Lambourne: Nonconformity

Pages 83-84

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

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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. 1) 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. 2) 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. 3)

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. 4) By 1847 the church was self-supporting. (fn. 5) 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. 6) 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. 7) 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. 8) The deeds of the Abridge church had been acquired by one of the treasurers of the E.C.U. (fn. 9) Knight remained until 1860, when he left, apparently in unhappy circumstances. (fn. 10) The church was placed under the superintendence of that at Epping, and there was confidence that it would revive. (fn. 11) The E.C.U. was making an annual grant amounting to £40 in 1859-60 and £37 10s. in 1860-1. (fn. 12)

The church remained attached to Epping until 1881. (fn. 13) In 1861 new pews were installed; the Sunday school numbered about 30. (fn. 14) A room had been rented at Lambourne End and a Sunday evening congregation of 30-40 met there. (fn. 15) In 1869 it was reported that 'a Spanish Protestant' was holding a bible class in connexion with the church. (fn. 16) 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. 17) A. M. Kemsley, a missioner who worked at Moreton, took the Sunday school at Abridge in 1876. (fn. 18) 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. 19) 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. 20) This was not done, but the grant was reduced to £20. (fn. 21) In 1880 the church had 11 members, an average congregation of 90, and a Sunday school of 100 with 6 teachers. (fn. 22) The expenses in connexion with it amounted to about £40. (fn. 23)

In 1881 the church was removed from association with Epping and placed under the charge of Chigwell Row. (fn. 24) By this time the cottage service at Lambourne End appears to have ceased; (fn. 25) it had been thriving in 1873, when it had become financially self-supporting. (fn. 26) From 1886 the Abridge church was included in the London Congregational Union. (fn. 27) It was apparently given up by the Congregationalists about 1905. (fn. 28) It is now used as a parish room. It is a plain building of gault brick.

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. 29) 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.


  • 1. Wesleyan Methodist Mag. 1833, p. 729.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. White's Dir. Essex (1848); E.R.O., D/CT 202; see below.
  • 4. Essex Cong. Union Rep. 1847.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid. 1850.
  • 7. Ibid. 1858.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Ibid. The treasurers were Isaac Perry and W. C. Wells.
  • 10. Essex Congr. Union Rep. 1860.
  • 11. Essex Congr. Union Report, 1860.
  • 12. Ibid. 1861, 1862. The grant was kept up for many years after 1861. It was £25 p.a. in 1866-79.
  • 13. Essex Congr. Union Rep. 1881.
  • 14. Ibid. 1861.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Ibid. 1869. There is no later mention of this man.
  • 17. Essex Congr. Union Rep. 1870.
  • 18. Ibid. 1876.
  • 19. Ibid.
  • 20. Ibid. 1879.
  • 21. Ibid. 1879-81.
  • 22. Ibid. 1881.
  • 23. Ibid.
  • 24. Ibid.
  • 25. Ibid. 1881-2; Congr. Year Bk. 1879, 1880. It is possible that the service continued outside the Congregational Union.
  • 26. Essex Congr. Union Rep. 1873.
  • 27. Ibid. 1885.
  • 28. Congr. Year Bk. 1905, 1906. A Congregational chapel is listed in Kelly's Dir. as late as 1914, but this is perhaps an error.
  • 29. Inf. from Mrs. Brewster of Abridge.