (2019) the building provides a home to Pitsea Mount Community Association Hall.

Church of St Michael, Pitsea Mount, Basildon, Essex

The Church of St Michael, Pitsea Mount, stood some way to the eastern side of Pitsea Hall Lane, with Brackendale Avenue to its south. It was originally built in the twelfth century. The tower is believed to have been added in the sixteenth century - a little late for the main phase of tower-building but not unreasonably so. The church underwent rebuilding in 1870. By the mid-1900s it was showing signs of structural defects. Fears over its future were apparent as early as 1970.

Church of St Michael, Pitsea Mount, Basildon, Essex

By that time it had already become semi-redundant. The planned Pitsea Mount development failed to secure its future and, in 1983, it was officially declared redundant. St Gabriel's Church (see links) had hastened the decision, being more accessible. The nave was later demolished following severe vandalism. The tower is now (2019) owned and used by Orange PCS Ltd as a base station, with the former churchyard being restored as a public open space with impressive views.

Sandon Road Hall, Pitsea, Basildon, Essex

Sandon Road Hall occupies a plot on the northern side of Sandon Road, about forty metres to the east of the High Barrels turning. In the early 1900s this area had three roads plotted but possibly not yet laid out, with Station Road cutting through the modern Sandon Road. The hall seems to have existed by the inter-war period on that layout, and the 1960s restructuring provided the present road system. Today the hall is used by an Evangelical Christian group.

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, Vange, Basildon, Essex

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, Vange, stands outside the north-east corner of Bardfield, off Clay Hill Road (originally Timberlog Lane) to the immediate south-east of Basildon town centre. The main railway line lies right behind it. The roads here were plotted in the early 1900s and, unlike much of the district, they have remained unchanged. A small building existed in this site in the immediate post-war period, but the hall itself is a much later construction - date unknown.

Trinity Methodist Church

Trinity Methodist Church sits at the north-east corner of the junction between Clay Hill Road and Bardfield, and the building faces west. With the new town being established, Methodists began meeting in 1953 in the home of a Mr Newman-Brown. The congregation moved first to Hillview, an empty bungalow, and then to the Free Church fellowship (see below). By 1957 it was decided that a proper church building was needed. The present building was opened in 1959.

Gordon Mission Hall / Free Church Fellowship / Basildon Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Basildon, Essex

Gordon Mission Hall is at the south-east corner of Clay Hill Road and Bardfield, opposite Trinity Methodist Church (see above). A more traditional Victorian-style building, it was established around the First World War period, when the first nearby homes were new. By the 1950s it was the Free Church Fellowship, with members of the later Trinity Methodists briefly joining it. Now it is Jigsaw Pre-School, while Basildon Seventh-Day Adventist Church also uses it.

The Parish Church of St Chad Vange, Basildon, Essex

The Parish Church of St Chad Vange occupies a plot on the western side of Clay Hill Road, at its southern end, about seventy metres from the London Road junction. Residents of the initial housing construction in this eastern part of Vange looked to All Saints Church (see links) for their spiritual health. St Paul's Chapel was created to provided more local services (see below), from 1939. St Chad's was its replacement in 1958, designed by Humphreys and Hurst.

The Parish Church of St Chad Vange, Basildon, Essex

The free-standing bell tower, so characteristic of modernist post-war architecture, houses a single, ancient bell. That bell required repair work by 2013, and once funds had been secured to cover the work, from the Church Buildings Council (ChurchCare) and the Heritage Lottery Fund, a good deal of scaffolding had to be erected from the church porch's roof to the tower to be able to reach it. The restored bell was re-dedicated on Sunday 8 February 2015.

St Paul's Chapel, Vange, Basildon, Essex

St Paul's Chapel, Vange, is on the west side of Clay Hill Road (Timberlog Lane at the time of its construction), immediately south of St Chad's Church (see above) and north of the London Road junction. The chapel opened on 12 July 1939, created by converting part of the church hall for All Saints Vange (see links). That church hall still survives, despite its reduction in size. The chapel had seating for seventy and survived as a mission church until 1958 when St Chad replaced it.

Five photos on this page by P L Kessler (from 2011), with one kindly contributed by Ken Porter of Basildon Borough Heritage Society, and with one by Keith Guyler / British Methodist Buildings and two by Julian Walker, all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group. Additional information by Julian Walker, and from The Buildings of England: Essex, Volume 11, Nikolaus Pevsner (Yale University Press, 1965).



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