Pilgrimage Archive


The keynote speaker, the Rt Revd Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood, gave an inspiring address comparing the long standing and continuing energy of St Peter's Chapel with that from, the now closed, nuclear power station.

The pilgrimage began in the village with worship led by the Bishop of Bradwell, the Rt Revd John Wraw, the Bishop of Brentwood and the Rector, Revd Patrick McEune. Then more than 800 pilgrims set off on the two mile walk to the chapel. On the Chapel field the opening worship was led by Revd Brigid Main, the Chaplain of the Chapel, for the various helpers and disabled pilgrims who had been taken to the field earlier.

During the day we had unbroken sunshine, a warm temperature, and a pleasant breeze from the sea. Our worship at the Chapel, devised by Revd Brigid Main, included brief presentations from a dozen people from all over Essex, and of many different denominations in which they explained what ‘Faith is...’. They then put a piece in a large rainbow jigsaw which formed a cross. At the end of the service we all took a cockle shell home as a reminder of a wonderful and inspiring day. Cockle shells are a symbol of pilgrimage as the ribs on the shell start apart but then converge and then join together, just as we had done. Today's shells were gathered from the beach by pilgrims between the services.

Our singing at the village church was accompanied by the Rayleigh Salvation Army band and the worship band of Christ Church, Braintree, led the services at the Chapel. Thanks go to the many pilgrims who attended the day, especially to the young people who had walked from St Mark's Audley End, Saffron Walden, and to all who contributed to its success.

Bishop of Bradwell, the Rt Revd John Wraw leading the 2013 pilgrimage from Bradwell village to St Peter's Chapel

Part of the large rainbow jigsaw

The keynote speaker 2013
Rt Revd Thomas McMahon


The Pilgrimage was led by the former Zimbabwean test cricket international Henry Olonga and the theme was Peace and Reconciliation. This theme was most apt for fast bowler Henry who risked his life to speak out against Robert Mugabe's regime in 2003 and achieved international recognition with team-mate Andy Flower by protesting against the policies of Zimbabwe's government. This led to the issue of a warrant for Olonga's arrest on charges of treason, which carries the death penalty in Zimbabwe, and forced him to flee the country and settle in Britain.


"Walking with the Word." The 2011 Pilgrimage started with the signing of the continuing agreement between the Dioceses of Chelmsford and Karlstad by the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell and the Rt Revd Esbjörn Hagberg. To quote from the service: “The relationship between the Dioceses of Chelmsford and Karlstad began in 1986. Following the Porvoo Declaration in 1995, the Church of England has been in full communion with the Church of Sweden and our two dioceses signed a formal partnership agreement in 1997. Today we are renewing the Agreement as an expression of our deepening relationship and commitment to support each other in mission and ministry.” The speakers for the main service were the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford and Rt Revd Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood.


The 2009 pilgrimage was on the theme of "One". One Hope, One People, etc and was organised by Churches Together in Essex and East London (CTEEL), with a variety of church leaders from the various denominations joining us on the day.


This year the theme was ‘water’ and to keep with the theme Pilgrims wore something blue. During the gentle two-mile stroll everybody reflected on the unique and special character of this place, and the giant leap made by Saint Cedd when he brought Christianity to Essex in AD 654. During the day there was a Renewal of Vows service on the beach and reflections and presentations on the theme of ‘water’.


The pilgrimage was conducted by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.


With Brother Damian SSF Vicar of Holy Island Lindisfarne: Brother Damian was born in London in 1941. After qualifying as an accountant and working for a short time with (U)SPG he joined the Anglican Franciscans in 1963 as a tertiary and in 1966 as a friar. He has served in the Society of St Francis in various chaplaincies in Belfast and Birmingham, has been bursar to the Society for more years than he can remember, and was elected Provincial for the UK from 1991-2002. At the time of the pilgrimage he was Vicar of Holy Island (Lindisfarne) from where, of course, St Cedd originally came down to Bradwell! His talk is reproduced here.


With Father Wilfrid McGreal O Carm, Prior of 'The Friars' Priory, Aylsford, Kent.

With the Rt Revd John Gladwin, Bishop of Chelmsford.

With Colonel Margaret Hay of the Salvation Army.


With Adrian Plass, Christian Writer and Speaker:

Adrian, our speaker for 2002, offered an enlightening, amusing, and thoroughly thought-provoking message. He told us how he had overcome serious personal problems and that he had been guided by God to become the internationally recognised writer and speaker that he now is.

The essence of his message was: "Trust to God. Your role and purpose will be made clear". Of particular note, and perhaps the most surprising, was his belief and advice that "In everything we do, nothing is wasted".

He said that whatever life throws at you, and whatever experiences you have, or decisions you make, nothing but nothing is wasted. Everything that happens to us has a purpose.

Pilgrimages can be fun, thanks to everybody who worked so hard to make it a success after last year's cancelled event.

