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All Saints Great Braxted

All Saints Great Braxted

Featured Church - THE SIDE CHAPEL,  Stanway, St Albrights

One Saturday in the Autumn of 2004 some members of the PCC met in the church and wondered how they might spend the next couple of hours before lunch and a pint in the pub. It was possibly the Rector who suggested that it might be a good idea to try and sort out the vestry. Let’s give him the credit! For about 25 years, the vestry had been used as a repository for anything that could not be used in the church, but looked as if it might be useful one day.

THE SIDE CHAPEL,  Stanway, St AlbrightsA curtain separated the vestry from the south aisle so that the congregation could only guess at the mysteries concealed from their view. The Flower Ladies used it, the Cleaning Teams kept their kit there,  as did the Altar Party It was an unsatisfactory arrangement but it had been like that for twenty odd years so it could stay like that for a bit longer….couldn’t it?


A trip or two to the tip removed the worst of the rubbish,chairs were moved back to the parish rooms, the curtain was removed and suddenly therewas light!  However, what to do with the new space created? Someone suggested that the area would make a perfectly splendid chapel area, a Lady Chapel perhaps.

The late Mary Wildman left St Albright’s some money in her will. Mary is still remembered with huge affection, and it seemed appropriate that her memory should be perpetuated in some tangible manner. A moveable altar has been purchased with her bequest and stands against the organ. The altar is moved to the front of the Chancel for the Eucharist celebrated on the first Sunday in the month. Have a good look at it sometime and remember a lovely lady.

Nine chairs would be needed and, once the idea was proposed, the subscription list was rapidly filled. A brass plate is fixed to the back of each chair to acknowledge the donor. Some inscriptions are very personal and may perplex the curious who wish to know the origin of these gifts. Who were these people? Why did they do this? What was the thinking behind each inscription? The answer will be found in the terrier, a document of great historical interest and importance.

Sometime in the next few months a service will be held to rededicate this Chapel. In the meantime it is used on a regular basis to celebrate Communion Services for smaller congregations, such as the monthly Ladies’ Fellowship. For now, with light flooding into the church as Gilbert Scott envisaged it in the middle of the nineteenth century, and the improved acoustics, we should celebrate the restoration of this beautiful area of our cherished church and thank those who have helped to furnish this oasis of worship.

Tony Windsor