The Ministry Team with responsibility for the parishes of Wisbech St Mary with Guyhirn & Rings End; Parson Drove (Southea) with Murrow; Gorefield:
Rev’d Canon Matthew Bradbury
Wisbech St Mary
Tel: 01945 410814
Rev’d Ryk Parkinson
Tel: 01945 465818
Brian Payne ALM
Tel: 01945 410755
Mrs Lillian Brigden LLM
Tel: 01945 450481
Mike Brown ALM
Tel: 01945 700085
Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals are regularly held at Emmanuel Church and the churchyard is accessible at all times.
In the interests of safety and security during renovation work Emmanuel church is kept locked –
Key available from Rev’d Canon Matthew Bradbury or Mike Brown.
We do hope that you will find something to interest you in what is a very interesting and exciting development of Emmanuel Church. The structure has been altered little since its inception 140 years ago and improvements are definitely needed to bring our parish church into the 21st century whilst maintaining its essential character and proud designation as a Grade II listed building.
Please feel free to visit us during regular service times or on the occasion of any of the events that will be possible once renovation work is completed.
The altar and choir stalls at the east end of the church
The chancel is a beautiful curved structure in red brick with decorative arched windows, and the eye is taken to the magnificent painted domed ceiling
Regular Services: Everyone is Welcome
Family Service 1st Sunday each month
Communion Service – 2nd & 3rd Sundays at 9:30am
Breakfast Church 4th Sunday at 9:30am
Breakfast church is a combined informal service with the congregation of St Mark’s Chapel and is held in the chapel. Join us for cereal, toast, croissants, coffee, tea and fruit juice.
Then . . .
Parson Drove had been a township and chapelry of Leverington with St John the Baptist its main centre of worship since the 13th century. In 1870 it became a separate ecclesiastical district.
Emmanuel Church, Southea was built in 1872 in the Early English style and was the last of the churches to be built under the provisions of the Leverington Rectory Bill, also having responsibility for Murrow Chapel of Ease (Corpus Christi). The Vicarage was also built at this time and both were designed by Ecclesiastical Commissioners architect, Ewan Christian and built by Mr Bennett of Kings Lynn at a cost of £2,000 for the church and £1700 for the Vicarage.
The curate who had been in charge of Leverington for 16 years was appointed to the living and Emmanuel Church was opened by the Bishop of Ely, the Right Rev’d Edward Browne in 1873. After the benediction the churchyard was consecrated.
Its official designation is Emmanuel Church, Southea - which can cause confusion to visitors searching for the village of Southea which appears not to exist on many maps or in directories. It is now more commonly and locally referred to as Emmanuel Church, Parson Drove.
A visitor from English Heritage describes the design of the church as “being unusual , being built of red brick with horizontal lines of black brick all around the outside at varying levels. It has a steep, slated roof, a small sanctus bell turret and a south porch of blackened wood. ”
For some time Emmanuel was known as the ‘New Church’ and was the proud owner of 4 chandeliers taken from St Paul’s Cathedral. There are currently only 3 chandeliers and the disappearance of the other has been the cause of speculation for several decades and the whole truth may never be fully known.
Sources: English Heritage; Wisbech Advertiser (June 1873); Cambridgeshire Times
And Now . . .
For many years suggestions and plans have been put forward to make Emmanuel Church ‘user friendly’
The current electric heating is totally inadequate for a building of this size with high, vaulted ceilings. The original boiler room and heating pipes were decommissioned many years ago, but perhaps the single most important aspect is the inability to ‘spend a penny’.
Whilst the church hall was available and habitable the urgency could be shelved! But now a planning application to provide a loo for all who use Emmanuel Church has been submitted to Fenland District Council, and additional improvements are in the pipeline to improve the porch, repair the windows and provide access for disabled and elderly persons. Some of this work has already begun and the windows above the west door are currently under repair and renovation. The condition of the floor, badly woodworm infested and inconveniently placed varying levels, needs also to be addressed. All of this work has to be carried out sensitively and mindful of Emmanuel’s Grade II listing and is, of course, extensive and expensive. Many plans are afoot to raise the necessary funding through events, grants and donations and any assistance in this will be gratefully accepted.
Emmanuel Church is a Fenland Victorian building, Grade II listed in 1983, often filled to capacity for funerals, weddings and baptisms but it is important that we continue to maintain, improve and update facilities for a variety of uses by its community, whilst keeping the character and importance of a very precious part of the Parson Drove heritage for use by future generations.