Archives Edwin Roberts:
Churches

Warrington, Lancashire and Cheshire
London
Billericay and Essex
Billericay Evangelical Free Church (previously the Gospel Hall)
Billericay Methodists
Billericay Christian Brethren

Warrington

London

The parents of Henry Herbert Moss (Henry Herbert and his wife, Ethel, were, for many years, associated first with Packington Street Methodist Church and then with the Gospel Hall in Billericay.
Jump to 1959

Jump to 1959

"George Colborn Moss, father of George, Harry, Arthur and Grace Irene Moss" (hand). Print: From the photographic studio of James Brown, 41 Oxford Street, corner of Portland Street and 5 Lower Mosley Street, Manchester. "Grace Ann Moss, mother of George, Harry, Arthur and Grace Irene Moss." (hand). Print: Claremont Park. S. Wolstenholme 21 Church Street, Blackpool. Soul Licensee of the "Ferranti-Turner" patent process also licensee of the Lambertype and Cromotype processes.

H.H. Moss's father: Mr George C. Moss, 37 Newington Green Road, London, N. died (probably 5.40 am) on Wednesday 20.1.1897. On Thursday 30.6.1897, Henry Herbert wrote in his diary "Wrote letter to dear Mother with cards from Mrs Bird, Arthur and myself". The following draft of a letter was folded into the diary:

Darling Mother,

Arthur and I am writing to wish you a Happy New Year. We hope you are very well as we ourselves are. We also hope that you had a nice enjoyable Christmas. We went up to Aunts and enjoyed ourselves very nicely with them and dear Remé.

Remé is getting a fine big girl now and we are sure she is very happy and that dear Aunts do all they can for her so you need not worry about her.

[Deleted: "When we go up to Aunts again for our Summer Holidays we intend coming to see you and we shall look forward to that time."]

We are very sorry to tell you that dear father died last January 20th from Paralysis. He had been ill and could hardly walk for over two years and it gradually worked its way upwards until he died. He died very peacefully and was buried at Finchley Cemetery. Dear Mother try not to grieve over this as for his sake it was the best thing that could happen. He had to lie in bed all day long as he had lost all his strength and could not move and the Doctor said nobody could have done him any good.

We are glad to tell you we are very happy. Arthur works at a firm called the Forestreet Warehouse Company which is in the City and they are like wholesale drapers and sell all kinds of fancy goods. He has a good chance of getting on as it is a large firm. He also lives at the same place.

I am Junior Clerk in a lawyers office and my Master is very kind to me. This Christmas he gave me a sovereign for my present which I am sure you will say was very kind of him.

I am living at the above address with a lady who has five younger children of her own. 3 boys and 2 girls. The eldest is a little over 9.

George is now living at Aunts. [As well as Remé] He went up to them about 3 years ago. [Master George E. Moss. Prospect House. 86 Ley Lane, Armley, Near Leeds]

On Sunday Arthur and I go to Bible Class in the afternoon and Chapel in the evening.

During the weektime I go to Evening Classes which are held 3 time a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30 and leave off at 9.30. The lessons last one hour each and the three subjects I go in for are Shorthand, Bookkeeping and Arithmetic, which will be of great use to me when I grow older.

Arthur is also going to join as soon as they open after the Christmas holidays.

Mrs Bird asked me to send you her best love and the card I have written her name in. She has been very kind to us and we often go to her house to tea and she is always pleased to see us.

Arthur and I send you a card which we hope you will like.

And now wishing you once more A Very Happy New Year and with best love from both of us. We remain your affectionate sons, Harry and Arthur.

Diary: New Years Eve Friday 31.1.1897 Went to Watchnight Service at Packington Street Chapel.

Islington

Packington Street Methodist Church

Opened 1854. Closed 1964.

This was Henry Herbert Moss's church.

Henry Herbert and Ethel Moss had moved to Billericay by 1946 when there was a stamped (One Penny) envelope to "Mr and Mrs H.H. Moss, Helmsley, Western Road, Billericay, Essex" . He became the treasurer of the Gospel Hall in Chapel Street.

Billericay

Town of Prayer

Until June 1992 the Parish Church was St Mary Magdalen
Its red Essex brick tower was built in 1490
External link to her Billericay church history
External link to her original history in the gospel as told by John

Raymond Hatchard - Billericay Life 24.1.1997 wrote with the title "Town of Prayer":

"In religious matters, nonconformity has been established in Billericay for centuries. The first minister of the town's dissenters was Nathaniel Ranew back in 1662

Those who shared his views met for [initially (1663) illegal] Congregational Church meetings in a house in the High Street before building a new chapel in Back Street (now Chapel Street) next to the old burial ground.

The present United Reformed Church, known then as the Independent Chapel, opened in 1839

Next [1667] came the" ['people of God who are vulgarly and by way of contempt called Quakers' - 1704 deed] whose meeting house "was on the site of Elizabeth Cottage at the top of Norsey Road - Kitts the DIY shop and builders yard is built on the Quaker graveyard..."

[ Whites Directory 1848: "Here is a Baptist and also an Independent Chapel, the former belonging to a congregation formed in 1815, and the latter to one which dates its origin from a nonconformist minister of the 17th century"]

[About 1848 there were no Quakers resident in Billericay and "the last few are said to have joined the strict Baptists who formed a meeting... shortly before this date in Chapel Street" Harry Richman page 10]

Back Lane was also home to the town's short lived Salvation Army Corps. ("No disturbances have yet taken place" reported the local press)...

Also here is the Evangelical Free Church, opened in 1906 Mr C.H. Mills as The The Highfield Gospel Hall. For many old inhabitants, this mission would always be linked with Dr W. Shakleton who owned it and preached there for many years.

The Congregationalists were always concerned for their members living in the surrounding areas and outstations were established, including those at Little Burstead and Tye Common.

In the 1920s, the Sunnymead Chapel was opened..

... earlier the Pastor, Benjamin Hackett, established a mission at South Green. This became the South Green Chapel under the superintendent Mr Thomas Throssell.

