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Hullbridge Village History

Hullbridge St Thomas's of Canterbury Church History.Ordnance Survey Grid Ref (TQ 810 946)

High Elms Farm.

In 1843 when the tithe map was drawn up this was part of High Elms Farm which was owned by the Trustees of William Tunsten and occupied by James Harvey.

The birth of St Thomas's of Canterbury Church.

Some of the following has been extracted from the book in St Thomas's Church, with the permission of Rev., Harvey Reed

St Thomas Church was built in 1968 as a daughter Church of St Peter and St Paul, Hockley. The name was taken from a small chapel established near the River Crouch in Ferry Road during the Middle Ages.

The chapel was used by pilgrims travelling between the shrines of Thomas a Beckett at Canterbury and Our Lady of Walsingham ay Walsingham, Norfolk.
It was at Walsingham in 1061 that the blessed Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to Richeldis de Faverches the widowed wife of the Lord of the Manor of Walsingham Parva. Walsingham at the time was halfway between England's then second city, "Norwich", and the wealthy port of Kings Lynn. In the vision, which was repeated three times, the Virgin Mary appeared to Richeldis and took her to see the house in Nazereth where Gabriel announced the news of the birth of Jesus. Richeldis was asked by Mary to build an exact replica of the house at Walsingham, which is how Walsingham became known as England's Nazereth. Click here to connect to the Anglican site for the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

Excerpts from Ancient Wills
The Will of John Osborne, of Purleigh, dated the 19th of October, 1511 and proved the 4th of March, 1512 contains some interesting and curious bequests to several churches; and it is especially valuable in disclosing what I believe to be a new fact, the former existence of a chapel called the chapel of S. Thomas, at Hullbridge. Owing to the advantages of commerce which a navigable river afforded, a small population was attracted to the spot where two main roads of the Hundreds of Rochford and Chelmsford were connected by a bridge, and a hamlet grew up there at, an early date. I had often regarded it as strange and almost incredible, considering the pious care of the church of the middle ages, and in a parish whose chief manor belonged to the magnificent Convent of Barking, which also possessed the advowson, that the inhabitants located here, very far distant from the parish church, should have been without a chapel; nor indeed was it so. It is not in any way surprising that it should have been secularised and demolished in the reign of the Sixth Edward and its endowment, if any, confiscated by the state. This was the common fate of the chantries and chapels of ease. In this situation it may have served the purpose of a parochial and wayside chapel. Since the lapse of three centuries, however, its site is unknown and all memory of the chapel lost.
John Osborne, the testator above reffered to, after desiring his body to be buried in Purley churchyard and bequeathing to the high altar, says
"I bequeth to the rep'acions of the chapell of Seynt Thomas of Hullbrigge xxd.

This will was reported in the Southend Standard 12th Nov 1936. HULLBRIDGE CHANTRY MENTIONED IN OLD WILL:
That Hullbridge has a history longer than most people think and once possessed a chapel or chantry is stated in a contribution to the current issue of Hockley Parish magazine. This refers to the will of one John Osborne, of Purleigh dated October 19th, 1511, and which was proved on March 4th, 1512. This discloses the existence of a chantry or chapel dedicated to St Thomas at Hullbridge. Owing to the commercial advantages offered by a navigable river, a small population was attracted to the spot where two of the main roads of the Hundreds of Chelmsford and Rochford were connected by a bridge and a hamlet existed there at an early date. The convent of Barking, which held the manor and the advowson of Hockley, naturally did not neglect the spiritual welfare of the hamlet of Hullbridge, which is three miles distant, from the parish church. The Chapel, no doubt, shared the common fate of chantries in the reign of Edward VI and was demolished and had its endowments confiscated by the State. Now, after a lapse of nearly four centuries, the site of the chapel is unknown. The extract from the will is as follows:- "Item to the high aulter of xxd: Item I bequeath to the rep'acions of the Chapell of Seynt Thomas of Hullbrigge xxd: Item I bequesth xij: bollys of laten in Hockley Church: Item to Purley Church a pair of sensors of silver and a liftell ship of insence.

