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Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England


Notes: Brief history of Brightlingsea United Church, Chapel Road
Ordnance Survey number TM092169
The following document was prepared by Roy Alden, 2005

The UNITED CHURCH is the result of a gradual amalgamation of several Non-Conformist Churches over the past 70 years. The latest 'coming together' was in 1980 when the Methodist Church, Chapel Road, and the United Reformed Church, John Street, joined to form one church and agreed to use the Methodist Church building. The URC in John Street became a printing business until the building was again put up for sale on the open market in January 2003.

The main two branches of the amalgamation, Methodism and Congregationalism, can trace their local roots back to about 1800, but are not officially recorded on the Religious Census 1829. However, original letters do exist. The 1851 Religious Census can be seen, on film, in the Local Studies Library, Colchester.

Concerning the Wesleyan Methodist branch: there is no chapel or minister listed for Brightlingsea in the Wesleyan Deed of Declaration 1784, though the chapel congregation is thought to have started in1780. It is known that services were held before 1805 in a thatched cottage in Mill Street and later in School Yard. In 1805 a wooden chapel 45' x 55' was erected on Hearse Field (as it was then called) and extended to 70' x 60' during 1826. The new chapel (the present one) was completed in 1843 and provided a seating capacity for 380 people. In 1861 the Wesleyans built a school on ground adjacent to the church and, although the school remained the property of the Methodist Church, the Essex County Council took over the funding and organisation of the school for educational purposes from 1902 until 1967, when it was sold for use as a factory. The Brightlingsea Primitive Methodists are recorded, on the 1857 'Preachers Plan', as having 'Camp Meetings' and 'Open Air Meetings' and later a Mr Elsden was given money to rent rooms for preaching in during1862. The first church building was situated on a site next to Hall Cut. In 1902 they erected a larger church in Ladysmith Avenue. Opened during the year that Edward VII was crowned, the church was appropriately nicknamed 'Coronation Church'. However, it was always known to the locals as 'Gooseberry Chapel', due to one person selling gooseberries to raise money for the building. Unfortunately, this building was built over underground springs and the church members were continually raising monies for structural repairs caused by subsidence. In 1932 the various branches of Methodism were 'reunited' at national level and the Brightlingsea 'Wesleyans' and the 'Primitives' joined in union during the 1930s at the Church in Chapel Road, this Church being the larger of the two and in a better state of repair.

The Congregationalists were born out of the Reformation and were originally called 'Separatists', and later re-named 'Independents', only to change their name again around the end of the 19th century to 'Congregationalists'. Joining with the 'Presbyterians', on a national level, during 1972, the union formed the 'United Reformists', (United Reformed Church or URC). In 1833 the Brightlingsea Independents, a branch of the Independents, Lion Walk, Colchester, built a church, constructed of wood, in John Street. (Hog Lane, as it was then called). This building was moved about 40m down John Street just before the new brick Chapel was completed in 1865, and served as a Sunday School for many years. The first service held in the new church was on Monday 6th May. This wooden building was eventually moved to the waterside and used as a sail loft, eventually becoming the University of Essex Sailing Club House, around 1970. The Congregationalists, having changed their name from Independents, purchased a parcel of land in the High Street opposite Jacob's Hall in 1897, with a view to building a Sunday School and a new Church on the same ground. The Sunday School, which was designed in the shape of a cross, was completed at the end of that year and served for that purpose until the outbreak of war in1939.

Source: Methodist Church Website


Location : Latitude: 51.8139645, Longitude: 1.032599600000026


Matches 1 to 6 of 6

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Christened    Person ID 
1 Goff, Captain William Marrington  31 Jul 1842Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England I582
2 Woolvett, Edward  1 Sep 1850Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England I427
3 Woolvett, Henry  13 Oct 1843Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England I325
4 Woolvett, Henry  13 Feb 1848Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England I324
5 Woolvett, Sarah Ann  6 Feb 1842Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England I323
6 Woolvett, William Thomas  9 Aug 1840Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England I322


Matches 1 to 3 of 3

   Family    Married    Family ID 
1 Wenlock / Gray  29 Dec 1859Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England F66
2 Woolvett / Harris  7 Aug 1848Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England F15
3 Woolvett / Letch  10 Oct 1839Wesleyan Chapel, Brightlingsea, Essex, England F116