... in 1887, John Hockley of Wickford opened a Peculiar People's chapel in South Green. This seems only to have lasted until 1893"

Billericay became a Catholic parish in 1910 and the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer opened in 1913. (External link to website) I think, however, that the (recent) history of catholicism in Billericay goes back earlier than this and that the Catholic labourers who took the railway from Shenfield to Southend were provided for. - There is another Holy Redeemer (Clerkenwell 1888) on this website, but that is High Anglican

13.10.1957 Clerk recorded the first minute of the reappointed Billericay Particular and Preparative Meeting of Witham Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). The minutes record that this was a revival of a Billericay Preparative Meeting first appointed in 1667. The first business meeting, like meetings for worship over many years, were held in the Women's Institute in Billericay High Street. The present meeting house, formerly a residential house built in the 1920s, was bought by Witham Monthly Meeting in 1957 (with some of the proceeds of the sale of the former meeting house in Duke Street, Chelmsford). A number of structural modifications were made before meeting for worship was held for the first time in the new meeting house on 4.5.1958. [Information from Peter Garratt of Billericay Quakers]

I think the Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses in Billericay was built about 1960.

In the early 1960s, Spiritualists met in the hall above the Co-op in Billericay High Street.

Baptists returned to Billericay with a church in Perry Street. sshtim.htm (1970s? - After an "interregnum" of three years the church inducted John Eccleston as Pastor on 10.9.1983). Billericay Baptists made a video in mid-2002

The Churches Together in Billericay website includes photographs of Billericay churches and a page of links to their websites. I (Andrew Roberts) have used one of their photographs (without permission)


The Gospel Hall
became
The Undenominational Church
became
The Gospel Hall
became
Billericay Evangelical Free Church
Billericay Evangelical Free Church, Chapel Street.
Sunday Services at 11.00 and 6.30
Bible Studies Wednesdays at 7.30
Prayer Meeting every day at 7.30am
Contact Stan Portch (Telephone 01277 625350)

The hall is a grey, roughcast building. It was gas lit until after the second world war. It has a small forecourt, approached by steps, held by holding wall facing the pavement in Chapel Street. In 1963 Harry Richman (page 150) wrote that the forecourt was "in spring and summer, usually a mass of bloom and is often gay with geraniums which push their blossoms through the palings above the pavement". The garden was maintained by Eva Stewart from her own garden and greenhouse in Potash Road.

1906 - 1909 - 1910 - 1912 - 1914 - 1916 - 1919 - 1926 - 1930 - 1933 - 1939 - 1940 - 1948 - 1949 - 1950 - 1952 - 1955 - 1956 - 1959 - 1961 - 1962 - 1963 - 1964 - 1968 - 1981 - 1986 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1997 - 2005 - 2006 -

Memories of Gospel Hall Chapel Street Billericay Essex.
By C. Everett
Introduction

The Memories, in a black exercise book, were probably written in the early 1950s. Mr Everett died before they were completed

Hall opened [Wednesday] February 21st 1906. I was not at the open meeting as I was working unable to get there, but my wife and son was there. I was there on the following Sunday and have been a worshipper ever since take all parts in the work. I think I have done everything in the hall there is to do barr playing organ and sing a solo even to scrubbing the floor for the master.

This Hall was built by late Mr C.H. Mill soon after he and his only son had taken up residence in 2 house joining at his own expense and sacrifice as the ground on which it stands was meant for tennis court, but seeing there was no spiritual life in the place he felt led to build the Hall

I first met Mr Mill at a mission in the now Rose Hall by a Mr [George] Nokes, known as the Bishop of Whitechapel and remain in touch with him till just before his passing away.

The Hall when built was not so large as it is now, but we got crowded out at times. I remember the 2 Harvest Festivals. I had a job to get the people in. I had to take all the children on the platform and they brought chairs out Mr Mills' house to stand in the centre of Hall.

We had a speaker and evangelistic societies [??] and had a great time. There was services at 11 morning, open meeting for children 2.30-3.15, even service at 6 and a mens meeting following, which was taken by Mr Shuse the Trust [??] Mr Shuse father who was a great help also Mrs Shuse and Mrs Bassingwaite also was very interested and they with Mrs Mill and Mrs Mills junior and my then first wife started the women's meeting

Ken Prior believes that when Mr Mills came to Billericay he bought the house next door to where the Evangelical Free Church now stands, but started Sunday Services in Rose Hall - opposite the Congregational Church. (see map) A brewery owned a house on the land on which the Evangelical Free Church now stands (see map). Mr Mills bought this and used it for house meetings. The back of the present church, which is brick, is the remaining part of the house.

Mr Everett's memories continued - from about 1910

About four years after, Mr Mills decided to enlarge it and had the vestry and baptistry added on and after it was finished quite a number was baptised, myself included. My wife was the first to be done. It caused quite a sensation in Billericay. They had not heard of it before. We was crowded out and the work grew.

The men a Bible Study every week. I believe it was on Tuesday. It often went on till 10 clock. I remember one night it had gone 10 and Mrs Mills came out to throw a stone at the door and it came right through window. Then we closed.

In 1912, Dr W. Shakleton, an ex-missionary to China, set up his medical practice in Billericay. He was a much respected doctor and described as "A man of prayer but somewhat eccentric", his main eccentricity being that he would always pray with the family before examining a patient he visited.

Dr Shakleton and his wife (previously Alice Knights) returned to Britain in 1909 according to Oliver Wilkinson, who also says: "Dr Shakleton's health did not allow him and his wife to return to China. After a few years in Cambridge, he came to Billericay in 1912, and continued in general medical practice there until 1940. The Gospel Hall was already in existence when he came to Billericay; but when the leader of the work there had to move away from the district during the war, the numbers dwindled and some strange teaching crept in. Later Dr Shakleton purchased the Hall from the original owner, and for several years he superintended the work there. He often preached himself; and he invited preachers of many different denominations..." (Mildmay Mission to the Jews Magazine, May/June 1963)

Ken Prior says that Dr Shackleton started a work and joined up with Mr Mills. - In the following extract from Mr Everett's memories, Miss Shakleton darns soldiers' socks.