The following week November 19th 1936 the Southend Standard printed the following:- SITE OF CHANTRY AT HULLBRIDGE:
Reference was made in the Southend Standard last week, in an extract quoted from Hockley Parish Magazine, to a 16th century will in which was mentioned a chantry or chapelwhich formerly existed at Hullbridge. In it the vicar stated that the site of the chapel was unknown. A chance remark by an old resident of the village on Thursday led-to an enquiry being made of a Mr. W. Smith of Montague House, who stated that the site, which was shown in ordnance maps and documents which he produced, actually adjoined his house and land near the Anchor Inn. That a chapel existed there he did know, but it had been in disuse for very many years before he went to reside at Hullbridge over 20 years ago. The position of the chantry was shown on two plans accompanying conveyances that he possessed. On enquiry of another resident, Mr H. Gibson, who is nearly 90n years of age, he stated that the chapel was used up to 50 years ago.A former vicar of Hockley, a Rev Mr. Harding, he recalled as visiting the chapel once a week to preach. After he ceased to do so, the building was never used again and was allowed to go into disuse. Mr Smith, however conducted a Southend Standard representative over the site, which still shows feint signs of having been occupied by a building many years ago.It is however very thickly overgrown with weeds and bushes. Owing to long disuse, the porch of the chapel became dangerous to the children who often took shelter there, and the building was pulled down and the materials thereof purchased by a Mr.Finch, of Hockley about sixteen years ago. The land stated Mr. Smith, was still in the hands of Wadham College, the patrons of the living of Hockley for some years ago he endeavoured to purchase it, but the then Vicar (Rev. A. H. Gardner) refused the offer. In connection with the bridge also mentioned in the same will, it is interesting to note that a portion of the stonework is now being used as a corner stone at the Anchor Inn. Incidentally the "bollys of laten" referred to in the will were bowls made of mixed metal of yellow colour.On enquiry of Rev. M.B.Morgan Vicar of Hockley, a Southend Standard representative was informed that the site of the original chantry of Hullbridge is till unknown, residents of Hullbridge, he said, was confusing the chantry with an old mission which formerly stood at the spot indicated above. This was erected about 1842 by Rev. John Harding, curate of Hockley, and was in use as stated till fifty years ago.There were three clergyman of the name of Harding, two, father and son, as Vicars, and one as a curate Rev. John Harding.When the building became derelict not much notice was taken of it until it was pulled down. The site is vested in the hands of the Vicar and chruch wardens. The old chantry disappeared in the time of Edward VI and all trace of it has passed. As a matter of fact, the piece of land at Hullbridge is now the subjet of negotiations for the liquidation of manorial rights and measures only 18ft by 45ft.

The History of Rochford Hundred by Philip Benton dd 1867 page 299 Hockley The National School, situated near the Church, was built during the incumbency of the Rev. William Harding, in 1840 on a portion of the vicarage glebe called the Pightle, conveyed for that purpose by the vicar himself and others as trustees. There is a Chapel at Hull Bridge, in which occaisional services are performed, which is also used as a school room for the little children of that part of the parish, and for a nightschool during the winter monmths. The building was erected by subscription in 1856, chiefly through the exertions of the Rev. John Harding,
The Rev. John Harding was no relation to the vicar of that name. He was a man esteemed to the parish, and had formerly been engaged in a Missionary in Travascore. who was at the time curate in charge of the parish. About the same time the wooden Chapel on the Common, which had been built in 1842, on the ground of Thomas Merryfield, of Hockley, as a place of meeting for Dissenters, was engaged for use in connection with the Church. Divine Service has generally been performed there on Sunday evenings, alternatively with the service at Hull Bridge, and a night school has sometimes been conducted there. These arrangements were made in consequience of the church, although central, being at a considerable distance from the population on either side.

