A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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Between 1574 and 1597 the Hale family of Moons were repeatedly prosecuted for recusancy. A private chapel had been licensed at Moons in 1536 and this may well have been used for secret Roman Catholic worship in the later 16th century. (fn. 1) In 1598 William Humphrey was cited for harbouring a 'papistical woman' thought to be a common messenger between recusants, (fn. 2) but he was never indicted as a recusant himself. Indictments of a few Walthamstow recusants continued to 1629, (fn. 3) but in 1676 no papists were enumerated in the parish. (fn. 4) In 1766 one Roman Catholic family was reported. (fn. 5) This was the Bradshaw family, who may have given hospitality to the Jesuit mission conducted in Walthamstow from 1769 to 1772 by John Talbot, a priest who remained there until 1779. By 1780 there were 32 papists in the parish. (fn. 6) In the 1840s mass was being said in private houses, with the support of Captain George Collard (d. 1853) and his wife. In 1847 Captain Collard conveyed some land to his wife for her disposal for charitable purposes and in the same year she gave by deed a 2-acre site in Shernhall Street to build the mission chapel of ST. GEORGE. This small building of Kentish ragstone was opened in 1849 by Dr. (later Cardinal) Nicholas Wiseman, who was then living at Shern Hall and was one of the trustees. (fn. 7) Differences had arisen by 1851 (fn. 8) and in 1853 Mrs. Collard abandoned the faith, quarrelled with the priest, revoked all gifts she had made, and locked up the chapel. Wiseman built a small temporary chapel until the other was reopened in 1854, and in 1855 the trustees' title to the land conveyed to them by Mrs. Collard in 1847 was confirmed by a Chancery decree. (fn. 9)
The Walthamstow mission also served Woodford, Leyton, Wanstead, and Chingford, until their own missions opened. The present church, dedicated to OUR LADY AND ST. GEORGE, was opened in 1901, a massive brick building in the Early English style with circular apse and domed roof and a Lady chapel on the north side. (fn. 10) Six other chapels were added later. In 1903 Sunday attendances totalled 746. (fn. 11) The church of OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY AND ST. PATRICK, Blackhorse Road, was opened in 1908 (fn. 12) and the church of CHRIST THE KING, Chingford Road, in 1932. (fn. 13)
A Presbyterian meeting was licensed in Walthamstow in 1672, and not long afterwards a permanent congregation of Presbyterians existed in Marsh Street. (fn. 14) Their numbers and prestige grew in the 18th century; by 1778 there were said to be many dissenters in the parish, all Presbyterians except one family of Quakers and one of Baptists. (fn. 15) In 1786 some members of the Marsh Street congregation broke away to form a new meeting, which later became a Congregational church. Independent meetings were registered in private houses in 1798 and 1799, (fn. 16) and a permanent Independent congregation was formed in Wood Street in 1807. (fn. 17) Other meetings of unknown denomination were registered in private houses in 1818, 1822, and 1833. (fn. 18) Baptists were worshipping in Marsh Street in 1849, and from the 1850s the Wood Street Independent church became a Union church. Congregationalists, who formed another church in 1861, (fn. 19) remained the leading nonconformist group until the 1870s, when permanent congregations were formed by Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, Baptists, and Strict Baptists. Intensive missionary activity followed among Walthamstow's new population, including much social work in the poorer districts and among young people. The denominations already established spread, and were joined by the Free Methodists, Brethren, and Salvation Army in the 1880s, Unitarians and Presbyterian Church of England in the late 1890s, and Presbyterian Church of Wales and Friends by 1903.
In 1903 there were some 46 nonconformist churches and missions in Walthamstow, with Sunday congregations totalling over 13,827 (fn. 20) or about 56.5 per cent of worshippers of all denominations in the district. In terms of Sunday attendances the Congregationalists still had the largest nonconformist following, but the Free Methodists were close behind, the Lighthouse in Markhouse Road attracting congregations only exceeded in Walthamstow by those of the parish church of St. Mary.