Mr Everett's memories continued - from August 1914

When war broke out in August 1914 we had soldiers in four day in the Place [??] and the Hall was opened to them as a Reading and Writing Room. It was open at 2pm and Dr Shakleton aunt, a Miss Shakleton, used to go with other ladies in the afternoon till 4 oclock and mend their socks or anything else.

I used to open up at 6 oclock than at 8 writing and reading had to stop. We had singing and a short address. I use like hear them sing Onward Christian Soldiers. They would almost lift the roof off the Hall.

It was used as such, but on Sunday it was reserved for the services and we had a good time with the boys. We had quite a lot as we had a fresh regiment in every three weeks. It went on about two years.

The first bombs from Zeppelin airships were dropped on London on 31.5.1915. On the night of 23/24.9.1916 a L-32 Zeppelin was shot down and crashed into fields off Jackson's Lane - External link to Essex Police Museum history of the Zeppelin raids

Mr Everett's memories continued - from end of 1915 - early 1916

Now I come to the sad part of my story. Later part of 1915 or the beginning of 1916, when it was very rough here, Mr and Mrs Mills senior went to stay with Mr Sammery at London Road, Southend, and were involved in raid and Mr Mill received injuries from which he never recovered. The shock left his heart bad.

They then went to Bath and I only saw him once after that. I received a letter asking me to meet him at station at 1 oclock and I met him and we went to his home where we had prayer and talk over things and he revealed too me that he was handing over the Hall and houses to Mr Wilfred Mills, and at the same time we should have strange teaching but said he could not alter it but begged of me to be faithful and look after things and I promised both him and the Lord on my knees that I would as long as God gave me strength and that what kept me here.

I bade Mr Mills goodbye at the station that afternoon and went home very sad. I never saw him no more. He was called home soon after.

Mr Wilfred took over. Soon after he called a meeting and soon made known what he was going to do. The old speakers were all dropped and he appointed a Mr C. Welch as head and there was a Mr French a young man and a Mr Petty and things was soon altered and the people soon began to leave.

For one thing, they done away of the Lord table and the old people felt it very much and naturally looked to me so I purchased a bottle of wine and after the first meeting the Speaker used to walk out and we use to stay behind and I use to take the service.

So I got myself disliked and all tried to make me believe it was abolish by the teaching of Romans. But I maintained my Lord's command was till he come.

It went on some time. They wanted us to give up the herg [??] and the hall would have been closed. All this time they were depending [??] on me to entertain them. Mr W. Mills was then living at Eastbourne.

I use to expect to be at all every meeting. Many times I have had prayer in the vestry with only me and my wife. Our constant prayer was that Lord would raise up some one to take it over as it was getting to much for me.

Harry Richman says that Dr W. Shakleton followed Dr R. Holtby at Barnsley House, number 98 Billericay High Street, in 1919. [Barnsley House is to the south of the present entrance to the Car Park]. Dr R. Bowseman was in partnership with Dr Shakleton at Barnsley House but resided at Lynton House, two doors away. When my (Roberts) family moved to Billericay in 1955, Dr Bowseman was our doctor. (But not in the same premises)

Mr Everett's memories continued - from early 1919

You can imagine how relieved we were when we heard Dr Shakleton was taking it on. It was a great relief as well as answer to prayer. Mr Mills came up then and when he thanked me for what I had done he said he would write me, but I have never heard from him yet.

Now begins a time of praise and blessing. It was early part of 1919 as nigh as I can remember when my prayers were answered an Dr Shakleton took over.

We soon had a change of speakers and people soon came in.

Ken Prior says Mr Mills moved and Dr Shackleton bought the building off Mr Mills. He owned it until he moved to Ireland (or about then). After that, the church bought the building off Dr Shackleton.

Miss Marie Shakleton (a daughter) told Edwin Roberts that her father bought the Hall because so many of his patients were being converted he needed somewhere to minister to them spiritually. Dr Shakleton conducted the services.

Under Dr Shakleton it was called the Undenominational Church.

Ken Prior says that at some stage, the brick hall haveing proved too small, Mr Mills (or Dr Shakleton?) bought a first world war hut and erected it at the front. The back part of the present hall (with the vestry at the end and the baptistry to the side) is the old hall. Its side wall being removed, the new part of the hall continued it towards the road. The new part had tongued and grooved wooden walls. The wooden walls can be seen on a photograph which is probably from the 1930s - But the extension was added during or just after the war.

Before running water was installed (I do not know when that was) some church members dug a well which was used for a number of years.

The photograph below is said to have been taken about 1909, and shows the church nestling beneath two elm trees. Given Ken's evidence, the photograph is probably from just after the first world war.

The hall is not much changed in the photograph taken from the same position in the 1990s. The following photograph shows the group of women and children, from the same photograph, outside Rose Cottages. I have included it in case it helps date the picture.

Mr Everett's memories - continued

We had a supply of students from Spurgeon College. Some good speakers. One I remember was Alan Redpath. I had lost all sight of him till I see his name in Radio Times in connection with Sunday half hour on Sunday January 13, 1952. He was a very plain speaker and then we often use to have the head of the college, a very learned man but very nice, and many others, and then the Dr often use to speak himself and we often had a missionary from China.

Spurgeon's College (new name) moved to South Norwood Hill. Previously it had been "The Pastors' College" at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Elephant and Castle (external link to history). External link to biography of Alan Redpath

The first Methodist society was formed in Billericay in 1924 meeting in the Women's Institute Hall (see map). Work started on a Methodist Church in Western Road in 1925 and this was opened in 1926. - The church is reached from the High Street by going down Red Lion Lane (see map). The church cost £2,700. Billericay's population was 5,000 in those days. A minister was assigned to the church from 1926 and the first minister resident in Billericay was Rev J Hurd Barley who came to the town in 1947. The present church building was opened in 1964 - So 2004 was the celebration of 80 years of the Billericay society and 40 years of the building. The large hall at the back of the church was opened in 1973, and in 2002 the Methodists opened "our new church plant" at Queens Park Avenue, after 11 years of outreach work by a team of Methodists on Queens Park. [Information from Billericay Methodists - Thank you] -external weblink-

Within living memory, grass grew between the cart wheel tracks on Billericay High Street and livestock grazed on a field between the High Street and Chapel Street. From Dr Shakleton's House on the High Street, members of his bible class could walk through his large garden and across the "meadow" to the hall where he conducted services. (see map) Perhaps this is when people called it the High Field Gospel Hall?? - I have not found any reference to this name apart from Raymond Hatchard's article?

