The Church of St Peter-on-the-Wall, also called the Chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall, is one of the oldest Saxon churches in the British Isles. It dates from the 7th century. It is a Grade I listed building.
The chapel is thought to be Ythanceaster which is mentioned in the Venerable Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica, which was built between 654 and 662 AD. The church is built from an assortment of Roman bricks and local stone, and built from the ruins of the Roman fort of Othona. The original church was the Anglo-Celtic Church for the East Saxons and build by St. Cedd who was ordered by Sigeberht the Good, the King of the East Saxons, to spread Christianity.
After the time of St. Cedd there was nothing recorded about the church for around 780 years. In 1442 a local clergy made a report to the Bishop of London concerning the construction of a new tower on the church, which was later burnt and removed. During the Tudor period the church was abandoned and used as a barn. The position of the barn door can still be seen on the side.
In 1920 it was restored and listed as a Grade 1 listed building. Today it is used by the Othona Community, which was founded in 1946 by Norman Motley as a Christian based community that welcomes people of all faiths and as well as atheists and agnostics.
Being such an important and historic church, it has its own website, www.bradwellchapel.org, where you can learn more. The church is always open but does have some “quiet days” for special worship by the Othona Community, so please respect these days.
Every year there is a Bradwell Pilgrimage which takes place on the first Saturday of July. The Pilgrimage starts at the Bradwell village church of St Thomas for opening worship and then follows a walk to St Peter’s Chapel to enjoy a picnic on the grass and join in the open air service. There is music, dance, stalls and refreshments, in fact everything to make this a very special day for everybody.