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Gallery: Churches of East London
by Peter Kessler, 5 September 2010
Havering Part 3: Churches of Hornchurch &
Hornchurch Methodist Church is on the northern side
of the High Street. Wesleyans met in a house by 1829, perhaps at 'Hollies',
which became North Street Chapel about 1835. In 1854 part of the
building of Jonathan Diaper was registered for Wesleyan worship. That
also seems to have been short-lived. The present Wesleyan church originated
about 1929 with meetings in the Masonic Hall. A school-chapel opened in 1933
and the present church was built in 1958.
Hornchurch Baptist Church overlooks North Street,
although access is on the southern side of Leather Lane, part of a modern
shopping block. The church seems to have originated in 1859, when Hermon
Independent Chapel, High Street, was registered. In 1877 a church was
formed, but failing to get a Congregational preacher, a Baptist one was found
instead. In 1882 the North Street church was built, and was probably
demolished about 2000.
St Andrew Hornchurch & Cemetery occupies a
site on the southern side of Upminster Road, with the cemetery behind it.
This 'church of Havering' existed by 1163, when Henry II gave it to the
newly-founded Hornchurch Priory. When the priory was dissolved in
1391 its possessions in Hornchurch were bought by William of Wykeham, bishop
of Winchester. The present church was erected probably in the period
between 1220-1228, completely erasing the old church.
The church consisted of chancel, four-bay nave, and
north and south aisles. It was built of septaria and ragstone, with some
brick, and limestone dressings. During the fifteenth century the aisles
and chancel were rebuilt and the north and south chapels, clerestory,
north porch, and west tower were added. The south aisle and chapel were
rebuilt in 1802, and the church was restored in 1869 and 1900. The embattled
tower has a tall spire and a ring of eight bells.
St George's Church Hornchurch occupies a
relatively small site on the north-western corner of Kenilworth Gardens
and Connaught Road in the south-east of Hornchurch. Since 1849 six new
churches, all originally missions of St Andrew Hornchurch (see above)
have been built in Hornchurch. By 2010, two of them remained under St
Andrew as mission churches, with St George's being one of those. It is
built in red brick with a rendered brick bell tower at the north end.
The Catholic Parish Church of the English
Martyrs lies on the northern side of Alma Avenue, at the very
eastern end of the avenue and almost opposite Bevan Way in Upminster.
East Hornchurch's Catholic parish was formed in 1955 out of part of
that of St Mary Mother of God Catholic Church, Hornchurch Road,
which had been built in 1931 to serve north-west Hornchurch. This
simple red brick church is typical of the fifties and has a small
south bell turret, above the porch.
St Matthew's Church lies inside of the bend
on the eastern side of Chelmsford Drive. The church was constructed in
1956 as a mission of St Andrew Hornchurch (see above) to meet the needs
of the new population in Upminster, an area was expanded rapidly after
the arrival of the electrified District Line Underground in 1935. It
was one of six new churches built as missions from 1849 for St Andrew's.
It is of undecorated red brick with minimal decoration and a tiled roof.
Havering Christian Fellowship occupies a site
at 2 Craigdale Road, on the western side. Although halfway along the street,
the rest of the western side consists of open grass leading down to the
river and to a footpath which runs behind the building. This fellowship is
amongst several small undenominational missions which arose in Hornchurch
in the twentieth century. It dates to the 1920s, although it is unclear
whether this is the original building.
Hacton Central Mission was at 'Smokeholes',
on the western side of Park Farm Road, opposite Harwood Hall Lane.
The undenominational mission was founded in 1904 by Mrs James Strang of
Rainham Lodge, and for some years Wesleyan lay preachers helped there.
In 1911-1963 it served as Hacton Congregational Mission, before
services ceased, but the hall was in use in 1966 for undenominational
youth meetings. In 1974 it housed an afternoon Sunday School.
Upminster Cemetery Chapel is on the northern
side of Ockendon Road, close to Huntsmans Drive. The first burial took
place here in 1902, and the chapel seats forty. Today the cemetery is
attached to South Essex Crematorium, which lies on its western flank,
but still retains its own identity. The first service took place on 4
July 1957 in the post-war crematorium, which is also known as Corbets
Tey Crematorium, and which has two chapels which are interdenominational.