Many people walking down The Lane have been surprised to see a little mission hall tucked in among the houses in the oldest part of the island. They wonder at the name, "Old City Hall",
a somewhat grandiose name for such a small hall; however, the name is more
apt than it at first appears, because that corner of old Mersea was always
known as the Old City.
The hall dates back to 1930 when it was built by two maiden Christian ladies who lived in Seaview Avenue, the Misses Plummer.They had been holding a women's meeting once a week in Riverside House next door to West Mersea Yacht Club, and the interest in Bible reading and hymns, together with the unique personality of these two ladies, resulted in the venue becoming too small. The Misses Plummer decided to search for a site in the area to build a suitable hall.
A few years earlier, in The Lane, a public house called the Old Ship Inn had been demolished. This was bought, the site cleared, and the biggest hall possible was built. The Old City Hall came into being; the ladies went there to drink in the Word of God, and also, of course, cups of tea.
Having such a convenient place for worship and preaching, quite a distance from the other churches on the Island, the ladies decided to run a Sunday evening service, and they invited preachers from the Assembly Hall and other churches. By the late forties the younger and surviving Miss Plummer, being too old and frail to continue running the Old City Hall, handed it over to four local Christians with no conditions, except a request to maintain the services as far as possible. This the Trustees have done, and for many years there was a mid-week children's service as well as the Sunday evening, and the Women's Meeting. The evening service still continues, the few older people frequently augmented by ten or so children and teenagers. The Women's Meeting was discontinued a few years ago.
The history above is based on an article by the late Peter French in Mersea Island Society Mistral magazine in 1990.