Chigwell School was founded in 1629 by Archbishop Harsnett, the Archbishop of York, who had previously been vicar of Chigwell. The School is therefore an Anglican foundation. The current Chapel was dedicated in 1924 and was built as a memorial to those Old Chigwellians killed in the First World War.
Today the Chapel acts as a focus of thought and inspiration for a diverse community representing all the major faiths of the world and those who have no faith. The Chapel provides a quiet place of refuge for thought, challenge, peace and tranquillity; where individuals can reflect and make sense of the world. Although worship is framed by the singing of Christian hymns, very often talks draw on the breadth of spirituality encompassed by the world religions. During the year pupils will share their own ideas and beliefs in what is a safe and supported environment. Pupils are encouraged to grow in their own faith traditions whilst appreciating and respecting the beliefs of others. Thus Chapel has at its heart the philosophy that all people are valuable and precious. This was noted in a recent inspection which stated that: 'There is no prejudice or discrimination at Chigwell School'.
All pupils attend Chapel once a week in the Junior School and twice a week in the Senior School. On top of this there are special services to mark the beginning and end of each term. These are held in St. Mary’s Parish Church.
There is encouragement for pupils to explore their own faith traditions further, and, as a result of this there is a newly formed Jewish Society, a flourishing Islamic Society and a Christian Union. VIth Form pupils normally take a leading role in these societies. There are termly celebrations of an Ecumenical Family Eucharist and a Roman Catholic Mass; these are held on Sunday evenings. These occasions create a wonderful atmosphere and are great occasions to pray for the school and worship with friends and family.
Chapel is at the heart of a vibrant and diverse community and it is testimony to its importance that those who leave often say how much they miss the quiet and thoughtfulness that the services offer. Many Old Chigwellians return to the Chapel for weddings and the baptism of their children.