Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

St. Thomas of Canterbury Chapel (Brentwood)

The chapel of St. Thomas of Canterbury is a picturesque ruin in the old Essex market town of Brentwood.

The chapel was founded in the 13th century, to cater for the many pilgrims who passed through Brentwood on their way to Canterbury, Bury St. Edmunds and Walsingham.

In the 13th century, the great magnate Hubert de Burgh, owner among other properties of Hadleigh Castle, was accused of treachery and sought sanctuary in the chapel. Sanctuary was ignored by Henry III's soldiers, who dragged him out. This led to the Pope threatening the King with excommunication, and de Burgh returned to the chapel, but only until the 39 day sanctuary period expired. He was pardoned, and lived quietly in retirement in Norfolk.

Most of the chapel was demolished in the19th century, after brief use as a National School. What is left is the stump of the tower and a few bits of wall.

For years, the remains stood beside the Odeon Cinema. This, though, is now demolished and in its place is a small indoor shopping centre.

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