The three main denominations founded no new churches after 1913, but between the two World Wars Spiritualists and small fundamentalist and pentecostal groups became established. In the 1930s membership generally fell and many churches were burdened by debt. During the Second World War dispersal of members and bomb damage increased the difficulties of many churches and compelled reorganization and retrenchment when it ended. The only newcomers after 1945 were small sects such as the Church of the Nazarene. In 1963 37 places of nonconformist worship were listed. (fn. 21) Two of these had closed by 1970.
The accounts of individual churches were completed in 1970. Dates in brackets after ministers' names show the years of their pastorate. Attendance statistics for 1903 are from the Daily News census. (fn. 22)
A room in Marsh Street was registered for Baptist worship by John Glaskin of Hackney, minister, in 1849. (fn. 23) A permanent congregation was established in the 1850s, when Wood Street Independent chapel, under a Baptist pastor, became a Union church. (fn. 24) Between 1874 and 1906 6 Baptist churches were formed; 5 of them were still active in 1970, with another founded in 1913. Membership figures quoted below are from the Baptist Handbooks.
Central church, Orford Road, originated in 1874 in services held for the Markhouse common district. (fn. 25) An iron hall was erected on the corner of Boundary and Boston Roads in 1875 and a permanent church was built in 1880. (fn. 26) A mission was opened at Higham Hill in 1886, and during the pastorate of W. Murray (1892–1914) a mission was begun in High Street. By 1907 there were 358 members. In 1914 the present church was built in Orford Road. It is a large red-brick building in the Gothic style with a south-west tower. Membership fell from 318 in 1915 to 296 in 1916 when some of the original Boundary Road members, finding their new church too distant, seceded and opened a small iron hut in Boundary Road. (fn. 27) In 1939 Central church had 349 members, and in 1967 269. The Boundary Road church, closed in 1914, was later taken over by the Walthamstow and Leyton Synagogue. (fn. 28)
Higham Hill church, Higham Hill Road, originated in 1885 when services began in a shop in that road. (fn. 29) The following year Boundary Road Baptist church opened a Higham Hill mission in St. Andrew's Road. From 1888, if not before, this was conducted in the old British schools building, previously occupied by the Friends. (fn. 30) A church was formed in 1896. The present church was opened in 1904. In 1921 there were 300 members, in 1939 205, and in 1967 66.
Erskine Road Spurgeon Memorial church, which originated in High Street in 1898, may have begun as a mission of Boundary Road. (fn. 31) About 1901 an iron hall was erected in Erskine Road, registered in 1902 as the Spurgeon Memorial church. (fn. 32) The church appears to have ceased about 1911–12, when there were 32 members. (fn. 33) The earlier date is the more likely if a tradition that the church furnishings went to Spruce Hill Baptist church is correct. (fn. 34) The Erskine Road site, on the corner of Melville Road, was occupied in 1970 as a school meals centre.
Blackhorse Road church was founded in 1898, with the help of the Pioneer Mission. (fn. 35) There were 120 members in 1903. The present church was opened in 1932. (fn. 36) There were 129 members in 1939 and 24 in 1967.
The Tabernacle, Greenleaf Road, originated in 1902 in a tent mission sponsored by the Pioneer Mission on Church Hill, on the site later occupied by the Strict Baptists. (fn. 37) Under the leadership of E. E. Welton, then a student pastor, a group met in Hoe Street until 1903, when Forest Road board school, Greenleaf Road, was hired. A church was formed in 1905 and a school-chapel opened and registered in 1906 as the Central Baptist Hall, Greenleaf Road. (fn. 38) Welton was pastor from 1905 to 1915. The chapel was enlarged in 1915 and reregistered as the Tabernacle. (fn. 39) In 1921 there were 281 members and by 1922 the church was clear of debt, with the help of a gift from (Sir) William Mallinson. In 1939 there were 306 members. The Tabernacle was destroyed by bombing in 1944, but services continued in a hall. The rebuilt Tabernacle, a contemporary compact building, opened in 1949. In 1967 church membership was 212.
