Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

St. Peter-ad-Murum Church (Bradwell-juxta-Mare)

St. Peter-ad-Murum is one of the most astonishing survivals in England.

It stands in a remote spot by the North Sea at Bradwell-juxta-Mare, on the Dengie peninsula in Essex, where it has stood since about 650 AD.

St. Cedd was sent from Lindisfarne to evangelise the East Saxons, and built himself a church on the site of the Roman fort of Othona. It was built across the walls of the fort, thus acquiring its name, sometimes Anglicised as St. Peter-on-the-Wall.

This is the church that still stands today, which could fairly be described as England's oldest cathedral still in existence.

Over the centuries, the village moved Westwards, and the mediaeval St. Thomas' Church was built to serve the villagers in their new location.

St. Peter's drifted out of common knowledge, serving a number of puposes, including that of a lighthouse, and was for many years used by local farmers as a barn.

It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that it was recognised as being an extraordinarily ancient church. It was reconsecrated in 1920, and has regular services, being also the destination for an annual pilgrimage on the first Saturday in July.

The chapel altar was consecrated in 1985 jointly by the Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford and the Catholic Bishop of Brentwood.

The supporting pillar contains three stones representing places of importance to St. Cedd's ministry. The first is a gift from Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, where he had trained under St. Aidan. The second is a gift from Iona, where the Celtic mission to Britain had begun. The third is a gift from Lastingham in Yorkshire, where St. Cedd founded a monastery at which he died of the plague in 664.

Few people from outside Essex have visited St. Peter-ad-Murum, but it can fairly be said to be a wonderful experience.

Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby, an Essex man who is now based in Leicester, sometimes includes it on his Coach Trips, which of course gives the possibility of a visit.

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