The Grays Parish Church Council is intending to renovate and restore the former south chapel which currently contains the redundant pipe organ and rename it ‘The Palmer Chapel’.
Detailed plans are available for inspection on the display boards at the west end of the church.
The total cost is expected to be in the region of £60,000 and it is hoped that the work will take place during 2013.

For more information please contact the Rector The Revd Darren Barlow on 01375 377379 or email

Any donations will be gratefully received.
Cheques made payable to ‘Grays Thurrock Team Ministry’ with the words ‘Palmer Chapel’ on the rear of the cheque.
Please send to The Palmer Chapel,
c/o The Rectory,
10 High View Avenue,
RM17 6RU.

Historical background to the Chapel

The marriage settlement of William Palmer, made when he married Anne Smyth in 1657, lists all his property and rights, he includes “all of that chapel situate on the south side of the east end of the parish church of Grays Thurrock”.


This drawing of Grays Parish Church was made in 1807. Before the major extension and reconstruction in the 1860s, the Church was much smaller than it is today. The Chancel was half the length it is now. The Nave included what is now the choir and ended just past the old south door. The people also sat in the ground floor of the Tower and in the south Chapel which was sometimes called the south aisle.

In this drawing the Chapel is the building to the left with the round arched window. The shape of this window and other features still visible in the present building such as the old north and south doorways has led to the conclusion that the Church was built in the early Norman period. The Chapel could therefore be over 800 years old and was used as a chapel up until 1935 when the old pipe organ was moved there from the base of the tower.
In 1154 William de Ferrers, the Lord of the Manor at the time, gave the Church to the Knights Hospitallers of St John, as his charter says, “for the safety of my soul and those of my wife and heirs and predecessors”. This suggests that the Chapel was provided as a Chantry Chapel where prayers would be said for the de Ferrers family.
During the Medieval Period the responsibility for the Chapel became separated from the main rights and responsibilities for the Church
For instance, the church records tell us in 1810 “Mrs. Theobald (then Lady of the Manor) repairs the south aisle (i.e. the Chapel) Zachary Button, who holds the presentation, repairs the Chancel, and the Parish repairs the large aisle (i.e. the Nave) steeple and vestry.
The Lord of the Manor from 1654 until his death in 1710 was William Palmer. In 1706 he drew up a Trust Deed founding the Palmer’s Charity which built the first and successive Palmer’s Schools and supports the Palmer’s College of today.
William Palmer, as Lord of the Manor listed ownership of the Chapel in the marriage settlement when he married his first wife Anne in 1657. In his will, made 10 days before he died in May 1710, he expressed the wish to be buried in “his Chancel at Grays”. This reference to Chancel must be an error by those drafting the will. Those who held the rights and responsibilities for the Church claimed the right of burial in the Chancel. Members of the Button family, who owned the rights from 1777 to 1829, are buried there.
Two historians visited the Church soon after William Palmer’s death. Holman, who himself died in 1720, wrote “William Palmer Esq. was buried in the south aisle of the Church, May 1710”. Salmon in History of Essex (1740) writes “in the south transept of the Church, William Palmer was buried.
H.W. King visited the Church in August 1871 (after the major reconstruction and additions in the 1860s) and could not find the inscription to William Palmer. But King clearly states that in his opinion “the south transept was undoubtedly a chapel or chantry with an altar and in the wall is a piscina. This is sufficient to account for an aumbry in this chapel and especially if a chantry priest was attached to it.” This piscina (bowl for water) and aumbry (locker) are still there built into the walls.
We can be as certain as we can be without seeing the grave-stone, that William Palmer is buried in the proposed Palmer Chapel.

The Parish Church of
St. Peter & St. Paul
Grays Town Centre

Part of the Grays Thurrock Team Ministry

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