The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Essex
Though slightly outside the remit of Heritage Action, we thought this feature appropriate, given the time of year and the chequered history of this most ancient and venerable building. The 7th century Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex, is a simple but sacred place ‘for all faiths and none’.
“The Chapel is assumed to be that of “Ythanceaster” (Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica), 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.”*
Stepping into its cool interior today one is struck by the bare flint walls that tower up to a steeply pitched roof space. At the far end is a simple altar incorporating three stones; one from Lindisfarne on Holy Island, another from the Island of Iona, and the third from Lastingham on the Yorkshire Moors.** Above the altar is a simple painting of The Passion. Look into the corners either side of the altar though and you will see little offerings of stones, petals and mistletoe. Nearby is the Othona Community, “…an open Christian Community, welcoming and involving people of all faiths and none.”***
Happy Ēostre from all at Heritage Action.