Pilgrimages can be entertaining. Beautiful music in the Chapel thanks to Annie Mawson and two young musicians.


Cancelled due to foot and mouth disease.

Unfortunately the 2001 Pilgrimage was cancelled when foot and mouth disease hit Britain's farming industry and caused most of the English and Welsh countryside to be be declared a no-go area for the public. Such drastic closure was necessary to prevent the disease spreading any faster than it was by natural means. With no access to the the Chapel, which is surrounded by farmland, it was sadly necessary to cancel that year's pilgrimage.


With the Reverend Dr Leslie Griffiths:


The Pilgrimage started with opening worship at St Thomas's Church in Bradwell village at 11:00 am. We then walked approximately two miles to St Peter's Chapel, for an ecumenical service for all denominations. The theme for our first service of the 21st century was "Gathering the People of God".

The speaker is the Revd Dr Leslie J Griffiths M.A, Superintendent Minister of Wesley's Chapel, London.


The theme for Pilgrimage 2010 was "Who is my Neighbour?" and the main speaker was The Rt Revd Dr John Sentamu (right), Archbishop of York. The event began as usual at St Thomas' Church Bradwell-on-Sea at 11.00. Pilgrims then walked to the Chapel where there was music, worship, guest speakers, children's and youth activities, and community singing.

Rt Revd Dr Bishop Laurie Green and

The Rt Revd Dr Archbishop John Sentamu at the 2010 Pilgrimage.

Left: Starting the service at the Chapel.

Above: Welcome and opening prayers from
The Rt Reverend Laurie Green, Bishop of Bradwell.

Right: Speaker, Reverend Dr Leslie J Griffiths MA,
Superintendent Minister of Wesley's Chapel, London.

The Pilgrims

 Dancers from the Salvation Army

Visitors from Germany,

Holland and Poland
(Picture courtesy of Martin Riemer)


With The Reverend David Bryant.

The theme for 1999 was Renewing our Spiritual Roots. The address was given by the Reverend David Bryant, Vicar of Lastingham. The full text of the address can be read here, take a few moments to read and enjoy it.

The Blessing:

May the road rise to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm on your face

The rain fall soft upon your fields

And until we meet again

May God hold you

In the hollow of his hand. Amen.


One of the UK’s most influential black Christian women leaders was the keynote speaker at the Pilgrimage this year. The Revd Dr Kate Coleman, current Chair of the Evangelical Alliance Council, the UK’s largest organisation serving evangelical Christians, was invited to lead the Pilgrimage because of her inspirational style. She was president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain in 2006/7 and is founder and co-director of Next Leadership, an organisation committed to inspiring men and women to become leaders in church life, public and private companies and the voluntary sector.

Kate is a popular preacher, teacher, speaker, lecturer and strategic advisor with over 26 years’ pastoral and leadership experience. The Pilgrimage, which had a theme of “Sending Out”, broke with tradition for 2014 by being held on the second Saturday of July instead of the first. This was as a result of date clashes with other major Christian events.


The theme - ‘Generous Welcome.’

The speaker for 2015 was the writer, speaker, spiritual accompanier, Michael Mitton.

Michael is a freelance writer, speaker and trainer offering a variety of services to individuals and groups and churches. He is also the part-time Fresh Expressions Officer for the Derby Diocese and Priest-in-charge of St Paul's Church, Chester Green, and an honorary canon of Derby Cathedral.

In 2012 his book ‘Travellers of the Heart’ was published. This book explores the different spiritualities that have been important to Michael on his journey through life.


The long-running Bradwell Pilgrimage relaunches as the Bradwell Festival this year and will extend the opportunity for Christians from different traditions to come together with a programme of events and activities over the whole weekend.

The Bradwell Festival’s tag line, ‘Connect. Celebrate’, sets the tone for a festival that is rooted in ecumenism: it will offer a place for Christians to connect with one another through pilgrimage and worship, to be inspired and challenged by different speakers, to enjoy a variety of music, and simply to have time and space to be together, and celebrate with one another.

The pilgrimage itself will begin the weekend’s activities. This year, for the first time, there are two different routes, reflecting the different starting points and journeys we take as Christians, as well as the different walks of life from which we come.

The traditional pilgrimage walk through the village of Bradwell-on-Sea will begin at St Thomas’ Church at 11 am, while a second route, starting at the same time from The Green Man pub at the Marina, will follow the sea wall by the Blackwater Estuary.

On arrival at the site of St Peter’s Chapel at different times and from different places, people will be led in worship by John Pantry, well-known local musician and broadcaster.

The rest of the weekend will continue with a variety of bands, musicians, speakers and other attractions, concentrated in St Peter’s Chapel field and the Othona Community site, as well as at other locations in the village.

Entry to the Bradwell Festival is free this year, though donations are welcome, but please book your free ticket via their website: www.bradwellfestival.com.

Please watch this site for further information about what will be an exciting new venture!