Mr Everett's memories - continued

And now I must speak of one who I remember best of all: The Rev Sidlow Baxter who first came to Ramsden Heath and was used of the Lord there and then he came to us several times.

Then a 14 day mission was started after much prayer and we had a great time. People from Ramsden Heath and other places. There was quite a number of converts and a strengthening of older christians. He was a rare singer and his favourite hymn was no. 2 in the Young Life Book.

That was about 1926 or 27. We still have one if not more of his converts come to Hall.

External link: Youth Ministry Pioneers of the 20th Century, Part I by Mark W. Cannister (2003) (a pdf file) includes the story of the foundation of the Young Life Campaign by Frederick & Arthur Wood.

After the mission we started the Young Life Campaign meeting. Quite a number of young people joined. We had a branch at Ramsden and another at Gt Baddow.

A Mr Henry Taylor as head how after a few years he joined the Caravan Mission for Children with a Miss Overs, who afterwards became his wife, and was stationed at Dorset. But he was called home very young after about 3 years service.

We use to have a rally in the Hall about 4 times a year we often had of Bro. Woods and we had Mr Wood Senr. A splendid speaker for an old Gentleman. And different ones from Hall use to go out speaking.

It fell away for a want of a leader after Mr Taylor left. A Mr Stops took it on, but he could not be depended on. By the way, Mr Stops was converted under Mr Sidlow Baxter in Doctor Bible Class. He was a confessed unbeliever in any thing before.

Mr Everett's memories - continued

Now I must speak of another speaker we had at the Hall. A very old gentleman, but a grand speaker. Mr Charles English. He had been in America and different places and was very fond of speaking about the different prisons and life in them. One of his favourite texts was entitled a bunch of keys. Another was a bunch of sweat peas. All taken out of the Bible.

And I don't think he ever came without having the hymn Redemption Ground (external link)

I well remember the last time he came. The Dr was away and I was on the platform with him to take the prayer and read the lesson, and when he was speaking all my fear was he would drop he was so tottery, but a wonderful old gentleman. He has passed on to his reward now.

If you can contribute to any part of this history - please share
Members of the Gospel Hall between the wars included Mr and Mrs Everett, Mr Prior senior and Ken Prior, of Norsey Road (born on Christmas Day 1924) who was delivered by Dr Shakleton and has known the hall all his life; Charles Lowder, who began attending in 1926; his wife Maud Lowder; Grace Walters, whose father, Arthur Earnest Walters, helped to put the message "God is Love" on the roadside wall; Walter Harris, who became Superintendent about 1940 when Dr Shakleton left Billericay, and Eva May Stewart. God is Love

The grace of God: On Thursday 13.3.1930 the countryside around Billericay was knee deep in snow. The mid-wife, who cycled from patient to patient, had three deliveries to attend to, and did not reach the last in Potash Road before the delivery of a baby girl to Doris Muriel Walters. The baby was successfully delivered by Doris's sister-in-law, Lilian, but ten days later she became very weak and Dr Shakleton told her parents that she had an error in her metabolism and would not last the night. He would come the next day to sign her death certificate. All night her parents prayed and Arthur Walters desperately promised God that if she were saved he would devote himself even more devotedly to God's cause. In the morning Dr Shakleton returned and, looking at the baby, said "whatever you are doing, carry on doing it". The baby that was to have been Janet Mary Walters was named Grace Lilian Walters instead - and never stopped smiling!

The wall in front of the church, with "God is Love" was erected when Ken Prior was eight or nine years old: That is about 1932 to 1934. Previously, the land had just slopped up to the hall. People walked up the slope. Steps were put in at the same time with the message "You must be born again" on them. There was also a slope down south of the hall. This originally had a privet [??] hedge at the bottom of it. However, it was replaced by a fence at the top to make sure children did not fall down the slope.

The message on the wall was and is
God is Love
The poster, lit by the gas lamp, was
Wherefore SIGHEST thou? Say unto the wicked Why will Ye Die?

Charlie and Maud Lowder about 1933

Rose Baker was born 23.3.1908. She was 17 (1925) when she went to the Gospel Hall. At this time, Mr Everett, the Sunday School Superintendent, was the person who welcomed people at the door. Eva Stewart came a year or two later and Mr Everett introduced her to Rose as they were young ladies about the same age. Grace Weston remembers Rose, Eva and Gertie Rayner cycling to the hall together, during the war, and sitting together in the second row from the front.

Eva May Stewart Daughter of the gardener to "Squire Bacon", was born 24.1.1909 in Ramsden Heath. The family lost their tied accommodation when her father went to war and they moved into the cottage in Potash Road, Billericay, where Eva lived (and gardened) for most of her life. Her father was killed in action and her mother died in the early 1930s. Shortly after (?) Eva was converted at a Pentecostal meeting her grandmother ("Wade") introduced her to. She later attended the Gospel Hall in Chapel Street. For many years, Eva worked at Lakeside Nurseries in Perry Street (overlooking Lake Meadows) where she was very happy, although the work was very hard. She gained a great deal of knowledge about flowers and nursery work, which she maintained all her life. Eva Stewart's 90th birthday was celebrated at the Evangelical Free Church on Sunday 24.1.1999. She died on 23.2.2002 and on Tuesday 5.3.2002 there was a Service of Thanksgiving for her life Billericay Evangelical Free Church.

