The present building, an early Victorian brick structure, was erected in 1862 when a licence was granted to a Mr John Gingell, a lay minister, on 19th September for “Protestant Dissenters”, however this was not the beginning for the Church in the village.
The story of the Chapel goes back to the mid 1820’s when prayer meetings began in Epping Green , at the home of a Mr Brown, and in 1827 a certificate was granted to the Protestant Dissenters from the Church of England to worship in the Browns’ home.
One evening whilst Mrs Brown was reading her bible, “the Lord spoke through His word” that a piece of land must be bought and a Chapel built. This was duly erected at their own expense and opened on the 15th October 1834.
A gallery was added later, to accommodate the growing congregation and a room added at the side for a Sunday school. This building still stands and is now known as Briar Cottage, which currently forms part of a row of four cottages to the north of the existing chapel.
The current building has a beautiful rose window above the front door, which is best seen from the inside with the sun shining through. The main sanctuary was originally longer than it is today. This is because of alterations in 1991 which provided a school room and better kitchen facilities for the Chapel as well as living accommodation for a Minister, to ensure that the chapel remains an effective part of the area. In 2012 the “new” chapel celebrated it’s 150th Anniversary and the beautiful “Good Shepherd” window was installed , based on a design by villager & Chapel member , Mary Deacon , with funding from “The Toye Foundation”.
So what, or who prompted Mr & Mrs Brown to start a work for God here? Here is a quote from an old, hand-written history…
“Thomas Brown was working with one fellow workmen who was a Christian, they agreed to meet at Nazeing Chapel one Sunday morning and the Lord met them there…. feeling anxious about their neighbours, they decided to hold a prayer meeting in Mr Brown’s cottage…. so they got some friends…. to assist them in the work of the lord, so God blessed their labours and filled their room.”
“They got a neighbour, Mrs Joseph Thompson to go with them. She also found Christ.”
The work of the Chapel was founded upon people coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a personal way and that remains a key goal.
The Chapel Today
In 1978-80 the Chapel suffered such a decline that by the late 80’s there were only about 2-4 people meeting monthly. The Chapel handed over trusteeship to a Christian Charity “Rural ministries” and much needed building work was carried out. The weekly Sunday Service now has a regular congregation in the mid thirties and is often 40+ , based in a village of only 200 homes quite unusual!
Today the Chapel is once again a vibrant work of God with many regular activities for all age groups with a great involvement and commitment in and to the community.
Due to the growth of the current congregation , plans were being made to enlarge the sanctuary from its current size back to seating for up to 90. In 2018/19 these works were carried out . The main area is now extended , ceiling beams sandblasted , chandelier fitted plus new heating and solid wood floor laid.
The Chapel remains the location for the Parish Council meetings and 2020 saw the commencement of varied community initiatives based in the building. Sadly these have been temporarily paused during the Covid pandemic but we look forward to the future! Continuing as –
“The small Village Church with the big welcome since 1820!”