Chadwell St Mary

Chadwell St Mary is a small village a few miles east of Grays in Essex.

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History of Chadwell St Mary

Here are some interesting Historical Facts about Chadwell St Mary

  • Not much is known of the occupation in Chadwell until the Saxon period of British history. Artifacts found (some of which are in the local museum in Grays) show that the area was inhabited in the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages.[7]

    It is known that there was a sizeable non-military Roman settlement to the south of the road between Chadwell and West Tilbury. A Roman oven was found in this location in 1922 containing three complete pots, fragments of others and a small clay lamp, all of which were given to Colchester Museum.[8] In the early Roman period, sea-levels dropped, making the marshes inhabitable and there may have been a Roman settlement on the site of what is now Tilbury Docks.[9]

    An archaeological investigation during the construction of new facilities for Chadwell Primary school recently discovered a complete site of a Saxon sunken floored hut (Grubenhaus) from the 6th century.[10]

    The name Chadwell is first recorded in Domesday in 1086. Since then, the community has economically continued to thrive on fertile soil and good communication links with the outside world over the centuries.

    Origins of the parish name

    Chadwell means "cold spring".[11] Confusingly another old word (Chaud) means a warm. St. Mary was added to the name in Victorian times to reduce confusion with Chadwell Heath, near Romford. There is, however, another more romantic, but less academically respectable theory as to how the name of Chadwell originated.

    St Chad's Well

    A 19th century directory is tersely specific. "Chadwell St Mary takes its name from a well blessed by St Chad whose bishopric was at Tilbury".[12] Thurrock's earliest historian, William Pallin, described the well: "Descending the hill from the venerable church, we find ourselves on the border of the level, face to face with an ancient well, having more the appearance of a tank, wide and shallow, large enough to walk into, just such as the apostolic Chad might be thought to choose for the baptism of his East Saxon converts".[13] "St Chad’s Well” is shown on the late 19th century 6” Ordnance Survey map, just north and east of the roundabout at the bottom of Chadwell Hill, although, the modern Ordnance Survey map appears to place it a few yards away, just south of Marshfoot Road – roughly on the site of the Gateway Academy. By 1980 the well had disappeared, but Arthur Astbury[14] was able to conclude that "it is likely that it was Roman, and the road beside it. It is presumably the cold well that gave Chadwell its name”. However, the English Heritage National Monuments Record describes the feature as medieval (or post medieval).[15]

    There are other problems with "St Chad's Well". It was not St Chad, but St. Cedd, a Christian Missionary to the Mercians, whose bishopric was at Tilbury. He built churches in several places, two of which were at Ithancester (Bradwell on Sea) and Tilbury. The church at Bradwell, St Peter on the Wall, is still standing, but the site of the church at Tilbury is not known. Cedd was one of four brothers, all of who were priests, the others being Chad, Caelin and Cynibill. Although St Cedd was certainly active in the Thurrock area, there is no evidence that Chad ever visited Essex. The confusion may have arisen because a large part of what we know today as Tilbury was in the Parish of Chadwell St Mary; indeed until the early part of the 20th century St Mary's was the Parish Church for the developments around Tilbury Docks.

    There are a number of places in Essex said to be named after Chad, with whom Cedd is regularly confused and there are eight towns or villages in Essex that have the termination 'Well', which in Anglo-Saxon meant 'spring'. However, "Chad's Well" is not consistent with any early forms of the parish name.[11] It is nonetheless a very common name – there are apparently 42 instances of "St Chad’s Well" in different parts of the UK.[16] The most likely reason is relatively modern confusion about the place name, Chadwell, which means (in old English) “cold spring” rather than having any connection with St Chad.

    If the village name had retained its ancient Domesday form, Celdewella, St Chad would in all likelihood be forgotten in Thurrock