History Files


Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of East London

by Peter Kessler, 18 October 2009



Waltham Forest Part 11: Churches of Walthamstow

St Barnabas, Walthamstow

The Church of St Barnabas is on St Barnabas Road, north of Boundary Road. Worship here began in 1900, when an iron mission church was erected within the parish of St Saviour (see below). A separate parish was formed in 1901, the advowson of the vicarage being vested in the bishop. In 1903 a permanent church was built at the expense of Richard Foster, who also gave the sites for the church, church hall, and vicarage house.

St Barnabas, Walthamstow

The church is an imposing edifice of red brick with stone dressings, designed by W D Caröe, and has a small spired turret at the north-west corner and late-Gothic windows. In 1961 the parish of St Barnabas was united with that of St James the Greater, located at the north end of Markhouse Road, with St Barnabas remaining the parish church while St James was closed and later demolished. Afterwards, a chapel of St James was formed in the south aisle of St Barnabas.

Walthamstow Seventh Day Adventist Church

Walthamstow Seventh Day Adventist Church is on the corner of Boundary Road and Devonshire Road. Worship first began on the site when it was purchased by the Walthamstow and Leyton Synagogue in 1902, but the church closed between 1914 and 1922 when the synagogue moved further down the street to buy the larger site of the old Baptist church. The Seventh Day Adventists took over the site in 1922 and the present red-brick church was built in 1928.

Boundary Road Baptist Church

Boundary Road Baptist Church on Boundary Road was founded after a permanent Baptist church was built on Orford Road. Some members of the original Boundary Road iron church found this to be too distant. They seceded and opened a small iron hut on this site, but this closed in 1914 and was later taken over by the Walthamstow and Leyton Synagogue. The brown-brick Samuel Goldman Memorial hall adjoining the church (on the far left here) was built in 1956.

Boundary Road Evangelical Church

Boundary Road Evangelical Church is a little way further west from the former Baptist church. Information on it is extremely patchy, but it seems possible that when the large Baptist church building was sold to the Walthamstow and Leyton Synagogue between 1914 and 1922, the Baptists moved to this smaller unadorned brown-brick building which would have been more economical to maintain. It remains in use by them to this day.

St Saviour's Parish Church

St Saviour's Parish Church is on Markhouse Road, which forms the western boundary line of central Walthamstow. The church was founded on 11 June 1873 with a service conducted by the bishop of Rochester, who also consecrated the building a year later. The money for the land and for the building of the church was donated by John Knowles and Richard Foster, partners in an old established trading company which became known as Knowles and Foster in 1852.

St Saviour's Parish Church

Construction was carried out by Messrs Henshaw, from designs by Mr F T Dolman. The church was faced with Kentish rag, with Tisbury stone dressings. The bell tower on the north-west corner is surmounted by a tall spire, and contains a peal of bells from the foundry of John Warner & Sons of London. In 1945 the church suffered extensive fire damage which destroyed the nave roof, organ, choir stalls and most of the sacristy. Rebuilding was completed in 1950.

Lighthouse Methodist Church

Lighthouse Methodist Church is on Markhouse Road. It originated in 1887, when members of Pembury Grove in the Hackney circuit opened a Walthamstow mission in Myrtle Road. A church was formed in 1888 and consisted of eleven members. In 1889 Captain King of the Bullard King line of steamers, who was already associated with Free Methodist churches in West Ham, helped to provide the present site and donated an iron hall.

Lighthouse Methodist Church

The permanent church was opened in 1893. Its unusual design, with a lighthouse angle turret and revolving beam, was perhaps influenced by Captain King's seafaring connections. This was the best-attended nonconformist church in Walthamstow in 1903, with total Sunday congregations of 1,523, although by 1904 there were 'only' 361 members, drawn from the local working class residents. The church became noted for its missionary and social activities.

South Grove Free Presbyterian Church

South Grove Free Presbyterian Church. opposite Markhouse Avenue. begun in 1881 as a mission for Trinity Church (now Trinity United Reformed). In 1925 the South Grove mission was handed over to Brethren from Folkestone Road, who had an unusually strong following in Walthamstow. They purchased the building in 1933. At some point between then and now the old building was demolished to make way for this multi-function version, probably in the 1980s.

In Depth
In Depth


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