SS Peter and Paul, Hockley Brochure, Published by The Church Publishers chapel place, Ramsgate 1970" The Chapel of St Thomas of Canterbury continued its existence until the Reformation when all religious houses were disolved. In 1538, the name of St Thomas was ordered to be struck from all prayer books and in the reign of Edward VI which followed all Chantries and Chapels were closed. The Chapel in Hullbridge was demolished and the few remaining stones thereof now form part of a building erected this Century.

Birth of the Mission Hall.

In 1890 the Mission Hall was erected opposite Wells Cottages.

On the night of Feb 12th 1938 a gale blew down a large tree that stood alongside which caused critical damage resulting in the Hall being pulled down.

The inbetween years

The Birth of the Free Church.

The birth of the Free Church in 19?? is documented on page Hullbridge Free Church.

On 2nd January 1961 at the Village Hall Canon M.B.Morgan M.A. Rural Dean and Vicar of Hockley made the 2 mile journey from his home in Hockley to hold the first Church of England service in the village since the war. The service lasted for 1 hour at the cost of 5 shillings to the Village Hall Committee. Canon Morgan's son was able to give Communion to 14 of the 21 attendees.

After the service it was explained the reason no service had been since the war was because of the small numbers of villagers, but now with the large increase a service would be held in the hall on the first Sunday of every month. This was to help the villagers who made the 2 mile trip to St Peter and St Pauls on the top of Church Hill, Hockley , many of which would walk there.

For this service the congregation knelt on carpets loaned by Mrs L. Minter, Treasurer for the Village Hall Committee and sung to the accompaniment on the piano of regular church goes Mrs Shepherd. An article in Local Review January 4th 1961 can be seen Here

Birth of the new St Thomas's of Canterbury.

In ?? the vicar of St Peter and St Paul was Reverand J Desmond Curson and it is mainly through his hard work and endevours with the blessing of the Archdeacon of Southend that St Thomas's church came again into existence.

In 1967 a plot of land was purchased by the Church of England from Mrs Minter and the church was built by Foyle and Marven Ltd., for the approx., cost of £ 8,000. The building, situated in Thorpedene Avenue, was a single storied building, T shaped, and consisted of a church, meeting hall, kitchen and toilets. The entrance was at the side with a large white cross placed above between the eaves.

Clipping taken from Southend Standard showing the church after it has been 
	 								 opened.There is no spire at this time The newly opened St Thomas's Church in Hullbridge. The original building had no spire and a car park at the back.

On 12 October 1968 the church of St Thomas of Canterbury was dedicated by the 1st Bishop of Bradwell, Venerable William Welch.
Rev., George Rothey officiated the first 6 months and provided a Sunday service and Eucharists on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings.

On 21st June 1969 the Reverand Edward Gallon and his wife moved into the newly purchased Vicarage at ?? Ferry Road and became St Thomas's first full time resident vicar and as an assistant priest of Hockley. He was followed by:-

Several developments of the church have taken place over the the years.
In the beginning the church looked more like, in the words of Kim Venn an architect used by the Chelmsford Diocese to inspect the churches of the area. "A Community Center". Local Parishioners had long wanted to improve the visual impact of the church by adding a spire, but several problems needed to be addressed. The first was the cost and secondly was the existing structure of the foundations and roof neither of which were strong enough to withstand a conventional spire structure.

On 22nd Nov 1994 having saved £22,000 and with the considerable help of Mr Brian Weekes St Thomas's was made to look like a church when a glass-fibre spire was mounted on its roof.

Cutting from 24th November 1974 District Newspaper showing two pictures
		 							of a fibreglass spire being mounted onto the roof of St Thomas's church. The spire 
		 							was hoisted in a cradle using a mobile crane. Cutting from 24th November 1974 District Newspaper pictures of a fibreglass spire being mounted onto the roof of St Thomas's church.
Cutting from 30th November 1974 Evening Echo two pictures
		 							of a fibreglass spire being mounted onto the roof of St Thomas's church. The spire 
		 							was hoisted in a cradle using a mobile crane. Cutting from 30th November 1974 Evening Echo

Acknowledgement is made to the following contributions that this history was compiled from:-