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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of East London

by Peter Kessler, 3 May 2009. Updated 15 February 2012

Waltham Forest Part 1: Churches of Leytonstone

St John the Baptist Church, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, East London

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 to worship.

St John the Baptist Parish Church, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, East London

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, High Road. Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, East London

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.

Forest Baptist Church in East London, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, East London

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.

Pentecostal City Mission Church, Upper Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, East London

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 in Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, East London

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.

St Andrew's Church, Upper Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, East London

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 in Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, East London

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.

Elim Pentencostal Church, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, East London

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.

Leytonstone Baptist Hall, Waltham Forest, East London

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.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler.



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