Chapel of St. Peter on the Wall – Bradwell-on-Sea, England - Atlas Obscura

Chapel of St. Peter on the Wall

Bradwell-on-Sea, England

Constructed during the 7th century this is one of the oldest largely intact Christian churches in England.  

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A simple-looking church, the Chapel of St. Peter On the Wall (ad Murum) is located in Bradwell-on-Sea on the Dengie Peninsula of Essex, United Kingdom. The church’s name comes from the story that St. Peter sat on the wall of the abandoned Roman fort, Othona, which the church was founded on.

The chapel is thought to have been constructed by Bishop Cedd (later St. Cedd) in 654 for the King of the East Saxons. Roman bricks and stones were used in its construction, and the sturdy walls are more than two feet thick, necessary for helping keep out the biting wind.

After Cedd died of the plague, St Peter’s became part of the Diocese of London and completely disappeared from church records until the 1400s. In its long history, the church has survived fires, King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, being used as a cowshed by resourceful locals, and heavy bombing in the area during World War II. 

During the 1920s, this special chapel was restored and reconsecrated. In the 1950s it became a Grade I Listed building, gaining the protection to never be used as a barn again.

Even today it’s still used for weekly church services and is also as a pilgrimage site. Some pilgrims and ramblers even make the 45-mile journey from Chipping Ongar, Essex along St. Peter’s Way. It’s a beautiful journey surrounded by wild places and steeped in history.

This ancient building has survived wars, the ravages of weather, the North Sea, and religious reformation. Yet, it still sits quietly, virtually unchanged at the edge of the world.

Know Before You Go

Bradwell on Sea is the nearest village with minimal public transport. Eastlands Farm is the nearest residence to the chapel. Signs advise no driving onto or parking on their property. Park at the end of the road and walk. The walk is flat and not long but the gravel path may not be easily accessible to all. Note that the nearby Othona Community (communal, Christian, friendly) visit and hold services in the chapel. The chapel is always open.