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Concert Venue

Christ Church Braintree, Essex

Drawing of Christ Church by Jill Davison the Orchestra Leader The present Christ Church was built as a Congregational Church in 1833 at a cost of 1400. The were very few houses in the area then and the Church would have been surrounded by fields. It had seating for 900 people but because there was no separate vestible at the back it was very draughty and sometimes needed curtains over the doors. Originally there was a centre aisle and pews extended from the pulpit to the back of the Church. The church was altered in 1973 to remove the central pulpit and choir pews. The rest of the downstairs pews were replaced with moveable seating in a major refurbishment in 1993.

The Church Hall was built around 1865 for the Sunday School. Following the opening ceremonies 500 people sat down to tea in the hall and adjoining three classrooms. In later years it has been used for Olde Tyme Dancing, Scottish Dancing, Keep Fit, Slimming, Flower Arranging, the Nursery School founded in 1969 and Mums' and Toddlers' groups. The Church Drama Group staged their production there.

The first organ was installed in 1867 and replaced in 1879. It had a major rebuild in 1963. From 1895 the church was used for non-denominational meetings for men with a soloist and brass band.

New electric lighting was installed in 1943. Presumably it was gas before that. By 1947 heating had become a major problem not helped by rationing and an acute shortage of coal. Services were only held then so long as the weather was not exceptionally cold. New gas heating was installed in 1960.

In 1972 the Congregational Church amalgamated with the Presbyterian Church to become the United Reform Church. After several years of discussion the Methodist Church and United Reform Church combined in the one building in 1987 following which the Rayne Road Methodist Church was demolished to make way for the town centre redevelopment. The three stained glass windows behind the pulpit here were transferred from the Methodist Church. The ministry alternates every 5 years between a Methodist Minister and a United Reform Minister. In excess of 400 young people use the church for various reasons every week.

The C.P.O. first used this church for their concerts in 1990. It is an excellent venue with a fine acoustic.

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