Regimental Chapel

Until 1742 Warley Common was a training ground for the Militia but in that year was designated as a Regular Army Training Area. In 1804 Warley became a permanent station when 116 acres were purchased by the War Office. The East India Company moved from Chatham in 1843 and established its Depot at Warley Barracks. The Chapel was built in 1857 and stands on the site of the former East India Company riding school, the only building large enough to accommodate a congregation for a service or worship.


After the Indian Mutiny the troops of The East India Company were absorbed into the British Army. Warley Barracks became a British Army Garrison and was first used after the mutiny by the Royal Artillery and a few years later became the Depot of The Brigade of Guards.


In 1881 Regiments assumed County titles and Warley became the home of The Essex Regiment, which it remained until the amalgamation of The Essex and Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiments in 1958. Following the 1881 reorganisation the Chapel remained a Garrison Church but was used only by The Essex Regiment. In 1925 General Ventris, then Colonel of Regiment, asked the War Office if the Chapel may be re-designated as The Essex Regiment Chapel. This was agreed in March 1925 (see the stone in the south wall by the side door).


Originally there was little furniture in the Chapel and the pews, screen panelling, lectern and pulpit date from about 1933 and were provided by regimental contributions and donations from towns and boroughs in the County - visitors will be able to identify town crests etc, in different parts of the Chapel, eg, Southend in the choir stalls, the rose window above the main door from Colchester etc.


2nd Battalion The 44th Regiment captured an Eagle from the French 62nd Regiment at the Battle of Salamanca on 22 July 1812. The Eagle was held at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, during World War II, but was returned in 1948 and displayed in this Chapel. In 1973 it was moved to The Essex Regiment Museum at Oaklands Park in Chelmsford The Bell Tower and Chime of Bells was given by the County of Essex and members of the Regiment as a memorial to the 1096 officers and soldiers of The Essex Regiment who gave their lives during World War Two.


The 3rd East Anglian Regiment was formed in 1958 following the amalgamation of The Essex and Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiments and most of Warley Barracks subsequently passed to the Ford Motor Company. The Regimental Chapel and the Depot Officers' Mess (now used as the Regimental Secretary's office) both remain and several other buildings can be identified as having been,part of the Barracks, eg, the Keys Hall and the Marillac Nursing Home. The Royal Anglian Regiment was formed on 1st September 1964 and The 3rd East Anglian Regiment became part of the first of the new large Regiments. The new TA Centre was opened on the Warley site in September 1986 after the closure of the Centre at Chestnut Grove in Brentwood.


It was fitting that, on assuming Borough status, the Freedom of Brentwood was conferred upon The Royal Anglian Regiment on 26 May 1993.

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