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.

tea pot

... anyone for tea?

china display

Part of our permanent display.

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.


Much of our material is made available via our exhibitions, and we have Browsing Folders containing copies of material from earlier exhibitions - just ask for whatever subject interests you.









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 Chapel China Collection

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.

chinaShe 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.

Photograph © Bert Collis

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 either Alastair Stewart on 01245 222445 or Alison Harker  on 07817 520107 for full details about the collection.

The Living Churchyard Scheme

elderThe 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.

Hooker and Eliot

Thomas Hooker was a Puritan minister who became lecturer at St Mary's, Chelmsford (now the Cathedral) in 1626.  His Puritan views attracted the attention and displeasure of Archbishop Laud and he was eventually forced to leave Chelmsford.  He was invited by 'some eminent persons' to open a school in Little Baddow (at Cuckoos Farm) with John Eliot as his assistant.  Little Baddow's residents had strong Puritan leanings, probably following the lead of Sir Henry Mildmay of Graces and the Barrington family of Tofts.

Thomas Hooker was eventually forced to flee England, and after a brief stay in Holland he embarked for Boston, Massachusetts to join a group of his Essex followers known as 'Mr Hooker's Company'.  They eventually moved to the Connecticut valley to a riverside site which became known as Hartford.  Thomas Hooker was instrumental in drafting the "Fundamental Orders" - a democratic governmental plan that was eventually adopted into the American Constitution.

John Eliot had also taken ship for New England, settling at Roxbury near Boston and becoming pastor and teacher there - a ministry which lasted 60 years.  He began ministering to the Indians in 1646, publishing an Indian translation of the Bible - the first Bible to be printed in America.

In the 1980s Deryck Collingwood, then Minister of the Chapel discovered Little Baddow's links to Hooker and Eliot and the founding of these communities in northern America.  Contact was established with the churches of Hartford and Roxbury and since then there has been a regular exchange of visits and correspondence. 

Each year in July an open-air service is held at Cuckoos to commemorate these links. Deryck Collingwood left his research archive to the village and work has begun to index it.

Our "Hooker and Eliot" exhibition is available to view by prior arrangement.  Please contact us for further information.

The original 'parish chest'...


... it has grown since then!

We are particularly keen to obtain for the chest 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.

Books for reference...

The Parish Chest includes many books that may be consulted at the History Centre. Here is a small selection of what we have available:

Jesse Berridge was both a local historian and a novelist. We have copies of the following novels:

Brother John

The Stronghold


Gracys Walk

The Tudor Rose

And among his other works…

Little Things

And three booklets:

Little Baddow in the Middle Ages

Little Baddow in the 16th Century

Little Baddow in the 17th Century

There is also Edward Thomas’  Letters to Jesse Berridge

Deryck Collingwood  Thomas Hooker: Father of American Democracy  (we also have copies of this title for sale)

Arthur Mee  Essex

And for our neighbouring villages…

Woodham Walter: a village history

Boreham and More About Boreham

Reference only... Sorry!

Our books, 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 our Parish Chest material to be removed from the History Centre.

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