Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall

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Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall
St Peters Chapel.jpg
Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall is located in England
Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall
Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall
51°44′07″N 0°56′24″E / 51.73536°N 0.93994°E / 51.73536; 0.93994Coordinates: 51°44′07″N 0°56′24″E / 51.73536°N 0.93994°E / 51.73536; 0.93994
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
Functional statuschapel
Heritage designationlisted Grade I
Other dimensionswall thickness 2.5 feet (0.76 m)[1]
DioceseDiocese of Chelmsford
Parishlooked after by the parish church of St Thomas Bradwell-on-Sea

The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea, is a Christian church dating from the years 660-662 and among the oldest largely intact churches in England. It is in regular use by the nearby Othona Community, in addition to Church of England services. It is a Grade I listed building


Interior view

According to Bede (who wrote his history in the early 8th century), a 'city' named Ythanceaster existed on the River Penta.[2] The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall was almost certainly originally built by Bishop Cedd in 654.[1] It was an Anglo-Celtic church for the East Saxons, set astride the ruins of the abandoned Roman fort of Othona. The current structure was most likely built around 654–662, incorporating the Roman bricks and stones. In 653 Cedd travelled south from Lindisfarne to spread Christianity at the behest of Sigeberht the Good, then King of the East Saxons, and, having been ordained as a bishop, returned the next year in order to build the Chapel, and probably others too. Following the death of Cedd in October 664 from plague, the Chapel became part of the Diocese of London.[3]

From the side

No further record exists of the Chapel being used 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.[4]

Current use[edit]

The Chapel belongs to Chelmsford Cathedral and is looked after by the Chaplain, the Revd Steven Poss, Rector of the parish church of St Thomas Bradwell-on-Sea, and members of the church. Regular public services are held in the chapel each week with a Thursday morning Communion service at 9am. Special services are held at Christmas and Easter. In the summer evening services are held each Sunday in July and August at 6:30pm.

The Chapel and adjacent field are the home of the Bradwell Pilgrimage, held on the first Saturday in July. The procession starts at the Parish Church of St Thomas and the pilgrims walk to the Chapel of St Peter's, where services and events are held.

The Chapel is also used by the nearby Othona Community. Founded in 1946 by Norman Motley, rector of St Michael, Cornhill, 1956-1980, this Christian-based community is open to people of all faiths and none.[5]

In 2018 the Chapel was the location for two music videos by the boys' choir Libera.[6]

View southward along the coast near the chapel


  1. ^ a b Historic England 2012.
  2. ^ Bede 2008, p. 146.
  3. ^ The Fort of Othona and the Chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex (booklet available at the Chapel itself)
  4. ^ "Chapel of St Peter on the Wall". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  5. ^ "The Othona Community's Beginnings". Othona. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  6. ^ In Paradisum (solo: Rocco Tesei) and Lacrymosa (solo: Alex Gula and Leo Barron); Libera Official, 2018 (YouTube).


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]