Thursday 09th February, 2023 6:28 am


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  Emmanuel Church, SOUTHEA (PARSON DROVE)

The Ministry Team with responsibility for the parishes of Wisbech St Mary with Guyhirn & Rings End; Parson Drove (Southea) with Murrow; Gorefield:

Priest in Charge
Rev’d Ryk Parkinson
Tel: 01945 580146

Mrs Lillian Brigden LLM
Tel:  01945 450481


Pam Williams 01945 701047
Ann Beldom 01945 464574

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 Emmanuel church is kept locked –
Key available from the Churchwardens..

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 were 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 are regularly held in the church.

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’ and this was addressed in 2014, when the building underwent a refurbishment programme, which included stripping out the old worm infested floors and replacing them with a new flat floor giving safe simple access to wheelchair or mobility scooter users.

An extension was built to house an accessible toilet facility and a small servery unit installed at the west end of the church. The opportunity was taken, whilst the church was under renovation to install a modern gas-fired boiler and central heating system. The leaded light windows have mostly been re-leaded, eliminating draughts across the church. The final phase of the works was to replace the old pews with modern, movable, stackable ones made by a village craftsman from English Ash.

The British Institute of Organ Studies discovered that the church boasts a particularly fine organ built by Conacher of Huddersfield in 1878.

Five months of disruption have converted a cold, dark and draughty church into a bright, warm welcoming space, without any loss of character. There is also a hearing loop and a full audio/video system allowing the showing of films.

In 2015/6 the refurbishment was completed by stripping the roof completely and re-slating it with Welsh slates. With the slates off the opportunity was taken to treat the woodwork and insert thick insulation. The bell wheel was removed and completely replaced with a new one of English oak.

2016 also saw a complete upgrade of all electrical installations within the church and the lighting was converted to dimmerable LED low-energy lighting.

The vast majority of the above works could not have have been done without the generous grants awarded to the church, The church is indebted to all of the following organizations listed in no particular order:

Fenland District Council and Fenland Adventurers; The Rhyde Croft Organization; the Parson Drove and Wisbech St Mary Parish Councils; Central Government funding administered by National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF); and a myriad of donations and fund raising events. Special mention has to go to the local craftsmen from Peggs Construction; P A Green Roofing and Whittlesey Pine all of whom went the extra mile to work their particular skills in the upgrade of church; ensuring that it is ready and able to serve the community for the next 145 years!

Emmanuel Church is a Fenland Victorian building, Grade II listed in 1983, often filled to capacity for funerals, weddings and baptisms and it is important that we continue to take full advantage of facilities for a variety of uses by the community, whilst keeping the character and importance of a very precious part of the Parson Drove heritage for use by future generations.