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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of East London

by Peter Kessler, 26 June 2020

Newham Part 13: Churches of Stratford

Stratford Tabernacle, Stratford, East London

Stratford Tabernacle stood in the north side of Carpenters Road, just inside the junction with the High Street and flanking the post-war Jupp Road West - directly in front of the nearest tower block here. It probably started on Barnby Street about 1870, with meetings in rented premises. The tabernacle was built in 1877 to seat over 800. After 1900 numbers fell, and in 1917 the congregation joined Grove Methodists (below). Sold to the YMCA, the building was badly bombed.

High Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Stratford, East London

High Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was near 383 High Street, on its east side next to the modern magistrates court. This was West Ham's first permanent Wesleyan church (Stratford is an extension). John Wesley visited several times in 1783-1791 and the chapel existed by 1790. It was enlarged in 1811 but used as a school in 1828-1830 (and demolished in 1890) when the former Unitarian Enon Chapel was available (see links). Grove Methodists (below) succeeded this.

Bryant Street Conference Hall, Stratford, East London

Bryant Street Conference Hall occupied an entire block between Bryant Street and Widdin Street, facing out onto the junction with Aldworth Road from where this photo was taken. An American evangelist mission of 1884 saw this undenominational hall built in the same year. It was administered by a council of Anglicans and nonconformists. Numbers were falling by 1923 so the Methodist London Mission (West Ham) took over in 1934. It was destroyed by bombing.

Bryant Street Methodist Church, Stratford, East London

Bryant Street Methodist Church was built behind the bombed-out ruins of the old Conference Hall (see above) between 1962-1966 and is now known as Stratford Methodist Church. Until then, the Jubilee Hall (1897) and Memorial Hall (1912) were used to continue services and activities. The original footprint for the three halls (including the Conference Hall) was extensive, and even after a police station was built over the West Ham Lane half of it, it is still not a small site.

The Unitarian & Free Christian Church, Stratford, East London

The Unitarian & Free Christian Church stands at the north-east corner of the junction between West Ham Lane and Mark Street. This church does not appear to have been connected with the Enon Chapel of Chapel Street (see links). A Stratford Unitarian meeting existed in 1810, probably identical to the local Christian Association Meeting. The chapel was built a few metres north of the current site in 1869. Bombed out during the war, the present building replaced it.

Brickfields Christian Centre, Stratford, East London

Brickfields Christian Centre is on the east side of Welfare Road (formerly Union Road). One of the oldest nonconformist meetings here, it began in 1672 with Presbyterian worship on Salway Place, off The Grove. It became Brickfields Independent Chapel on the present site in 1776 with a burial ground. In 1816 a gallery was added to what became Brickfields Congregational Church. Restored again in 1896 and in 1952, it is now Brickfields United Reformed Church.

Church of St John Stratford, Stratford, East London

The Church of St John Stratford is very prominent as it occupies the centre of  The Broadway in Stratford, alongside the entrance to The Grove. In 1832 the vicar of All Saints West Ham (see links) saw the need for a new parish church for this growing district. Much of the money to build the new church was given by local people, and it was erected in 1834. It was designed by Edward Blore, one of the leading architects of his day - having finished off Buckingham Palace.

Church of St John Stratford, Stratford, East London

St John's was designed in the Early English style with a tall, ornate south-west spire. Interesting external architectural features include the lancets (like stone bridges). Originally there was a gallery at the back of the church, and plans show an organ on it. In 1884 the interior was fully changed, and it seems likely that this is when the gallery was removed. Restoration work in the mid-1990s revealed the bricked-up door leading from the tower to the former gallery.

Grove Methodist Church / Stratford Central Hall, Stratford, East London

Grove Methodist Church at the north-east corner of The Grove and Park Avenue was built in 1871. It replaced Chapel Street Methodist Chapel - sold to Primitive Methodists. Schoolrooms were added in 1873. Abbey Lane Mission began about 1876. In 1919 the declining Grove was renovated as Stratford Central Hall, but this was bombed out in 1940. Providing competition just thirty metres behind it was the previously undenominational Park Avenue Conference Hall (1934).

St Philip's Church, Stratford, East London

St Philip's Church on Tenby Road's south side (now Oxford Road) was an 1888 brick building to replace the 1887 iron building after a fire. Holy Trinity Mission Hall was on its east flank (at the far end here). A vast Stratford Congregational Church was inside the north-west corner of The Grove and Grove Crescent Road (now a Jewson centre). Built in 1866-1867 it was sold in 1948, but also ran Chapel Street Mission (1885-1927) and Crownfield Road Mission (1885-91).

Seven photos on this page by P L Kessler (from 2010-2011), and two kindly contributed by the London Borough of Newham.



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