The church is dedicated to St Barnabas: ‘Son of Encouragement’.
Barnabas became a Christian in the earliest period of the Church. He was the equal of Paul in early missionary work, and was instrumental in helping Paul to be accepted by the Church after his conversion.
Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew, but had relatives in Jerusalem. John Mark, of Mark's Gospel, was his cousin. His commitment became clear when he sold his own property for the common Christian cause, recorded in the Bible in Acts chapter 4. He was given the name Barnabas which means ‘son of encouragement’ by the apostles. In Acts 11, Luke calls him ‘a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.’ Barnabas was a man of great faith and courage, and, like Paul, supported himself by working for a living, not drawing on the resources of the Churches.
The Church of St Barnabas Hadleigh began as daughter church of the ancient Parish Church of St James the Less, Hadleigh. A ‘Mission Church’, designed to be eventually the church hall, was dedicated on 1st October 1935.
The building was damaged during the second World War, but was restored and re-opened on 19th January 1946. Subsequently, a permanent church was built; it was commissioned on 29th January 1958. The chancel and tower were completed in1961 and dedicated by the Bishop of Chelmsford on 12th September.
From outside, the church has an attractive and striking appearance. The bell tower is visible for miles around. The white statuette of St Barnabas above the porch shows him holding a rake, representing the lands he gave for the work of the church.
Inside, the modern stained glass window to the South of the nave (depicted in the page header and detail above) shows St Barnabas against the background of his native Cyprus, holding in his hands a church and a book of the Gospel that he proclaimed in founding the church there. The towns of Paphos and Salamis named are where notable events in his ministry took place. The ship represents the missionary journeys that Barnabas undertook with St Paul. The Lion of St Mark and the crossed swords on the shield (the arms of St Paul) are reminders of his partners in the church in Cyprus. The window is the work of Francis Skeat.
The stained glass window on the North wall opposite (above), also the work of Francis Skeat and which is dedicated to the Morthers' Union, represents in the centre the Virgin and Child, an older child than in conventional pictures. On either side are the Virgin and the Angel at the Annunciation. The Latin inscription is the response of the Virgin Mary: ‘Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.’
Other side windows are of clear glass, whilst in the high pointed roof spaces to the East are gold and bronze and in the West red and blue. The whole atmosphere is of light and space, warm and welcoming.
The pews in the nave are solid oak and were originally in the parish church at Coggeshall. The choir stalls, pulpit, lectern, altar and font were designed by the architects: Messrs Humphrey and Hurst.