The Parish Chest

The story of life and the people who have lived in Little Baddow is told through the photographs, pictures, documents and artefacts that make up the village history collections. Originally housed – literally – in a chest, this forms the core of our collection, and provides an archive of life in the village. It is from this ‘Parish Chest’ collection that material is extracted to display in our various exhibitions.

.. a corner of one of our exhibitions of material from the chest.

The History Centre provides facilities for public access to the material and work is constantly ongoing to computerise the indexes of the various collections.

We welcome additional material for the various collections and are keen to record village events and obtain copies of photographs, newspaper reports and any other items of interest on any subject relating to Little Baddow.

If you have any material that could be included, please contact us.

Looking for something?

The most popular of our ‘browsing folders’ are those listing family names. Take a quick look and see if your ancestors feature there. If not, just ask us to look up a name, of the name of a house perhaps, in our index.

And you might also want to search our on-line database. Just click the ‘Database’ link at the top of this page.

See the village through the eyes of Edwardian photographers!

The original parish chest…

It has grown since then, and now comprises an archive of many thousands of documents, photographs and artefacts!

We are particularly keen to obtain photographs of people or places that are no longer with us, as ‘Bowling Alley House’, here, which has been demolished.

We are always happy to copy original documents or photographs for our collection and return the originals to you.

Browsing and reference…

Our original documents, photographs and other material are held securely and in carefully controlled conditions, to ensure that they survive for the benefit of future generations. Unfortunately, we are therefore unable to allow any of this archive material to be removed from the History Centre.

However, we have a photocopier available and you are welcome to copy what you need for your own personal use and research.

We also have browsing folders, some containing material from earlier exhibitions, and providing a quick and easy way of getting to know the history of the village.

There are also a number of books and pamphlets which may be borrowed from the Centre – please just ask the volunteer on duty to sign it out for you.

Chapel History

Work is ongoing to index the records and artefacts relating to the United Reformed Chapel, built in Little Baddow in 1707.

Our “Chapel History” exhibition and other material is available to view by prior arrangement.  Please contact us for further information.

The Chapel China Collection

Photograph © Bert Collis

Mrs Helen Harris, whose late husband’s ministry to Congregational and URC congregations covered Northamptonshire and Essex, has since the 1960s steadily collected specimens of tea services owned by Congregational, Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian chapels, and her collection comprises examples from almost forty different places of worship throughout England. She was motivated by the desire to preserve memory of the days when a good Chapel tea was such an important part of the social activity of Nonconformist congregations.

Mrs Harris has given the collection to the History Centre and we have now photographed and recorded as much detail about each individual piece as we can readily obtain, and have portions of the collection on permanent display. We are thrilled and enormously grateful to Mrs Helen Harris for her generous gift and are extending the collection.

Calling all Chapels and Churches, Past and Present!

If you have items marked with your Chapel’s name we would love to have an example to preserve it in our unique collection of Chapel Teaware. We will gladly pay packing and postage or arrange to collect. This way we can conserve and commemorate your past.

Please contact the History Centre for full details about the collection.

The Living Churchyard Scheme

The Chapel joined the Living Churchyard project in 1990.  Around 90% of our unimproved meadowland has been lost over the last 50 years and it was realised that Churchyards, being so little disturbed, could play a vital role in saving the loss of many species of plants and insects, not just the rare, but those which had been commonplace at the beginning of the century.

Gradually, plants and insects have returned and the fine grasses of the original old meadow have been allowed to reach maturity in selected spots.

Many specimens and a photographic collection which record these changes are available to view by arrangement.  Please contact us for further details.