Stanford Rivers: Protestant nonconformity

Page 218

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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On 20 October 1819 a small place of worship, originally a cottage, was opened for the use of dissenters. Sermons were preached at the opening service by the Revd. James Stratten of Paddington and the Revd. Edward Andrews of Walworth. A Sunday school was attached to the chapel. Arrangements had been made for the supply of preachers from Hoxton Academy. (fn. 1)

On 27 June 1820 a new chapel, specially built and seating 300, was opened in place of the converted cottage. Stratten and Andrews were again the preachers at the opening. Two local residents had each contributed £100 towards the cost of the chapel. Supplies were still being sent by Hoxton. (fn. 2)

In 1827 the site, chapel, and vestry, with a stable and outhouses, were conveyed to trustees, among whom were Stratten, then of Maida Vale, and Thomas Kingsbury of Stanford Rivers. The trust deed stipulated that the buildings should be used for 'a congregation of Protestant Dissenters usually denominated Calvinists of the Independent Denomination'. (fn. 3)

In 1829 the congregation numbered 150 and there was a minister, William Temple. (fn. 4) There was a minister in 1846-7 and another in 1850-3. (fn. 5) About 1839 David Livingstone preached in this chapel while a student at Chipping Ongar. He is said to have suffered from stage-fright and to have been unable to complete his sermon. (fn. 6) From about 1854 the chapel was served mainly by the ministers of the Congregational church at Chipping Ongar. (fn. 7) Isaac Jennings, formerly the minister at Ongar, had charge at Stanford Rivers during his retirement in 1863. (fn. 8)

A new trust was appointed in 1877. (fn. 9) In 1904 there were 34 Sunday-school children and 2 teachers. (fn. 10) The chapel was burnt down in 1927. To supplement the insurance money of £700 a fund was raised to rebuild the chapel as a memorial to David Livingstone. The response to the appeal was disappointing, less than £400 being received, and the scheme was not carried through. (fn. 11)

The chapel was a rectangular stucco building with a pedimented front. (fn. 12) It stood opposite the former Ongar Union workhouse at Little End. The site is still walled and has the original cast iron early-19thcentury gate piers.

The present rectory, formerly the Chapel House, adjoins the chapel site and may have been built in connexion with it. It was originally a small house of gault brick, probably built in the first quarter of the 19th century. Additions in the same style were made about 1948.


  • 1. Evangelical Mag. xxvii, 517.
  • 2. Ibid. xxviii, 390.
  • 3. Essex Congr. Union, Trust Deeds.
  • 4. E.R.O., Q/CR 3/2.
  • 5. Congr. Year Bks. 1846-53.
  • 6. E.R. xxii, 90.
  • 7. Congr. Year Bks. 1854 f.
  • 8. Ibid. 1863.
  • 9. Essex Congr. Union, Trust Deeds.
  • 10. Congr. Year Bk. 1904.
  • 11. Char. Com: files.
  • 12. See plate facing p. 113.