Dedham: Nonconformity

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.

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'Dedham: Nonconformity', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001), pp. 183. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

. "Dedham: Nonconformity", in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001) 183. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

. "Dedham: Nonconformity", A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe, (London, 2001). 183. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,


Apart from one recusant reported in 1596 there was no Roman Catholicism recorded at Dedham until 1871 when a priest served a private chapel at Upper Park. (fn. 1) That chapel was presumably the one licensed for marriages in 1881, but was not recorded again. (fn. 2)

Conventicles were held at Dedham by John Fairfax, ejected minister of Barking (Suff.), in 1669, and by a schoolmaster in 1677. (fn. 3) They were presumably Presbyterian or Independent, as was the congregation to which Samuel Brinsley or Brinley was licensed to preach in 1672. (fn. 4) At least one of the two houses licensed for worship in 1706 was owned by a Presby- terian. (fn. 5)

A weekly Quaker Meeting in 1675, which attracted people from the Horkesleys, Boxted, and Manningtree, (fn. 6) seems to have been short- lived. An elder of a General Baptist church at Dedham attended the general assembly of General Baptists in 1692 and 1704, but there is no later record of the church and several Baptists joined the established church in the early 18th century. (fn. 7)

Mary Blomfield's house at Dedham was licensed as an Independent meeting house in 1733. (fn. 8) In 1738 John and Henry Blomfield bought part of Frog meadow and conveyed it to trustees for a meeting house. A chapel was built the following year, and a pastor, Bezaleel Blomfield, appointed. (fn. 9) The chapel, which was plastered and had a hipped roof, had a two-storeyed, three-bayed classical front with pedimented doorcases in the outer bays. (fn. 10) Presumably most of the estimated 250 dissenters in the parish in 1810 belonged to that church, which had a congregation of c. 250 in 1829. By 1841 it had 400 members. (fn. 11) On census Sunday 1851 the church, which had space for 400, was said to have attracted lower than usual congregations of 201 in the morning, 279 in the afternoon, and 145 in the evening. (fn. 12) The growth of the congregation and the poor condition of the building led to the demolition of the chapel in 1871 and its replacement by a larger building. (fn. 13) The church thrived in the later 19th century and earlier 20th, but congregations shrank in the 1960s and 1970s, and it closed c. 1984. (fn. 14)

The large red brick chapel is in 13th-century Gothic style with lancet and rose windows. There is a small bell tower at the north end of the aisle. Quatrefoil roof lights and two new floors were installed as part of its conversion to a craft gallery in 1984.

The adjacent manse is a timber-framed and plastered house of two storeys and attics built c. 1740. It was restored c. 1925. (fn. 15)

In 1767 the vicar reported one Methodist in the parish. (fn. 16) By 1841 a Primitive Methodist chapel stood on East Lane. (fn. 17) The congregation moved to a new chapel on Long Road between 1855 and 1863. (fn. 18) The simple red brick chapel, with Gothic windows and white brick decoration on the front, was still open in 2000.


  • 1. Cal. Assize Rec. Essex, Eliz. I, p. 461; P.R.O., RG 10/1693.
  • 2. Lond. Gaz. 20 May 1881, no. 2634.
  • 3. Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 189; G. L. Turner, Original Rec. Early Nonconf. i. 91; ii. 927; E.R. lvii. 63.
  • 4. Calamy Revised, 75; Turner, Original Rec. Early Nonconf. ii. 927; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1672, 234, 237, 240.
  • 5. E.R.O., Q/SBb 35/1-2, 40/1.
  • 6. S. H. G. Fitch, Colch. Quakers, 20-1.
  • 7. E.R.O., T/Z 8, no. 8; ibid. D/P 26/1/2, pp. 92, 103.
  • 8. Guildhall MS. 9184/1; E.R. liii. 115.
  • 9. Rendall, Dedham Described and Deciphered, 7, 31-2; E.R.O., D/NC 29/1, p. 1.
  • 10. Rendall, Dedham Described, plate between p. 30 and 31.
  • 11. Lamb. Pal. Libr., Randolph papers 10; ibid. Terrick papers 14; E.R.O., Q/CR 3/1/96; Q/CR 3/2/40; ibid. D/ACM 12.
  • 12. P.R.O., HO 129/8/205.
  • 13. E.R.O., D/NC 29/1, pp. 3-4; Lond. Gaz. 12 Aug. 1873, no. 3776; Foundation stone in chapel dated 26 Oct. 1871.
  • 14. E.R.O., D/NC 29/9.
  • 15. Ibid. D/NC 29/5; Dept. of Env., Buildings List.
  • 16. Lamb. Pal. Libr., Terrick papers 14.
  • 17. E.R.O., D/CT 113.
  • 18. Ibid. D/NM 19/1/1, 3; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1855); Jones, Hist. Dedham, 142; Methodist statistical records, 1990: reference kindly supplied by R. M. Kaye.