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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of East London

by Peter Kessler, 6 June 2010

 

 

Barking & Dagenham Part 4: Churches of Becontree

The Parish Church of St Elisabeth's Becontree

The Parish Church of St Elisabeth's Becontree occupies the south-west corner of Wood Lane and Hewett Road. In 1931 the temporary church of St Christopher was put up on Raydons Road (close to Bethel London Riverside Church, see below). The following year the permanent church of St Elisabeth, Wood Lane, was built to cater for this southern-central section of the Becontree Estate, the world's largest council-owned housing estate.

The Parish Church of St Elisabeth's Becontree

Funds for the construction of the church were subscribed by the Chelmsford Diocese Mothers' Union. The church is a red-brick building with stone mullioned windows, and consists of an aisled nave, chancel, organ chamber, Lady chapel, and north-west bellcote (visible in the centre of the previous photo). St Christopher's continued as a mission church until it was closed in 1962. The bishop of Chelmsford is patron of the vicarage of St Elisabeth.

Wood Lane Baptist Church

Wood Lane Baptist Church (Halley Memorial Hall) is on the southern side of Wood Lane, close to the Keppel Road junction. The Baptists, mainly through the initiative of their Essex Extension Committee, built four churches in Becontree: Dagenham Baptist Church (1928), Becontree Avenue (1929), Oxlow Lane (1939), and Wood Lane itself in 1933. The Wood Lane church was donated by Mrs Halley in memory of her husband and therefore bears his name.

Catholic Church of the Holy Family, Oxlow Lane

The Catholic Church of the Holy Family, Oxlow Lane lies on the northern side of Oxlow Lane, opposite Halbutt Street in Becontree. A mission for the central area of the Becontree Estate was established on the site in 1928. The present church was opened in 1934, and now sits alongside a school. The building is constructed in red brick, orientated north-east to south-west, with nave and chancel and a bell turret at the north-east end (visible on the right here).

Dagenham Evangelical Congregational Church

Dagenham Evangelical Congregational Church occupies Osborne Hall, at the centre of Osborne Square, which is a cul-de-sac that leads off the circular road of the same name. The church was founded in 1930 by the London Missionary Society and the London Congregational Union, and the present building was erected in 1931. It sits behind plain steel fencing and is affiliated with the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches.

St George's Church Dagenham

St George's Church Dagenham occupies a long plot along the eastern side of Rogers Road in Becontree, with the church building sitting opposite Petit's Road. The location is an open and very pleasant one, on a quiet suburban side street, with budding trees (in April) on the grounds partially obscuring the front of the church. The church was opened in 1929 in a temporary building. The present building replaced it in 1935, gaining its own parish at the same time.

St George's Church Dagenham

The building was constructed by architect Sir William Milner, whose firm, Milner & Craze, was also responsible for the building of St Thomas, Oakwood, in 1939, and St Alban, Becontree, in 1934. It was built in brown brick and consists of a nave with passage aisles and a chancel flanked by chapels. The advowson of the vicarage is held by the bishop of Chelmsford, and a hall lies alongside the church (to the right of this photo), almost as large as the church itself.

Bethel London Riverside Church

Bethel London Riverside Church is on the southern side of Parsloes Avenue, opposite Harris Road. The church has had an active involvement in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham since its commencement in 1927. By 2010 the building was too small for a burgeoning membership, so meetings began to be held at the 800-seater Castle Green Community Centre which had a state of the art auditorium. Sunday night events continued to be held at Parsloes Avenue.

Porters Avenue Methodist Church

Porters Avenue Methodist Church used to lay on the northern side of Porters Avenue, opposite Gale Street (to the lower left of the mini-roundabout). Manor Road Primitive Methodist Church existed in Barking in 1861 (Manor Road later formed the north end of Linton Road). This appears to have closed between 1929 and 1933. Porters Avenue church was possibly founded by the same group, and opened in 1936. It closed in or after 1965, and was demolished about 2008.

Unknown Church

There is an Unknown Church on the southern side of Lillechurch Road, opposite Easebourne Road, in the south-western area of the Becontree Estate. No data seems to be available for it and the church itself seems to have been closed for several years. That it is a church is in no doubt, as the small painted sign at the centre of the frontage, just below the roof, says so. But the rest of the sign cannot be read. The building almost certainly dates to about 1930.

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