Chelmsford Cathedral
US Connection

The links between Chelmsford Cathedral and North America go back to the days of the Pilgrim Fathers. Thomas Hooker, who in around 1626 became a preacher at what was then St Mary’s Parish Church (now the Cathedral), was forced to retire to Little Baddow in 1629 because of his Puritan tendencies. After fleeing for a time to Holland, he emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was very influential in founding the State of Connecticut.

In recognition of this, on the wall of the narrow alleyway just outside the grounds near the Cathedral there is a blue plaque fixed high on the wall of the narrow alleyway, opposite the south porch, that reads: "Thomas Hooker, 1586 - 1647, Curate at St. Mary’s Church and Chelmsford Town Lecturer 1626-29. Founder of the State of Connecticut, Father of American Democracy.”

The South Porch

During the second world war, there were several US airforce bases in Essex. As a memorial to the 'tasks and friendships shared’, the south porch was greatly enriched in 1953. The windows were unveiled in that year by Field Marshal Viscount Lord Montgomery and General Griswold, USAF. The memorial consists of heraldic stained glass, both in the porch itself and in the library above; carved oak doors, benches with monograms and an inscribed floor of Portland stone. The monograms stand for the English-Speaking Union and its local counterpart, the Essex Anglo-American Goodwill Association. The window includes the Arms of the sovereign and the floral emblems of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland and the shamrock of Ireland. In the window may be seen also, to the left, the Arms of the Diocese of Chelmsford and to the right, the Arms of the County of Essex, bearing three swords. The oak leaves and acorns which encircle the windows are appropriate for a county which has no natural building stone (being mainly composed of clay on a bed of chalk) and which has always relied on timber as a building material - as can be seen in the ancient timber church at Greensted and in many church towers, barns and houses in Essex. The carved timber ceiling of the porch shows how elegantly this material can be used. In the windows on the western side may be seen emblems of the USA, including that of the Department of the Air Force. In the centre is the eagle, holding the olive branch of peace in one talon and in the other the arrows of war, with the motto E Pluribus Unum, the stripes of the US flag and the thirteen stars arranged in a flower above. To the right one can see the inspiration for the Stars and Stripes in the Washington family coat of arms (President George Washington was the great-great-grandson of a Rector of Purleigh in Essex): the arms of the family area white shield with two red stripes across the middle and three red stars above them. 


















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