Over £20,000 raised to pay for repairs to church used for illegal New Year’s Eve party

We were saddened by the news of an illegal rave which took place on New Years Eve at our church of All Saints', East Horndon in Essex. All Saints’ is a Grade II* listed building, which stands in an isolated area near to the town of Brentwood. The brick-built church dates back to the fifteenth century and houses tombs of the Tyrell family of nearby Heron Hall.

The event was broken up by the police, who arrested three people on suspicion of public-order offences. The organisers of the rave gained access to the building, smashing a window in the process and wired their sound system into the church’s fuse box. The event seems to have been organised, with porta-loos installed in the churchyard for the hundreds of revellers.

We were heartened by the actions of the volunteer group, The Friends of All Saints’, who quickly appealed online for £2000 to fund the clean-up on JustGiving website. The money raised now stands at over £21,000, which will be used to clean up and repair the church.

One of the volunteers, Astrid Gillespie, told The Church Times that they were “completely overwhelmed” by people’s “support and generosity — faith in humanity restored”. She continued: “It’s such a beautiful church; to find out it’s been damaged was devastating.”

The church came into the care the Churches Conservation Trust in 1970 and before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was regularly used for public events.

The Area Dean of Brentwood, Canon Paul Hamilton, whose parish of Ingrave includes All Saints’, told LBC: “The place stinks of drugs. 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.”

We are extremely grateful for the support and money raised by local volunteers, and to Essex police for their timely intervention and we will be pursuing all possible avenues for recompense to put right the damage.