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Gallery: Churches of East London
by Peter Kessler, 3 May 2009. Updated 15 February
St John the Baptist Church sits at the
corner of Church Street and High Road Leytonstone. During the Roman
period, there was a military encampment at Leytonstone that was later
known as the 'High Stone', and a Saxon settlement was founded nearby,
called Leatun, or Latun, so this became Leyton-att-stone. However, the
settlement remained part of the parish of St Mary, Leyton until the
growing population became vociferous about having to travel so far
Leytonstone gained its own chapel on 26 April
1749, with difficulty, due to intense opposition by the vicar of
Leyton. The present building replaced the chapel, and this was
dedicated on 31 October 1833, a year after construction started.
It was designed by Edward Blore in the Early English style, with
yellow brick and stone dressings. The four-storey tower contained
a peal of six bells, with two more being added in 1936 in memory
of William Pye (1870-1935).
Forest Baptist Church is at 881 High Road
Leytonstone, a little way north-east of St John the Baptist Church,
and close to the exit from the Green Man Roundabout. The building is
also known as the Welsh Church Hall, thanks to its dual role as the
Presbyterian Church of Wales, for Calvinistic Methodists.
Welsh Presbyterianism grew out of the country's Methodist revival in
the eighteenth century, and ceded from the Church of England in 1811.
The building was constructed in 1958 by Welsh
Presbyterians who moved from the Moreia Church in Church Hill,
Walthamstow (which was taken over by the Church of the Nazarene).
An outline sketch of the new church shows it with the trees in
front as infant saplings. The Reformed Baptists may have joined
after 1979, when Fillebrook Baptist Church merged with Leytonstone
United Reformed Church. The premises are also used for dance classes
and as a playhouse.
The Pentecostal City Mission Church is in
Upper Leytonstone, on the Wallwood Estate. It was built as
Leytonstone Primitive Methodist Church in 1902 for new
residents of the estate who met in 1901 on Colworth Road. Designed
by C Hallam, it is a white brick two-storey Italian baroque, with
terracotta dressings mostly replaced by concrete when the
west wall (left) was rebuilt after war damage. The turret over the
roof became unsafe, and was removed in 1930.
St Andrew's Church on the corner of Hainault
Road and Colworth Road is the parish church for Upper Leytonstone, or
Forest Glade, Leytonstone. It originated in 1882 in an iron building
in Colworth Road, a chapel of ease for St John the Baptist
Church on a site donated by Henry Cotton. The new Forest Glade parish
was formed in 1887. In the same year the first part of the permanent
church was opened, comprising the chancel and part of the aisled nave.
It was built of Kentish rag with freestone dressings
in the Early English style, to the design of Sir Arthur Blomfield (very
much like the churches of Canterbury). The rest of the nave and the
pinnacled west front were added in 1893. St Andrew's serves the Wallwood
Estate, which in 1898 was developing rapidly. In 1903 it was the best-attended
church of all denominations in the urban district, with total Sunday
congregations of over 1,500. A choir vestry was added in 1913.
Elim Pentecostal Church, on the corner of Hainult
Road and Fairlop Road, is part of a Welsh-Irish evangelical movement founded
in 1915 ('Elim' means 'place of refreshing'). The building was originally the
Anglican St Catherine's Church. In 1885 an iron mission church was
opened in Francis Road by St Mary's in Leyton, to serve the Phillebrook area.
The mission was expanded with the consecration of St Catherine's in 1893,
designed by R Creed in the Perpendicular style.
St Catherine's gained its own parish in 1894. A church
hall was added behind the main building in 1895. George Hibbert of Hibbert
House gave over £12,000 towards the building and endowing of the church and
hall, and in 1907 a reredos was erected to his memory. The Phillibrook
mission on Francis Road remained in St Catherine's parish until 1904, when
it was separated as Christ Church. St Catherine's was deconsecrated between
1973-2005 and subsequently sold.
The Leytonstone and Wanstead Synagogue,
with its name carried on the small stained glass window above the main
door, is on Drayton Road where it meets Fillebrook Road. It was founded
in 1929, with services held privately in Preston Road. A converted house
in Drayton Road was opened as a synagogue in 1934, with a membership of
ten families. It was seriously damaged by bombing in 1941, but restored.
By 1954, membership was up to about 170 families.