Eva Stewart and Rose Baker: about 1933

Sunday School Outings

The photograph below (about 1933), from which the above is taken, is printed on a postcard and shows Charlie and Maud Lowder, Eva Stewart and Rose Baker (who it belongs to). The diagram was drawn by someone else. It shows the adults (mostly Sunday School teachers) on the annual Sunday School outing to Shoeburyness. many went and a whole railway carriage was booked to take them from Billericay Station to Southend. There a bus was organised by Police Constable Abbott of Southend (who used to preach at the Gospel Hall) to take everybody to Shoeburyness. They took sandwiches, but the also used Uncle Tom's Cabin, shown in this picture. The photograph shows John Stopps, Charlie Lowder, Maud Lowder, Mrs Fairman, Eva Stewart, Rose Baker, another lady, and Mr Everett (the Sunday School Superintendent) on the back row - Mrs Stammers (who had several children) just in front of John Stopps - with Mrs Everett, Mrs Quaterman, lady with baby and toddlers, and three other ladies, in the front row. The lady at the far end may be Mrs Rouse. Catering Food Parties Catering Food Parties

May 1939 Among Europe's Children (Illustrated) published by European Christian Mission. Includes two articles by "M. Harris". It says (p.104) that "the work now in its thirty-sixth year, had its origin in... an all-night prayer meeting in 1904, God gave to r G.P. Raud, now the Founder and the General Director of the Mission, the understanding of His leading for the spreading of the Gospel in Europe". The words of a hymn "Young Helpers for Europe are we" were written by M. Harris. (Copies, price 2d, tucked into Grace Weston's copy of the book). A second (revised) eidtion was published in May 1947. This has a Foreword by "W. Stuart Harris" which expresses gratitude "to all who have assisted Mrs Harris in the compiling of this book". A publication in 1965 was translated from the French, and introduced by, "May J. Harris". It contains a picture of Mrs Harris taking a children's Bible class May J. Harris

The hall was very active during the war. Grace Walters was in the Sunday School where she understood that God is the light of the world and that if she responded to him he would be a light for her throughout her life. Sometime in 1941 Mrs Lowder helped her to fill out a card expressing her desire to respond.

1940: Dr Shakleton moved to Northern Ireland. Ken Prior says that this was because Dr Shakleton had reached retiring age (he was 70 years old) he was no longer allowed to practice in England, but could practice in Northern Ireland.

Ken Prior recalls that at some time, Mr Harris came to Billericay and helped in the work, eventually becoming the leader. The name was changed [back] to the Gospel Hall and later changed to Billericay Evangelical Free Church. The church minutes show that the recommendation to change the name back to Gospel Hall came from Ken's father, Mr Prior senior.

founded 1906 The two men standing at the back of this Kings Own picture are Peter Braun on the left and Norman Harris on the right. The picture is taken in the Gospel Hall, with the camera facing the entrance. At this time, Peter had left the navy and was worshipping at the Open Brethren Assembly (Primrose ??) in Brentwood.

A poem from the front of Life at Lakeside Nurseries, a scrapbook of photographs, pictures and poems that Eva Stewart made. Inside the scrapbook some of the material is dated 1948/1949.

Lord of all growing things
I recognise thy hand
Thou causeth all things to spring forth
In greenhouse or the land

Thou sendest sun and rain
And winds to purify
Up the field on a sunny day
To work it is a joy

The birds are sweetly singing
The sky above is blue
I see the hills and woods around
The lake is in full view

There is potting in the greenhouse
And bunching in the shed
I thank the for this pleasant way
To earn my daily bread

Thou givest strength to work
And grace and knowledge too
I pray I all things heartily
As unto the may do.

Lord of all plants help me
My labours to pursue
Without complaint and grumbling
Thy glory still in view

Eva Stewart
from a painting "Autumn Glory" by Eva Stewart

About 1948?, Ken Prior remembers, After the war electricity was connected to the church and Mr Spears installed the lighting. Te structure was improved: Wire mesh and rendering were added to the walls and a corrugated roof put on. [Elsewhere: Its roof was felt over wood at first, then asbestos, then slate].

founded 1906

founded 1906

founded 1906
Malden 1948 - Sunday School Treat
Back row: Esther Brooks - Doreen Stewart - David Lees
Bottom row: Leslie Prior - Raymond Larnder - Avril Brooks - Sylvia Larnder

founded 1906
Malden 1949 - Sunday School Treat
"To Grace - With best Christmas wishes from the Supt Billericay Gospel Hall Sunday School"

In 1950 the population of Billericay was 8,000. Town Farm Estate and Chantry Estate were built in the early 1950s. Information from Wyn Grant's "Billericay Page". Wyn moved to Billericay in 1956. Edwin and Lily Roberts and their children (including me) moved there in November 1955

Water August 1950 - The Kings Own Bible Class hike

founded 1906

founded 1906

founded 1906

14.8.1952 Henry Herbert and Ethel Moss (and cat) at the door of their house - Helmsley, Western Road, Billericay. Mr Moss was the treasurer of the Gospel Hall in Chapel Street.

5.9.1953 Marriage of Don Weston and Grace Walters at the Gospel Hall - Walter Harris married them.

Walter Harris ceased being superintendent in 1953. The church continued under its deacons.

It was about this time that the name was changed from Gospel Hall to Evangelical Free Church.

Walter Harris had two sons: Stuart Harris who (with his wife, May) was in the European Christian Mission and Norman Harris, who was married to Madeline. Mr and Mrs Norman Harris and their father moved to Thorpe Bay.

In the autumn of 1955 the deacons were: Leslie Alden, John Davies, Charles Lowder. Ken Prior and Mr Moss

founded 1906

This small four page leaflet may have been produced before 1953 because it shows Mr N.S. Harris (Norman) as Secretary. Bethany is the address that Edwin Roberts moved to in the autumn of 1955.

4 inches across the top, 5 inches down Billericay Evangelical Free Church founded 1906

inside left
Billericay Evangelical Free Church founded 1906

inside right
Billericay Evangelical Free Church founded 1906

back page
Billericay Evangelical Free Church founded 1906

still the Gospel Hall When Don and Grace were married (5.9.1953) it was still the Gospel Hall on the notice board

founded 1906
Arthur Earnest and Doris Muriel Walters, the parents of Philip, Stephen and Grace Walters, lived in Potash Road, but further into the countryside than Eva Stewart. Mr Walters, who had been in the Salvation Army, called every child "sunshine" as he could not remember names. Not long after my (Andrew Roberts) family moved to Billericay he secured for me an orange bike with drop handle bars that saw me right through my teenage years.

