The Society of Friends (fn. 23)
made converts in Earls Colne from 1655. A
Meeting was held there before 1657, when it
moved to Colne Engaine. (fn. 24) Numbers increased
in the 1660s and 1670s; a meeting house in the
later Burrows Road was built in 1674 and settled
in trust in 1678. (fn. 25) There was a burial ground by
1689. By 1709 the Earls Colne Preparative
Meeting was a member of the Coggeshall
Monthly Meeting; in 1771 it joined with
Hedingham in a joint Preparative Meeting, pre-
sumably because of declining numbers at both
places, but the arrangement seems to have been
temporary. Attendance at the Earls Colne meet-
ing house on census Sunday 1851 was only 11
in the morning and 10 in the afternoon. (fn. 26)
Weekday meetings ceased in 1902, but by 1906
Sunday attendance was increasing. In 1915 the
Meeting was merged with that of Coggeshall,
and some Monthly Meetings were held at Earls
Colne. The Meeting closed during the Second
World War when the meeting house was requisi-
tioned, but reopened as a Particular Meeting in
1949; it amalgamated with Coggeshall in 1966
and with Halstead in 1971. Numbers increased
in the later 20th century as Friends moved into
the area. (fn. 27)
The square meeting house with a pyramidal
roof appears to be early 18th-century; a brick in
the north wall is dated 1733. A central entrance
on the east front was superseded in the 19th
century by a west porch. There is evidence for
a north gallery and for an upper gallery at ceiling
level. The stand along the south wall was added
in the 19th century. (fn. 28) The adjoining hall was
built in 1986. (fn. 29)
A small Baptist congregation, dependent on
the church at Eld Lane, Colchester, moved from
Great Tey to converted cottages on Colne green
and became an independent church in 1786. A
minister was licensed in 1789. (fn. 30) A larger meeting
house was built in 1818, and the pastor claimed
a congregation of c. 400 'hearers' in 1829.
Frequent changes of pastor reduced member-
ship to 42 by 1859. (fn. 31) Nevertheless, on census
Sunday 1851 above average congregations of 168
in the morning and 250 in the afternoon (includ-
ing 46 Sunday School children at both services)
were reported. (fn. 32) The church revived under a
new pastor, G. H. Griffin, and a new chapel to
seat 750 was built in 1861. J. A. Tawell was a
major contributor to the building fund; he
also gave land for a new cemetery in Burrows
Road in 1887, and a house in Upper Holt Street
as a manse in 1885. (fn. 33) Between 1904 and 1907
the pastor, W. Burnett, led local opposition to
the Education Act; he and other church mem-
bers, including J. A. Tawell and several mem-
bers of the Mann family, were fined regularly
for non-payment of school rates. (fn. 34) Although in
1921 the church voted for open membership,
numbers declined for much of the 20th century,
to a low of 33 in 1990; by 1998 they had risen
The yellow-brick church was designed by Mr.
Moore of London in classical meeting-house
style. A two-storeyed schoolroom block was
added at the back in 1899. In 1966 a false ceiling
was inserted at gallery level in the church, and
in 1996 a kitchen, toilets, and storerooms were
added behind the schoolroom.
||Except where otherwise stated the paragraph is based on notes from the records of the Society of Friends at Essex University and in the possession of the Society, made by Valerie Graves, archivist of the Colchester and Coggeshall Monthly Meeting.
Diary of Ralph Josselin, 403.
||Ibid. 581; E.R.O., T/A 425/111; E.R. lvii. 69.
||P.R.O., HO 129/8/207.
Earls Colne 1700-1974, 61.
||C. Stell, Inventory of Chapels and Meeting Houses in Eastern Eng. (R.C.H.M.E., forthcoming).
||R. Kaye, Chapels in Essex, 34.
||T. Henson, Centennial Memorials of the Baptist Ch. in Earls Colne, 3-11: copy in E.R.O.; E.R.O., Q/SBb 335/24.
Centennial Memorials, 12; Earls Colne Baptist Ch., Cttee. Bk. 1843-60, s.a. 1859; E.R.O., Q/CR 3/2/36.
||P.R.O., HO 129/8/207.
Centennial Memorials, 13, 16, and TS. continuation by F. Williams in Earls Colne Baptist Ch.; Earls Colne Baptist Ch., envelope of papers on the cemetery; E.R. xx. 218.
||Earls Colne Baptist Ch., Ch. Meeting Mins. s.a. 1904-1906.