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Gallery: Churches of East London
by Peter Kessler, 27 February 2011
Havering Part 4: Churches of North Ockendon & Upminster
St Mary Magdalene, Parish Church of North
Ockendon, is on the western side of Church Lane, leading south
from Ockendon Road, within sight of the M25 to the west. A church,
attached to Westminster Abbey's manor of (North) Ockendon, existed
by 1075, almost certainly Saxon in origin. After 1526 the advowson
rested solely with the lords of North Ockendon manor until the twentieth
century. The church was built with ragstone and flint walls dressed
with Reigate stone.
The nave and chancel were built in the later twelfth
century. A north aisle was added about fifty years later. The north chapel,
which has an arcade of two bays to the chancel, was added about 1300. The
chancel may have been remodelled around this time. The north aisle was given
a new doorway and windows in the later fourteenth century. The tower is from
the fifteenth century. In 1840 the church was restored, but a more complete
restoration was carried out in 1858.
The Parish Church of All Saints Cranham lies in
secluded grounds next to Cranham Hall, The Chase, leading south from St Mary's
Lane, to the east of Upminster railway station. The earliest reference to
the church occurs in 1254. The advowson of the rectory passed with the lordship
of the manor of Cranham Hall until the eighteenth century. Since Cranham was a
thinly populated parish, the rectors before the Civil War were often non-resident
or pluralist or both.
The first church on this site was apparently built in the
thirteenth century. It comprised a nave, chancel, south porch, and short
weatherboarded west tower. In 1702-1703 the north side of the church was
'ripped up and new piled', but in 1871 the building was said to be in a
miserable state of dirt and dilapidation. The decision was taken to replace
it with the present Early English style church, which was built in 1873-1875
on the same site, designed by Richard Armstrong.
Upminster Baptist Church sits on the northern side
of Springfield Gardens as the road dips south-west and then heads a short way
west to Corbets Tey. It is colloquially known as 'the Church on the corner'.
A general Baptist church drawing its worshippers from Pilgrim's Hatch,
Hornchurch, Aveley, and Upminster originated before 1700. This church started
in 1934, with support from North Street Baptist Church, Hornchurch. The church
building was opened in 1959.
Upminster Old Chapel lies on the southern side of
St Mary's Lane. It was built in 1800 and was known as the Church of the
Protestant Dissenters. Attendance grew and a new building was needed,
so the chapel was sold to the Plymouth Brethren in 1911. It has been closed
since 1986. Behind it lies the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary Convent
Chapel within the convent and girls school itself. The Sisters bought
Hill Place, St Mary's Lane, in 1927 and it continues today.
St Joseph's Catholic Church stands on the
north-eastern corner of Champion Road and St Mary's Lane. A small oratory
opened on the Hill Place Estate on the same lane about 1881. Services
continued until the property was sold in 1888. In 1923 a church was opened
on the corner of St Mary's Lane and Sunnyside Gardens (now a petrol station).
It closed in 1932 when the present site was gained and a temporary church
opened. The present church was built in 1939.
The Parish Church of St Laurence stands inside
the large corner between St Mary's Lane and Corbets Tey in Upminster. The
name 'Upminster' suggests that an ancient mother church, serving an area
wider than the later parish, existed here long before the Conquest. Sadly,
no trace remains of it today. The present church was built about 1200. Of
that, only the stone tower survives, capped by a shingled and leaded spire
with partly thirteenth century framing and four bells.
The religious upheavals of the mid-sixteenth century
apparently had little effect on Upminster. In 1573 the church had still
not been stripped of all 'popish' features. With the exception of the
tower the church was almost wholly rebuilt in 1861-1862, but the form of
the earlier building was largely retained. The arcade separating nave and
north aisle was one of the few elements retained in the rebuilding, dating
from about 1300 with surviving elements of its wooden screen.
St Lawrence Road Gospel Hall (Open Brethren)
sits on the southern side of St Lawrence Road, midway along. These
Brethren seem to have first met about 1907. Previously worshipping in
a cottage near Hunts Farm, they built the hall as a mission, and it
seems likely that these were the Brethren who took over the former
Congregational Church. In 1971 they were still worshipping there, but
not in 2010. In 1952 they also registered St Lawrence Road as a full