On 2 July 1833 a Wesleyan chapel was opened
at Abridge. Sermons were
preached at the first services
by the Revd. J. T. Yeates of
Romford and the Revd. T. R. Fisher of Hammersmith.
The chapel was estimated to accommodate 150. The
original cost was £270 with ground freehold; £70 was
raised by private subscriptions and collections at the
opening. The chapel was in the North East London
Circuit. (fn. 10) An account of the opening made bold claims
as to the beneficial results already achieved by Methodist preaching in Abridge. 'This village, from its exceeding wretchedness and open profanity, was usually
called the Little Sodom; but by the introduction of
Methodist preaching its moral character is entirely
changed.' (fn. 11) The chapel did not remain Wesleyan for
long. There were no other Wesleyan churches near
and pulpit supply must have been difficult. About
1844 the chapel was taken over for Congregational use. (fn. 12)
In 1844 the Essex Congregational Union helped the
Revd. T. Hill of Chigwell Row to establish a church at
Abridge, using the building previously erected for the
Wesleyans. (fn. 13) By 1847 the church was self-supporting. (fn. 14)
In 1850 it was superintended by a Mr. Hanley of London; there were 28 members and many adherents: 'the
little church is well filled.' (fn. 15) Soon after this a Mr.
Knight worked at Abridge as the agent of the Country
Towns Mission. In 1858 he reported that the village
was still known as Little Sodom. (fn. 16) In that year the
Essex Congregational Union made a grant to Knight,
who was also preaching at Lambourne End and Bourne
Bridge in Stapleford Abbots. (fn. 17) The deeds of the
Abridge church had been acquired by one of the treasurers of the E.C.U. (fn. 18) Knight remained until 1860,
when he left, apparently in unhappy circumstances. (fn. 19) The church was placed under the superintendence of
that at Epping, and there was confidence that it would
revive. (fn. 20) The E.C.U. was making an annual grant
amounting to £40 in 1859-60 and £37 10s. in
1860-1. (fn. 21)
The church remained attached to Epping until
1881. (fn. 22) In 1861 new pews were installed; the Sunday
school numbered about 30. (fn. 23) A room had been rented
at Lambourne End and a Sunday evening congregation
of 30-40 met there. (fn. 24) In 1869 it was reported that
'a Spanish Protestant' was holding a bible class in connexion with the church. (fn. 25) In 1870 the cottage service
at Lambourne End was transferred to the care of the
church at Chigwell Row; about 80 now attended the
service. (fn. 26) A. M. Kemsley, a missioner who worked at
Moreton, took the Sunday school at Abridge in 1876. (fn. 27) The church was flourishing at this time: in 1877 new
classrooms were built at a cost of £25, all of which had
been paid off during the year. (fn. 28) In 1879, however, the
E.C.U. considered withdrawing its annual grant of
£25 because there was an evangelical ministry at the
anglican chapel in Abridge. (fn. 29) This was not done, but
the grant was reduced to £20. (fn. 30) In 1880 the church
had 11 members, an average congregation of 90, and
a Sunday school of 100 with 6 teachers. (fn. 31) The expenses
in connexion with it amounted to about £40. (fn. 32)
In 1881 the church was removed from association
with Epping and placed under the charge of Chigwell
Row. (fn. 33) By this time the cottage service at Lambourne
End appears to have ceased; (fn. 34) it had been thriving in
1873, when it had become financially self-supporting. (fn. 35)
From 1886 the Abridge church was included in the
London Congregational Union. (fn. 36) It was apparently
given up by the Congregationalists about 1905. (fn. 37) It is
now used as a parish room. It is a plain building of
The Evangelical Free Church was started about
1923 when a Mr. White from Woodford held services
first in the Parish Room (former Congregational
Chapel) and later with a tent and caravan. In 1924
the church was built. (fn. 38) It is a wooden building with a
cement-rendered front and it stands set back on the
south side of the London road.
At Augusta Cottages, near Lambourne End, there
is a small wooden hut called Emmanuel Chapel, probably not more than 50 years old.
Wesleyan Methodist Mag. 1833, p. 729.
White's Dir. Essex (1848); E.R.O., D/CT 202; see below.
Essex Cong. Union Rep. 1847.
||Ibid. The treasurers were Isaac Perry and W. C. Wells.
Essex Congr. Union Rep. 1860.
Essex Congr. Union Report, 1860.
||Ibid. 1861, 1862. The grant was kept up for many years after 1861. It was £25 p.a. in 1866-79.
Essex Congr. Union Rep. 1881.
||Ibid. 1869. There is no later mention of this man.
Essex Congr. Union Rep. 1870.
||Ibid. 1881-2; Congr. Year Bk. 1879, 1880. It is possible that the service continued outside the Congregational Union.
Essex Congr. Union Rep. 1873.
Congr. Year Bk. 1905, 1906. A Congregational chapel is listed in Kelly's Dir. as late as 1914, but this is perhaps an error.
||Inf. from Mrs. Brewster of Abridge.