History Files


Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of East London

by Peter Kessler, 18 October 2009



Waltham Forest Part 9: Churches of Walthamstow

St Stephen's Church

St Stephen's Church in the parish of Walthamstow began in 1874 when a temporary church was built in Copeland Road on the current site, which was donated by Alfred Janson and Henry Ford Barclay to serve that part of St Mary's parish. St Stephen gained its own parish in 1881, formed partly from St Mary's, Walthamstow, and partly from St Mary's, Leyton. A permanent church building, designed by W G Habershon, was consecrated next to the temporary one in 1878.

St Stephen's Church

St Stephen's was responsible for three missions, one in Western Road in 1891, the Forest mission (now St Peter's), and West Street in 1894 (demolished 1961). The church of St Stephen was demolished in 1969 because it was found to be structurally weak. The church hall, built in Copeland Road in 1880, was altered for use as the church building. Around the turn of the Millennium, the old building was replaced entirely by a new multi-purpose construction.

Kingsway International Christian Centre

Kingsway International Christian Centre, on Hoe Street, began life in 1992, at a hall in Holloway Boys School in North London. The initial congregation was 200, while fifteen years later it numbered 12,000. Located in Hackney for nine years, they were forced to vacate for the London 2012 Olympics development, and found a new home on Hoe Street late in 2007. The church later applied for planning permission to begin a new site in Rainham in Essex.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is located at 378 Hoe Street in Walthamstow. Opened at some point after 1990 by the London Temple in Surrey, which is the mother church in Britain, the church serves wards (or congregations) from Lea Valley and Whitechapel. All main Latter-Day Saints churches are known as temples, following the tradition established by King Solomon in the eleventh century BC, while the smaller buildings such as this one are known as chapels.

Central Baptist Church, Walthamstow

Central Baptist Church is at the eastern end of Orford Road, leading off Hoe Street. Originally known as Central Church, Orford Road, it began life in 1874, when services were held for the Markhouse common district which stretched from the River Lea. An iron hall was erected on the corner of nearby Boundary Road and Boston Road (now a cul-de-sac) in 1875 and a permanent church was built in 1880, although not the one that stands here today.

Central Baptist Church, Walthamstow

In 1914 the present church building was erected on Orford Road as a large red-brick Gothic building with a south-west tower. Membership fell from 318 in 1915 to 296 in 1916 when some of the original Boundary Road members, finding their new church to be too distant, seceded and opened a small iron hut in Boundary Road (and later a full church). In 1939, the Orford Road church had 349 members, and in 1967, 269. By 2009, this had shrunk to about seventy.

West Avenue Congregational Hall

West Avenue Congregational Hall began in 1861 as Trinity Congregational Church, when some Marsh Street members seceded. After holding private services, they soon built a small wooden hall called the Ark. This was replaced by the current brick building in 1864. A full church was opened next door in 1870, and the old building became a lecture hall. It was let for storage in 1935, sold in 1952 and in 1970 was a pet-food premises. It is now a Village Drop-In centre.

Trinity United Reformed Church

Trinity United Reformed Church is located on the corner of West Avenue and Orford Road, a little way east of the Baptist church. The building was constructed next to the original small church in 1870, which can be seen behind it, in the far right of this photo. Under J W Ellis (1878-1890) the church grew, and a permanent mission was started in an iron hall on Arkley Road where it meets Markhouse Road (the area has since been totally redeveloped, leaving no trace of the hall).

Trinity United Reformed Church

Another mission was started at South Grove in 1881, but this was handed over in 1925 to become South Grove Presbyterian Church. The main church building was enlarged in 1900, and by 1939 membership was 109. In 1944-1945 the church was severely damaged by bombing, and was restored in 1959. In 1965 it was joined by the Marsh Street congregation. The combined membership in 1968 was 93, and in 1969-1970 the church building was very much altered.

Walthamstow National Spiritualist Centre

Walthamstow National Spiritualist Centre is on Vestry Road, close to St Mary's. Originally St Mary's National School, the building was erected in 1819 on part of the Workhouse Acre. It was designed to accommodate a Master and Mistress along with two hundred pupils. The National Spiritualist church originated in 1920, when services were started in a hall next to the Post Office sorting office. In 1924 the congregation took over the present premises, opposite the museum.

In Depth
In Depth


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