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 church buildings in England. It is the 19th oldest building in England and is still in regular use. The building dates from the 7th century.
The Chapel is assumed to be that of "Ythanceaster" (Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica 3.22), originally constructed as an Anglo-Celtic Church for the East Saxons in AD 654 by St Cedd, astride the ruins of the abandoned Roman fort of Othona. The current structure was most likely built around 660–662, 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 this Chapel and probably others too. Following the death of St 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.
In 1920, it was restored and reconsecrated as a chapel; it achieved Grade I listed status in 1959. The Othona Community, located five minutes walk away, generally uses the Chapel twice a day for its short, informal acts of worship. Founded in 1946 by Norman Motley, Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill, 1956-1980, this Christian-based community is open to people of all faiths and none.
St Peter-on-the-Wall in fiction
- The novel The Nearest FarAway Place by Ray Crowther (ISBN 0-9541110-0-1) has several scenes based at the Chapel.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea.|
- Official website for the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall
- The Othona Community
- St Peter's Chapel, Bradwell-on-sea, Unlocking Essex's Past, Essex County Council