History Files


Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of East London

by Peter Kessler, 7 March 2010



Redbridge Part 6: Churches of South Woodford & Woodford Green

St Mary's Woodford

The Parish Church of St Mary's Woodford is on the western side of the High Street, South Woodford, just 180 metres (yards) or so north of the North Circular road. The church dates at least to 1177, when it was among the possessions of the canons of Waltham Holy Cross, and possibly before the Norman Conquest. It was built some distance from the main settlement, and by the eighteenth century it and the hamlet which had grown up around it were known as Church End.

St Mary's Woodford

The church has been dedicated to St Mary since at least the fourteenth century, though it has sometimes been known as St Margaret's. Nothing survives of the medieval building. Former rector, Blessed John Larke, was martyred at Tyburn in 1544 for defying Henry VIII. By 1622 the village had grown enough to warrant enlargement work. More work was carried out in 1816 and 1891. In 1969 parts of the church were destroyed by arson and were rebuilt with a modern touch.

Woodford Methodist Church

Woodford Methodist Church is a little further north, on Derby Road. The first Wesleyan society here seems to have been founded in the 1830s. In or soon after 1837 they took over the old Congregational chapel in Mill Lane, Woodford Green. One of their superintendents founded Woodford Green United Free Church, but the Mill Lane chapel ended after 1852. Some of the Woodford Green people later seceded to form this present church on Derby Road in 1876-1877.

Salway Evangelical Church

Salway Evangelical Church sits on an open plot of land on the corner of Forest Approach & Woodford Green, just south of the green itself. The church was opened in 1933 by members of the Christian Brethren from Latchett Evangelical Church in South Woodford. In 1966 it had an active membership of nearly two hundred, including two missionaries in India and one in Argentina. The present building would seem to be the original 1930s one, and is still open for worship.

Woodford Green Congregational Church

Woodford Green Congregational Church stood on Broomhill Road, overlooking Woodford Green, approximately on the site of the current Sir James Hawkey Hall. The church was founded about 1790, and was registered in 1795 as Providence Chapel, for Independents. In 1815 a church was formed, apparently in nearby Horn Lane, and a meeting was held at that chapel until 1837, when a second, larger building was erected on the same site. Additions were made in 1861.

Woodford Green Congregational Church

The building was a rectangular stucco-faced building in the neo-Classical style with a Corinthian portico of three bays. It was demolished in 1873 and a third church (pictured) designed by Rowland Plumbe, was built on the green and opened in 1874. It was stone, in the Early English style with a tall spire, but despite prospering, the church was wrecked by a flying bomb in 1944. Instead of rebuilding, the congregation joined Woodford Green United Free Church in 1947.

Two photos and some text on this page contributed by Keith Wreyford.

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