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Twenty-five years of dedicated volunteering by Arts Society West Essex members

In 1992 a group of volunteers from among members of then WEDFAS (West Essex Decorative and Fine Arts Society) answered the call from the group’s national headquarters to start recording the treasures of local churches. Twenty-five years - and many thousands of hours of dedicated work - later the group has completed recording its tenth and last local church.

At its first meeting this year chairman Lis Goodwin of what is now The Arts Society West Essex paid tribute to “this amazing achievement” and thanked all those who had made possible this outstanding contribution to local and Church of England history.

The group came together under Eva Bootle who led the first project, the recording of Theydon Garnon Church. Angela Peachey took over and guided the group as it tackled its next nine projects, the most recent, Epping Upland, being completed at the end of last year. Others recorded are Lambourne, Stapleford Abbotts, Magdalen Laver, Little Laver, High Laver (with Area), North Weald, Chigwell (with Bancrofts) and Epping St Johns. A number of other members have assisted over the years but more recently the group under Angela Peachey has consisted of Peggy Nash, Shirley Bonnett, Gill Wallace, Joyce Fraser, Sheila Hawes, Ruth Benjamin and Janet Wallace. For most of the records, till the last, Fiona Mellor was the typist.

Following the guidelines of English Heritage and the Victoria and Albert Museum memorials, metalwork, stonework, woodwork, textiles, paintings, library, windows gave been meticulously listed  along with anything else judged to be of of interest or value

Said Lis Goodwin: “A deep debt of gratitude is owed to all those who have contributed to this detailed and painstaking work over 25 years. Thank you!”

TOP The Church copy of the Epping Upland Record to the rector, The Rev. Lee Batson by Joyce Fraser (left) and Angela Peachey. Right: Epping Upland Church

Four year project to record St. John's, Epping

Over four years the West Essex DFAS Church Recorder team worked quietly away to document St. John the Baptist Church, Epping (pictured above and below).

Many hundreds of hours have been spent cataloguing the contents and possessions in case of loss through fire or theft. 

Since 1992 the group, largely unchanged, has completed the recording of  NINE churches in West Essex 

As laid down by English Heritage and V&A they have recorded memorials, metalwork, stonework,
woodwork, textiles, paintings, library, windows and anything else of interest or value.

The churches they have recorded are: 

Theydon Garnon (leader Eva Bootle); Lambourne; Stapleford Abbotts;

Magdalen Laver; Little Laver;

High Laver (with others); North Weald;

Chigwell (with Bancrofts); St John the Baptist, Epping.


Nationally, some 1750 churches have been recorded, around 120 of them in Essex.

The heroic West Essex church recorders have included Angela Peachey as WEDFAS leader; Margaret Nash; Shirley Bonnett; Gill Wallace; Joyce Fraser;  Sheila Hawes; Sue Dowler; Jenny Berry; Ruth Benjamin;  Janet Wallace;

Fiona Mellor.

A deep debt of gratitude is owed to all those who have contributed to this detailed and painstaking work over 25 years. Thank you!

Volunteers wanted


Fancy joining the artefacts cleaning group at Copped Hall three or four times a year prior to Open Days?  Next date is Saturday 26 May 10.00 -13.00.

Our Heritage Volunteers are regular visitors to Copped Hall assisting with popular open days polishing silver and adding character in costume

Jubilee Lodge is a local charity providing wonderful support in the community and we are proud to be able to offer them support in turn (above)

Haven House provides support for terminally ill children and their parents. We have assisted them through raising funds for their great work (below)

THE ARTS SOCIETY WEST ESSEX supplied the materials for primary school pupils visiting Copped Hall.  Above is what some of the young talent achieved

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