Spruce Hill church, Brookscroft Road, originated about 1904, when J. S. Rideout, caretaker of Livingstone College, (fn. 40) at the suggestion of R. H. Eastty, minister of Erskine Road, started services in a disused shop at the junction of Thorpe and St. John's Roads. (fn. 41) In 1905 an iron church was erected in Brookscroft Road and registered as Spruce Hill Baptist church. (fn. 42) The present church was opened in 1911. (fn. 43) The original furniture, including the pulpit, is said to have come from the Erskine Road church, but was replaced in 1937, when the interior was reconstructed, with a pulpit and gallery over 200 years old from a church in north London. (fn. 44) Membership was 71 in 1939, and 37 in 1967.
Highams Park, Cavendish Road, originated in 1913 when Greenleaf Road members started a mission in Selwyn Avenue school. (fn. 45) A church was formed in 1915 (fn. 46) and a building erected on the present site about 1917. (fn. 47) The present church was opened in 1932. (fn. 48) Membership, which was 82 in 1939, rose after the Second World War from 189 in 1949 to 293 in 1956, when a Fellowship hall was opened. (fn. 49) In 1967 there were 279 members. In 1969 pre-school playgroups were organized in the hall. (fn. 50)
Forest Road Hall, Hervey Park Road, was built and registered in 1892. (fn. 51) It is said to have originated earlier as the Forest mission of Wood Street Union Church, (fn. 52) but was regarded as a Baptist place of worship by 1903, when Sunday attendances totalled 210. It was listed as a mission of the Erskine Road church in 1908 and until that church closed; it continued to be listed until 1926, but was included in 1928 among extinct or amalgamated Baptist missions. (fn. 53) The building was, however, listed as a mission in 1951, (fn. 54) was registered as unsectarian in 1961, (fn. 55) and was in regular use in 1970. (fn. 56)
Old Union Baptists.
Wood Street church originated in 1894 when two groups meeting in Hoe Street under J. Hamilton and T. A. Tucker united. The combined congregation moved to the old Independent church in Wood Street in 1895. This was occupied until 1907, when the present brick church, with steep roof and broad entrance porch flanked by round windows, was built farther down Wood Street. (fn. 57)
Highams Park Tabernacle, Fulbourne Road, was founded in 1904 by T. A. Tucker as a mission in Station Parade, moving to Hale End Road in 1905 and Cavendish Road in 1906. When the present church in Fulbourne Road was built in 1910 the pastor was T. H. Squire. (fn. 58)
Church Hill (Commercial Street Memorial) church, sometimes called Cairo Road church, was formed by the union of Zion, Maynard Road, and Commercial Street church (Lond.). (fn. 59) Zion church originated in 1874 in Orford Road; services were held in the public hall there in 1875 and in Maynard Road from 1876. In 1890 Zion was joined by a congregation which since 1886 had been meeting in the Grammar school, East Avenue. (fn. 60) The Particular Baptists of Commercial Street, whose church was formed in 1633 in Wapping, sold their premises in 1909 and in 1911 invited Zion to join them in building a new church at Walthamstow. The union was effected in 1913, and the Commercial Street Memorial church was opened in 1914. (fn. 61) A branch church was opened at King's Road, Chingford, in 1929. (fn. 62) There were 87 members in 1939 and 21 in 1967.
Selborne Road Tabernacle originated in 1882 when J. Copeland, pastor of Zion, Maynard Road, held meetings in St. James Street. A church was formed in Marsh (High) Street in 1883, with H. Dunkley as minister, and moved to Selborne Road on the east corner of Vernon Road in 1886, probably on completion of plans to build a church there. The Tabernacle was sold to the Midland Railway about 1891–2. (fn. 63)
The Brethren had an unusually strong following in Walthamstow. In 1903 there were 8 separate meetings, with Sunday attendances totalling 1,511, higher than those of Brethren in any other district in south-west Essex, and exceeded only by Croydon and Greenwich in the whole of London.
