500-year-old Tudor church ‘trashed’ in illegal New Year’s Eve rave

6 January 2021, 11:54 | Updated: 7 January 2021, 10:18

Three people have been arrested for damaging the Tudor church
Three people have been arrested for damaging the Tudor church. Picture: Essex Police

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A much-loved Tudor church was used for an illegal rave on New Year’s Eve.

A 500-year-old church in Essex was “trashed” during an illegal New Year’s Eve party.

Hundreds attended the rave at All Saints Church in East Horndon, which had been kitted out with DJ decks, lighting, Portaloos, and a bar.

Crowds dispersed before midnight and three people were arrested by Essex Police on suspicion of public order and drugs offences.

Police say people threw objects at them when they threatened to shut the party down.

Volunteer group Friends of All Saints set up a fundraiser after the rave, aiming to raise £2,000 for a “deep clean” after the hundreds of revellers caused damage to the Grade II listed church (see below).

Members of the public have already pledged £20,000 on the JustGiving page. The group said it was “overwhelmed with the incredible support”.

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Rave organisers set up DJ decks in the church
Rave organisers set up DJ decks in the church. Picture: Essex Police

“The locks will need to be replaced as it seems an illegal copy was taken of the keys, a window was broken and used for an air extraction system, the walls have been damaged when blacking out the windows, and the electrics have been tampered with to power their equipment,” the volunteers said.

“We are only a small group of volunteers who look after this beloved building and rely on donations to pay for the repairs that are required to the window, the door lock, the electrics and a massive deep clean operation.”

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The building, which is owned and conserved by the Churches Conservation Trust, has not been used for religious services since 1970, but regularly hosts open days, plays and other community events.

Essex church trashed in New Year's Eve rave
Essex church trashed in New Year's Eve rave. Picture: Essex Police

Father Paul Hamilton, vicar at the church, told Classic FM’s sister station, LBC: “None of us are angels and we have all pushed the boundaries a little bit in our time, but this really was very unsafe and it was a very disrespectful way to use a church that is historically of phenomenal interest.

“There are so many historic figures buried there, we have got a former speaker of the House of Commons buried there, and drugs and paraphernalia were all over their graves,” he added.

Essex moved to Tier 4 of the UK’s COVID-19 restrictions on 23 December, meaning large gatherings were banned. It is now in full lockdown, along with the rest of the country.