Friday 4.11.1955 The first contingent of the Roberts family moved to 27 Perry Street, Billericay, Essex (Telephone Billericay 491). It was a wet day and they seemed to be moving into a horrible muddy lane. On Wednesday 8.11.1955 Andrew came from Warrington... The train from Warrington to London and the train to Billericay was a steam train. Any other kind of train was a rarity at this time. Not long after we arrived in Billericay I heard a horn in the night which was a trial run for a diesel train.

Billericay Evangelical Free Church, Chapel Street. The people I remember at the church include: Mr John and Mrs Davis, Rita and Peter Davis; Mr Charles Lowder and Mrs Lowder; Mr and Mrs Moss; Mr Prior, Ken Prior, Mary Prior; Mr and Mrs Lees (had a small holding, Mrs Lees played the organ), Eva Stewart, Rose Baker, Mr and Mrs Walters, Grace and Don Weston. Mr Leslie and Mrs Alden, Geoffrey Alden. W.J.Harris, Mr and Mrs Harris, and Norman Harris.

founded 1906

founded 1906

Every year, Ken Prior took boys from the Kings Own Bible Class to a camp at White Cliff Bay on the Isle of Wight with boys from classes all over the country. These photographs were taken in the summer of 1956, when Andrew Roberts (aged 12) went for the first time. I (Andrew) went six times - Each August to 1961. The picture of Ken (below) is taken from the Kings Own Bible Class reunion photograph in 1961.

founded 1906

Ken Prior recalls that the the Kings Own Bible Class was not part of the church, although some of the children in the class came from the church. Originally, Norman Harris took about 40 boys to various camps including one on the Isle of Wight. Ken Prior Clifford Brown and Peter Braun were his helpers.

founded 1906
founded 1906 Flying the flag

The Girls Kings Own Bible Class Camp at Sherringham in Norfolk included three from Billericay: Mary Prior, Jennifer Turmer/Lees and Joan Brundish.

and smiling brightly

The only one I can identify is Mary Prior. She is here, in glasses, smiling brightly and looking just like she did when I first met her. Mary was born in the summer of 1946. If you can correctly guess her age in this picture you can work out the year that the King's Own Girls had their picture taken

the last words to Mary:

Oh My Giddy Aunt!

23.8.1956 The Sunday School teachers were Miss Harrison, Grace Weston, Mrs Ward, Mr and Mrs Grass, and Edwin Roberts.

founded 1906

founded 1906

The church carried on under its deacons until 1961. One of these was Mr Herbert Moss, the Treasurer, shown below (right) with his wife Ethel in their backgarden on 22.7.1959. I think the lady on the far left is Ethel Moss's sister, who lived with them at this time (?) and the lady in the middle is Mr Moss's sister, visiting from Leeds.

founded 1906

founded 1906
Kings Own Bible Class reunion 1961. Amongst those shown are Andrew Roberts and Ken Prior (at the back), Mrs Alexander and Grace Weston (Grace smiling brightly, near the middle), and Mrs Lees (white hat at the right)

1961 Stan Portch, the present contact for the Evangelical Free Church, joined the church in 1961 - two weeks before John Eaton became the minister.

If you can contribute to any part of this history - please share

At the end of 1961 the Evangelical Free Church ceased to be run by its deacons alone and appointed Revd. John A. Eaton, F.R.S.A as its regular minister.

Originally from Toxteth, Liverpool, John Eaton served in the army during the war and then went to Manchester Baptist College. In 1946 he became the minister of the Baptist Church at Leominster in Herefordshire. In 1953 he became minister of Oaklands Baptist Church, Surbiton, where he founded the Good News Trailer Missionary Fellowship in 1959. Doris Thornton, who had just left school, became his assistant.

John Eaton was an occasional preacher during 1961: He took the morning service on Sunday 9th April; the Sunday School Anniversary services on Sunday 16th July, the services on Sunday 17th September and the Christmas Day service (a Monday) - From then on he was the regular preacher almost every Sunday, morning and evening.

On Sunday 14.1.1962 a clock was presented to Mr Leslie and Mrs Alden. They and their son, Geoffrey Alden, came to Billericay early in 1953 [??]. They left Billericay in June 1961. They (first) went to Thorpe Bay, where the Harris's moved earlier, and later to Clacton. Mrs Alden ran a very popular women's meeting and continued coming to Billericay for several years after to hold this. Then it was taken over by Mrs Lowder and later by Mrs Eaton.

Saturday 3.2.1962 was the induction service for John Eaton and (on the same day) the baptistry had to be filled for a baptism the next day. To prepare for this, the partition had to be moved on the Friday and restored on Monday

In 1962, Dr W. Shakleton returned to Billericay from Ireland to be nearer to his son and daughters. He died in Billericay on Sunday 3.3.1963, aged 92. His funeral service was at the Billericay Evangelical Free Church on Thursday 7.3.1963. Edwin Roberts called on the Shakletons on Wednesday 6.3.1963 to help with the arrangements. Dr W. Shakleton had two daughters Miss Marie Shakleton (who Edwin helped arrange the funeral) and a headmistress of a Cookery School, and a son.

"When he sold his home in 1962 in Ireland, in order to have a smaller place, and without stairs, he returned to England to be nearer to his son and daughters. He was looking forward to renewing many acquaintances in the Billericay area when the warmer weather came, but after an illness of two weeks, during which his strength gradually failed, the Lord quietly took him home." (Oliver Wilkinson)

On Sunday 18.3.1962 "Mr Portch" took the morning service and "Mr Hardingham and Co." the evening. On Sunday 30.5.1962 Mr Portch took the morning service and "Jno Morris" the evening. On Sunday 15.7.1962 John Davies took the morning service and Mr Portch the evening. Mr Portch took the morning service on Sunday 2.9.1962, when Rev Bragg took the evening.

