Last Saturday (4 July) was the annual Bradwell Pilgrimage. A number of folk went from Thurrock’s churches to walk the 2 miles from St Thomas’ Parish Church, Bradwell-on-Sea, to the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall.
The Chapel is England’s oldest church and the only example of Celtic-influenced architecture in the southeast of the country, famously founded by St Cedd in 654AD, having sailed down the coast from the Northumbrian community at Lindisfarne the previous year.
The event began at 11am with a short service in the grounds of St Thomas’, led by the Bishop of Bradwell, The Rt Rev Dr Laurie Green. The multitude of pilgrims from all over the CTEEL (Churches Together in Essex & East London) region thenp proceeded along the road down towards the chapel. For the last stretch of track, silence was maintained. Once at St Peter’s, a service devised by the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers) took place, and there was the symbolic passing of the ‘Bradwell Crook’ from Bishop Derek to Bishop Laurie.
John Espin – nearing St Peter’s Chapel
During the afternoon, there were various other observances taking place around the chapel and over at the Othona Community which is nearby. One of the Bar’N’Bus buses was there! It was helping out with the youth and children’s programme. There were tents and displays to look at, including a number of Saxon re-enactments. Things concluded at 3.15pm with a service devised by the United Reformed Church.
St Thomas’ RC Church, Grays, enjoying the shade
This was Tim Harrold’s first Bradwell Pilgrimage, and he went with John Espin, fellow traveller connected with The Old Tennis Court Community in Grays. They bumped into a number of folk from such local fellowships as Grays Baptist Church, St Thomas’ RC Church, Grays, and St Margaret’s, Stanford-le-Hope. They also spoke with Revs Laurence & Margaret Whitford, formerly of St Catherine’s in East Tilbury, another old stomping ground of St Cedd.
An early East Saxon Christian tries to convert Pilgrim John!
and the best pint of Adnams – ever!
The walk back into town was a long hot slog of a marathon, exasperated by the relentless searing sun beating, bearing, blaring down on the sweating tarmac… But soon forgotten over a cool pint of refreshing real ale in the local inn!
short walk away. It is well worth the visit – it is a unique ‘thin place’ and which has its own spiritual experience. The King’s Head not only serves cask ales but also excellent food. Next year’s pilgrimage is on Saturday 3 July.
A view from the East Saxon’s chapel-in-a-tent