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For the surname, see Chappell.

Chappel is a village and Civil parish in the borough of Colchester, Essex which sits on the River Colne. It is famous for its Victorian viaduct, which crosses the Colne valley.

St Barnabas Chapel, Chappel, Essex - - 58908.jpg
St Barnabas Church
Chappel is located in Essex
 Chappel shown within Essex
Population approx 400
OS grid reference TL895279
District Colchester
Shire county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Colchester
Postcode district CO6
Dialling code 01206 2 and 01787 2
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Harwich and North Essex
List of places

Coordinates: 51°55′03″N 0°45′09″E / 51.9175°N 0.7525°E / 51.9175; 0.7525

Name and history[edit]

The present name of Chappel derives from the construction of a small chapel of ease, noted in 1285 AD as standing at the northern boundary of the parish of Great Tey.[1] During the 16th century, because of concerns from Chappel residents about the distance to Great Tey's own church at festival time, this area was split from the parish[2] and become a separate entity known as Pontisbright (lit. "Britric's bridge") that would eventually become known as Chappel.[1]

In 1433, the vicar of Great Tey agreed that the inhabitants of Chappel could find and elect their own chaplain. The benefice itself was united with that of the neighbouring village of Wakes Colne in 1938.[2] The chapel itself, now the parish church of St Barnabas, is a grade I listed building.[3]

Chappel Viaduct[edit]

Chappel's Victorian railway viaduct.

The Chappel viaduct was built between 1847 and 1849 for the Colchester and Stour extension of the Eastern Counties Railway. Originally planned to be a timber structure, the viaduct was built of locally made brick because of the additional cost of maintaining a timber structure. Approximately 600 men were involved in the construction, most of whom were local East Anglians. The cost of construction was approximately £21,000.[4][5]

The viaduct consists of 32 arches of 30 feet (9 m) span, with a total length of 1,136 feet (346 m), and a maximum height of 80 feet (24 m). The piers consist of two shafts, separated by a 6 feet (2 m) opening, and joined at top and bottom by arches; each shaft contain a hollow void 4 feet (1.2 m) by 3 feet (1 m) maximum, partially filled with concrete to the level of the bottom arch. The running level of the viaduct has a gradient of 1 in 120[4][5]

The viaduct became a listed monument in 1967,[6] and is thought to be the second-largest brick-built structure in England after Battersea Power Station.[7]

The first passenger train to Sudbury, carrying an official party from Colchester, ran on 2 July 1849.[8] The viaduct currently carries the Marks Tey to Sudbury branch railway (Gainsborough Line), which connects regularly with trains to and from London's Liverpool Street Station.

Village amenities[edit]

The village has a pub dating from the 13th century, a parish church, a United Reformed church, a post office and general store, village hall and a railway station, Chappel and Wakes Colne station, which houses the East Anglian Railway Museum. It also has a children's play area which was upgraded in 2007/08 by Chappel Parish Council.

In celebration of the millennium, the Chappel Millennium Green was opened. The Millennium Green has two areas: a nature reserve with board walk and a mown grass area for general recreation isbordered by a gravel path. It has also hosted several events, including the burning of a beacon and Colne Valley Festival events.

Village sign[edit]

Chappel's village sign depicts a bridge crossing a river, symbolic of the old bridge, dating from 1140 AD, which crossed the river Colne and connected the two halves of the estate of Crepping Manor. The lord of the manor was, at that time, responsible for its upkeep.[1]

Notable former residents[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Stratford, Ian (1999). Lost: Chappel and Wakes Colne. Back cover. 
  2. ^ a b "Chappel: Church". A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10: Lexden Hundred (Part) including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. 2001. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  3. ^ "Name: CHURCH OF ST BARNABAS List entry Number: 1238806". English Heritage. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Bruff, P. (1850). "Description of the Chapple Viaduct, Upon the Colchester and Stour Valley Extension, of the Eastern Counties Railway". Minutes of the Proceedings 9 (1850): 287. doi:10.1680/imotp.1850.24162.  edit
  5. ^ a b Hill, Jeremy, Out & About - Chappel Viaduct, Chappel Parish Council 
  6. ^ "THE VIADUCT", (English Heritage) 
  7. ^ "Chappel Viaduct". BBC Seven Man Made Wonders. 
  8. ^ Anderton, Michael (August 2003). "Sudbury". [dead link]

External links[edit]