Christian Brethren began meeting at 5 Greenway in 1963.

1963? Billericay and its High Street (2nd edition) compiled by Harry Richman includes Chapel Street as well as the High Street and has histories of the Evangelical Free Church and of Dr Shakleton's practice in the High Street. Harry was the first Curator of the Cater Museum in Billericay [External link to website] and his book was compiled "at the request of The Billericay Group of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England". It is not dated, but the date on the map facing page 9 is 1963. I think the map was drawn by Mr Amos. The introduction says the survey is based on the architectural notes of Mr G.S. Amos, A.I.A.A.

On the following section of this map, Rose Hall (opposite the Congregational Church), where the fellowship started, is in yellow. I have coloured the "Gospel Hall" in red and Barnsley House (98) where Dr Shakleton had his practice in green. Almost opposite Barnsley House is Red Lion Lane, leading from the Red Lion pub down to the Methodist Church that was built on Western Road about 1925. Peter Braun, whose father helped build the Methodist Church, remembers walking up Red Lion Lane to Barnsley House, entering past the consulting room at the front to attend Dr Shakleton's bible class, held at the back. From there one could wall through the large garden to a meadow, and through the meadow to the church.

The Women's Institute (in yellow) was used for the girl's section of the King's Own Bible Class.To the south along Laindon Road, but not shown, was the hall which was used by the boy's section of the King's Own Bible Class.

External Link: 1964 In Romania "Pastor Wurmbrand is released from prison in another general amnesty and resumes his work. Rev. W. Stuart Harris and Rev. John Moseley of European Christian Mission arrive in Bucharest. Taking precautions so that they are not followed, Rev. Harris and Rev. Moseley make their way to the little attic home of the Wurmbrands. The pastor recounts some of his prison experiences, while his son, Mihai, looks in the street below to see if anyone is watching. The next day they meet in a park in Bucharest and have their final conversation. Precious Scriptures and other items are handed over. This is the first contact the Wurmbrands have had with outside missionaries since the arrest."

1968 Rev. W. Stuart Harris founds "Christian Mission to the Communist World" which became "Release International" in 1992. External link to website.

Good News Trailer Missionary Fellowship published (or re- published) An approach to Roman Catholics (35 pages) by Lilian Alberta Walsh in 1961, reset and revised in 1964 - Roger at Ravenscrag (128 pages) by Elizabeth Frances Medlicott Smith, in 1968 (when it was based at Wickford) - The Garden of Eden. The Lord God in the Garden (10 pages) by Charles Haddon Spurgeon in 1968 - A collection of poems (20 pages) by Margaret Wheatley 1970 - Election by Charles Haddon Spurgeon in 1981 - The Reformed Faith in the Modern World by Floyd E. Hamilton in 1981 (this is classified as being about Calvinism)

About 1981 John Eaton moved from Billericay to Wickford, where he became the minister at Wickford Reformed Baptist Church - [This church currently meets in Runwell Youth Centre, Church End Lane. A letter from Rev. Alan Macgregor, current minister of the church, explains his objections to the hymn book Praise, in which 34 hymns by Graham Kendrick "an author who is far from reformed" replaced older hymns. He is pleased however by the prominence given to the Psalms in the hymn book.]

June 1986: Rose Baker, Eva Stewart and Lily Roberts take the sun (in Lake Meadows?) founded 1906

In July 1992, Judith Baldwin of Jersey Gardens, Wickford married Nicholas Snellum at Billericay Evangelical Free church. Judith is the daughter of Roger and Doris Baldwin (previously Thornton - Secretary to Rev. John Eaton in the Good News Trailer Missionary Fellowship). Picture from Billericay Gazette 31.7.1992 founded 1906

Tuesday 26.1.1993 founded 1906
The Women's Meeting with Mrs Rose Lees at the organ - for the last time?
Saturday 30.1.1993

Mrs Rose Lees at her farewell tea

Mrs Lees played the piano and the organ at the church for as long as I can remember - She also ran Christian Endeavour - In which she allowed me to help her -





founded 1906 And she let me study toads, like this one, in the raspberry rows of the Lees' market garden

founded 1906
Mr John Davies at the farewell tea for Mrs Lees
founded 1906 "You know what I like about a bible like this?" said Mr Davies, inspecting my new moroccan bible - below, but older - "You can roll it right up into a cylinder like this"

founded 1906

founded 1906 Maud and Charles Lowder, photograph taken at the 88th Anniversary tea of the Billericay Evangelical Free Church, 23.4.1994 - It is Mr Lowder that I remember as the deacon who welcomed us at the door with a warm and persistent handshake and (in my case) the desire to see me more often!

Friday 24.3.1995 Funeral of John Davies at the Evangelical Free Church

1.8.1997 "Reverend John Alfred Eaton F.R.S.A. Peacefully entered the presence of his Lord on 1 August 1997. Moved from Toxteth, Liverpool to minister at Leominster, Hereford - Oaklands, Surbiton - Billericay and Wickford, Essex. He founded the Good News Trailer Missionary Fellowship; now under the care of European Missionary Fellowship. Funeral Service will take place at Wattisham Baptist Church, Suffolk..." (Essex Chronicle 8.8.1997)

Stuart Allen, one of the four current elders, provides these highlights from the recent life of the church:


10.10.2005 Harvest home at the Billericay Evangelical Free Church

and Jesus revolution!


Autumn 2005 A visit from the Italian Jesus Revolution team "led by Valeria who we support as a church. (she is back row third from left) - Stan Portch is the prominent person on the left, Ken Prior is in second row next to Stan's tie !"

Jesus Revolution - the gospel to the youth of Europe
The Italian mobile team is at the end.

Saturday 29.4.2006 100th Anniversary Celebrations of Billericay Evangelical Free Church, Chapel Street. Everyone welcome.

