The History of Essex Hall
by Mortimer Rowe B.A., D.D.
Lindsey Press © 1959
"What mean ye by these stones?"
The past history of Essex Hall has hitherto been recorded only in fragments, scattered widely through the pages of annual reports, weekly periodicals and many other (and more interesting!) sources of information, covering not far short of two centuries. I have endeavoured to weld the disjointed fragments into a coherent and continuous narrative, complete so far as the limited compass of a short book allows; correcting some oft-repeated errors and clarifying a few obscurities, and also including material previously unrecorded in readily accessible form.
The history of a building such as ours is closely interwoven with the unfolding record of the religious movement which gives that history significance; but only the outstandingly important events which occurred within these walls in days gone by are noted in the course of this narrative. The book has been written at the request of the General Assembly, upon the occasion of the opening of our wholly new and modem Essex Hall; hence the disproportionate space which is occupied by the final chapter.
Throughout the task I have had very great help from Dr. Dorothy Tarrant, who has been assiduous in the quest for accurate information, willingly taking the main share in the collection of material, and thus leaving me free to devote myself chiefly to the work of the scribe. To her my first and foremost acknowledgments are due.
Others whom I must thank are Mr. Charles King of Bideford, for free permission to use the charming original sketch which forms the frontispiece; our architect, Mr. Kenneth Tayler, for contributing an important chapter which, needless to say, I could not myself have written; and the Editor of The Inquirer, the Rev. E. G. Lee, for the loan of four half-tone blocks illustrating the new building within and without.
MORTIMER ROWE Essex Hall, January 1959