Name/TitleChapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex
About this objectThe oldest extant church building in England and the only Celtic church still intact, St Peter-on-the-Wall was built around 654 by Cedd, a monk who had been brought up in the Irish Christian settlement on Lindisfarne. According to Bede's account, he was sent first to Mercia to convert the Middle Angles, but his success was limited. He then went to the East Saxon kingdom where a Roman Christian mission had been established by St Augustine of Canterbury in 597, again with limited success. Cedd established Celtic monasteries at Tilbury and at Bradwell-on-Sea and caried out baptisms at Rendlsham [EXH17]. At Bradwell, building materials from the Roman fort were used for the new monastery and church buildings.
Only the nave of the church remains today, but the outlines of the eastern apse, and of the north and south porticus can be seen on the ground. It was in the Celtic rather than Roman style, with a tall nave with no side chambers, and a rectangular chancels. The monastery was destroyed during Danish raids in the 9th century.
Cedd returned as a Bishop to the monastery he founded at Lastingham in his native Northumberland. He was buried there on his death in 664, after the Synod of Whitby at which it was agreed to adopt the Roman calendar and practices of the Roman church in place of the Celtic ones. Christianity remained precarious here for several decades.
Subject and Association KeywordsArrivals
Subject and Association DescriptionLearn more: Bede 1990; Secker 2019; Taylor 1965: pp. 91–3.
Credit LinePhotograph by John Falconer.
Object numberEXH16: St Peter-on-the-Wall