3pm Fellowship: An opportunity to meet old friends and chat together. There will be a display of Church memorabilia

5pm Buffet tea:

6.30pm Praise and worship with ministry by Mr John Martin

Billericay Christian Brethren

Christian Brethren began meeting as the Greenway Assembly, 5 Greenway, Billericay in the autumn of 1963. The formation of the assembly followed a Tent Campaign in July 1963 by Mr Jim Fraser, the Essex Evangelist of the Counties Evangelistic Work of the Christian Brethren. Greenway, and Sunnymede which followed, are estates to the west of the old town of Billericay.

In 1963 several residents in Billericay worshipped at Sawyer's Hall Lane Chapel in Brentwood. They included William E. Barnes and his wife, Ivy, who lived at 5 Greenway, Billericay. Mr Barnes had been baptised at Sawyer's Hall Lane Chapel in January 1963. Other people with Christian Brethren roots worshipped at the Billericay Evangelical Free Church.

As a result of the tent meetings, a Sunday School was started, meeting in the local school. Several of the Sunday School teachers were members of Sawyer's Hall Lane Chapel. Mr and Mrs Barnes made their home available for meeting for the breaking of bread every Sunday morning. Mr A. Lodge from Sawyer's Hall Lane Chapel was another who took a very active part in helping. Howard P. Kilpin, who lived in Billericay, worshipped with the Christian Brethren at Ingaway Chapel, Ingaway, Lee Chapel South, Basildon, Essex. As Greenway was much nearer to his home, he began worshipping there in 1964. Another who joined was William Garratt. Sometime in 1965, Edwin and Lily Roberts left the Evangelical Free Church and began to worship at Greenway.

Letters were sent to The Witness in April 1965 to secure mention of the "newly formed Assembly at Billericay". Commendations were provided by the two nearest assemblies: Sawyer's Hall Lane Chapel and Ingaway Chapel.

Billericay Christian Brethren
The Barnes family at Clacton in June 1968

Paul Barnes wrote: "I am the second son of William E. Barnes (referred to above). I was born in 1960 and so grew up during the years that the assembly was meeting in my parent's home"

About 1968 the elders of the Greenway Assembly were negotiating about the purchase of land on the Sunnymede Estate in Billericay for an assembly hall. This fell through.

Billericay Christian Brethren
"Sunnymead Chapel - October 1969"

Sunnymede Chapel, Thynne Road, Billericay was purchased from the Billericay Congregational Church, and used for Christian Brethren Worship from 1971. The official opening was in November 1971, but there was a period before when the assembly was meeting at Greenway and using the chapel. The following photographs are dated 7.2.1971.

Two sides of the Sunday evening meeting at Greenway 7.2.1971:

Elderly couple in the back row believed to be Mr and Mrs MacKenzie.
Second row, Mr and Mrs Ware - Miss Mary Woolcott (sister of Ivy Barnes) - Lily Roberts (Edwin presumably taking the picture)
Front row left: Linda and Graham Light
Front row centre: June Rasdall and Stan Rasdall (next picture) sitting on either side of a lady who may be a visiting friend. Billericay Christian Brethren
Billericay Christian Brethren
Probably Bill Garrett in the back row left of photo
"The man in the corner looks familiar, and I guess he may have been the visiting speaker that night". (Paul Barnes)
John Micklewright in the next row, next to Lily Roberts
Stan Rasdall in the front
William (with dark glasses) and Ivy Barnes behind Ruth and Paul. David is sitting in the arm-chair.

The second two photographs, also dated 7.2.1971. are of a "Group at P.M." [Prayer Meeting] "in Chapel" and "Interior of Chapel: arranged for Play Group"

Billericay Christian Brethren

Billericay Christian Brethren

Edwin Roberts gave a report in November 1971 and, when he had finished:

    "A gentleman on the platform [said that Edwin] had given the official version and now he would give the unofficial version. He went on to tell... of a stolen camera, rounders played with tea-cups, incendiarism in a tent, a smashed organ and disrespect to a bishop"
"Paul Barnes writes: The Chapel was indeed officially opened in November 1971 and we have some press cuttings to prove it! We also have a cassette recording of the official opening services... It would be good to see some more details in the history - especially the history of the early 1970s which was an exciting period of growth. The names of several prominent elders and members are missing." "I recall that, following the opening of the chapel, the numbers gradually built up in all activities of the church until the mid-1970s. I can remember counting the number of people coming to the evening service each week, always praying that more would come, and on at least one occasion it reached 50 (which was quite good for a small chapel). For Sunday School anniversaries there would be over 100 people squeezed into the chapel including the children. By the late 1970s the assembly was in decline as people moved away from the area. We left the chapel ourselves in April 1977 when we moved to Pitsea, Basildon."

In 1981, the assembly was going through a "down" period. Although it had "three times as many members as we had in 1965", "with a membership in the twenties" there was "small leeway when sickness or other causes keep a few away at the same time". Bright features were that about half the assembly were usually present at the Prayer Meeting and Bible Study; Will Garratt was running "a promising Sunday School"; a Boy Covenanters continued ("on the look-out for more members") and a number of people came very regularly to the Women's Fellowship. A magazine Challenge was sold and distributed to about sixty homes every month. In the ten years since it opened at the Chapel, the assembly had paid off its mortgage and overdraft, and "we are working our way through the private loan of a few hundred pounds".

William Barnes was called home to be with the Lord in January 2001. Paul Barnes runs a charity that assists various projects and people in India. To see photographs of him and his friends in India visit his website

The Assemblies Address Book is available as a pdf file. (archive) I contains the following notice for Sunnymede Chapel:

You will find a warm welcome and fellowship at
SUNNYMEDE CHAPEL
Thynne Road
(corner of Greens Farm Lane)
Billericay
Essex CM11 2HH

Sunday: Breaking of Bread 10.00am
Evening Service 6.30pm
Thursday Ladies' Fellowship 2.45pm
Prayer and Ministry 7.30pm
Other activities for Mums and Toddlers, and children of various ages.
For further information call
01277 224561 or 623139 or 653262

Others

Long Buckby Baptist Church

Baptists active before 1746. A church formed in 1759. First stone of a new chapel laid 25.3.1846. Centenary booklet: 1946.



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she understood that God is the light of the world and that if she responded to him he would be a light for her throughout her life.