Connect With Us


The beginnings

The origins of St. Cedd’s Church lie in the developments that took place in the years after the second World War on the Stifford Clays Estate.

Private houses had been built for many years in the Nutberry and Long Lane areas, but there was now a great need for more homes. Consequently, in the early 1950’s, Thurrock Council decided to build an Estate on the land bordered by Long Lane and Stifford Clays Road. Rev Simmons, the current rector of Stifford Parish, realised that there would soon be a need for a bigger, more permanent church than the existing ‘Mission Hall’ at Nutberry (a site in Long Lane on the south-west corner of what was the track leading to Stifford Clays Farm, and is now Crawford Avenue), and it was decided to build a church within the new estate, on land belonging to Grays parish. Rev Simmons was 80 years old, yet his enthusiasm and stamina were amazing. He contacted the Bishop and rallied the parishioners to this new challenge.

Work started on the Stifford Clays Estate and in 1952 the first tenants started to move into their houses in Crawford Avenue and Crammavill Street. When names were chosen for the various roads in Stifford Clays, links were made with the history of the area, by choosing, in many cases, names of those who had been prominent in the life of Stifford or Grays. Among these are Crammavill (the Crammavill family owned Stifford Manor in the 13th Century), Whitmore (the Whitmore family gave the land for St Cedd's church) and Crawford (who during this time was farming Stifford Clays farm), and the names of several past Rectors of the parish. When Rev. Simmons was told he was to have a road named after him, he insisted that it should not be Simmons Road, and he is accordingly commemorated with Simmons Place. As the building of more houses proceeded, the rector determined to try to visit each new family as they moved in - a mammoth task!

The foundations are laid!

More and more children were coming to the Mission Hall and it was soon crowded, so Rev Simmons encouraged the Sunday School children to take an interest in the proposed building. Three little girls from Nutberry - Jennifer, Janet and Mary - decided to hold a 'fete' in Janet's garden, to raise money for the new church. Parents and neighbours were invited, and the proceeds, about £2, were presented to the Sunday School Superintendent to be used ‘for the New Sunday School’.

Meanwhile, a large piece of land was fenced round and a huge notice board announced that "This site has been given by Lady Whitmore for a Church, Hall, and Parsonage". Workmen arrived, and the foundations were dug with the intention that when the walls were about four feet high the foundation stone was to be laid.

With the death of Rev Simmons after a ministry of 30 years in the parish, Stifford was given into the care of a new, young rector, Patrick Simpson. Despite the ups and downs experienced by both rector and parishioners during the five years of Rev Simpson's ministry (1955-60), there is little doubt that, at that precise moment in the history of Stifford, he was the man for the job. It was a time of tremendous growth in the life of the church in Stifford Clays.

1959 Harvest Supper, held in St Cedd's Church, before the current Hall was built. This was the last Harvest Supper with Rev Simpson before Leslie Smart arrived in 1960.

St Cedd's in the 1960s

The 1st January 1956 saw the first issue of "The Link" - the new parish magazine of Stifford, which was delivered to every house, free of charge. A short time previously, at the end of 1955, 24 adults had been confirmed by the Bishop, and although succeeding years saw peaks and lows on the graph of church life in the parish, many of the seeds sown at that time were to come to fruition in later years.

After Rev Simpson's five years in Stifford, Leslie Smart was appointed as rector, though he only stayed a year, (1960-1) before ill-health forced him to resign. He was followed by William Smith (1961-66), under whose guidance the Pram Services for mothers and young children flourished, and St Cedd's was full of prams and mums on Pram Service Day - work with children was William Smith's forte. But Rev Smith was a bachelor, and must have rattled round like the proverbial 'pea on a drum' in the large Victorian rectory. He moved on to pastures new, and Albert Jones came to be rector (1966-73).

St Cedd's had been built as a dual-purpose church. Folding doors could be drawn across the Sanctuary, and the body of the church used as a hall for recreational purposes. The present creche was a stage for amateur dramatics and the storeroom next to the kitchen was the ladies cloakroom. In the early years of St Cedd's, all social activities took place in the church. By the late 50s/early 60s, the Youth Club run by the two Mr. Clarks was in full swing and the parquet floor was perfect for jive or ballroom dancing. Many bazaars, dances and concerts were held here, but from time to time came the suggestion that it would be better to have a proper hall.

The Parish Hall is built

The Parish Hall, however, had not always been planned to occupy its present site. According to the original plans show that St Cedd's as we know it was originally to be the Church Hall until the ‘New Church’ was built with an accompanying Vicarage. By 1963, it had become apparent that the funds for the new buildings were never going to be raised. A committee was instituted to build a much cheaper hall so that the existing building could be dedicated solely to worship. Some of the land was sold to raise funds for the new hall and the Health Centre now stands on the land that was sold.

Boxes were given out to help people to save, and money-raising events of all kinds were organised. After much hard work and saving, a Parish Hall was erected in the grounds of St Cedd's church. On Sunday 6th September 1970 the Bishop of Bradwell joined a large congregation for Evensong at St Cedd’s, and after the service dedicated the new hall.

As a result of these original plans, it was discovered in the 1990s that not only was St Cedd's not licensed for marriages, it was not licensed for worship at all. Instead it was licensed for public music and dancing!

St. Cedd's Sunday Services - 10:30 am

1st Sunday: Family Worship

2nd Sunday: Holy Communion

3rd Sunday: Morning Worship

4th Sunday: Holy Communion

5th Sunday: Evening Praise and Celebration#

# 6.30pm. No morning service on this Sunday of the month

St. Mary's Sunday Services - 11:15 am

1st Sunday: Holy Communion*

2nd Sunday: Morning Prayer

3rd Sunday: Holy Communion

4th Sunday: Family Worship

5th Sunday: Parish Family Communion

* 6:30 pm (4 pm during Winter month). No morning service on this Sunday of the month