Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Brentwood: Edwardian Postcards (3)

“On the south side of the High Street, within the garden of a private house and surrounded by trees, can be seen portions of the original chapel, consisting of the tower and part of the walls of St Osyth, erected in 1221. About 1900 it was fenced in on the street side at the expense of Mr Christopher John Hume Tower, J.P. Until the middle of the eighteenth century the chapel was still used for divine service” [Clunn, p151].

“Notwithstanding the former importance of Brentwood as a coaching stage, and as a market and assize town, it was ecclesiastically only a hamlet of South Weald, which manor was granted to Waltham Abbey by Edward the Confessor and Harold. After the Conquest it passed into the hands of the monks of St Osyth’s priory, who in 1221 founded here a chapel in honour of Thomas a Becket” [Beckett, p215].

Later the house was pulled down. The old church became a garden and behind was a large Odeon cinema. This gave way, in the mid 1970s, to a shopping precinct and multi-screen cinema, known as Chapel High and a multi storey car park. New Road, running down the side of the chapel, ceased to be a through road, and South Street, off of Coptfold Road, was rerouted. The cinema later closed and the architecturally unsuccessful precinct given a complete makeover and renamed the Baytree Centre.

Clunn, Harold. The Face of the Home Counties (Simpkin Marshall, London. 1937)

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