Folkestone Road hall may have originated in missions held at the town hall in 1884 on the application of Mr. Morris, whose plans for an iron hall in Queens Road were approved the same year. (fn. 64) The Brethren were certainly worshipping in the Queens Road hall by 1886. (fn. 65) The hall was enlarged in 1887. (fn. 66) A new hall in Folkestone Road was opened in 1889. (fn. 67) It was rebuilt in 1963 in a contemporary style. (fn. 68)
Higham Hill gospel hall, St. Andrew's Road, originated in 1887 when workers from the parent assembly in Queens Road held meetings in an iron room in Oatland Rise. (fn. 69) The present hall was built in 1897 and opened in the following year. After the First World War the hall was enlarged and a baptistery built, but by 1937 membership was declining. In 1963 the hall was still associated with the Brethren, but no Sunday services were being held. (fn. 70) In 1970 the hall was occupied by the Church of God. (fn. 71)
Wadham hall, Wadham Road, originated in 1903 in children's services held in Chapel End school. (fn. 72) These continued to 1938 when the former Primitive Methodist church in Wadham Road was taken over by the Brethren. (fn. 73) This church was demolished in 1953 and rebuilt as Wadham hall. (fn. 74)
The Christian Mission, Collingwood Road, was being conducted by the Brethren in 1903. (fn. 75) Previously leased to the Primitive Methodists, (fn. 76) the hall was listed as unsectarian from 1905 to 1922, when it apparently closed. (fn. 77) In 1903 the Brethren were also worshipping in the Clarendon hall, (fn. 78) in a gospel hall in Selborne Road, and in the 'New Room', Maude Road, and were holding children's services in Maynard Road schools and the Workmen's hall. (fn. 79) The Selborne Road gospel mission closed about 1912. (fn. 80) The Maude Road room may be identified with the Clockhouse gospel preaching room listed in directories. (fn. 81) Services ceased there about the late 1950s and in 1970 the small brick building was in use as a store. (fn. 82)
South Grove gospel hall, Markhouse Road, originated as a mission of Trinity Congregational church. (fn. 83) It was taken over in 1925 by Brethren from Folkestone Road, who bought the building in 1933. Brethren still worshipped there in 1970. (fn. 84)
In 1953 a former brick surface air-raid shelter in Highams Park behind Tamworth Avenue was registered by Brethren as a community centre. (fn. 85) It ceased a few years later and in 1969 the shelter was used as a council storage hut. (fn. 86)
Marsh Street church, High Street, is usually said to have originated in 1672, when the house of Samuel Slater, a minister removed in 1661 from the lectureship of St. James, Bury St. Edmunds (Suff.), was licensed for Presbyterian meetings. (fn. 87) At first the congregation does not seem to have thriven, for Slater was assessed to the Walthamstow hearth tax in 1672 but not in 1673, (fn. 88) and there were no nonconformists in Walthamstow in 1676. (fn. 89) In 1690–2 a meeting at Walthamstow was being supplied by preachers from London, at the expense of 'some Gent'. (fn. 90) This was no doubt William Coward, a wealthy London merchant and Jamaica planter who settled in Walthamstow some time after 1673 but before 1693. (fn. 91) Coward built a meeting-house in 1695 on land he owned on the north side of Marsh Street. He registered his own house for Presbyterian worship in 1716, and in 1718 he also registered the Marsh Street meeting-house for Independent worship. (fn. 92) There was apparently no settled minister, but visiting preachers included Philip Doddridge and probably Isaac Watts also, both friends of Coward. By his will, dated 1735, (fn. 93) Coward devised the meeting-house to trustees for use by Protestant dissenters. He pulled it down not long after, intending to rebuild it, but died in 1738 before doing so. His executors, however, conveyed the site in trust for the congregation and contributed towards erecting another meeting-house, which was registered for Presbyterian worship in 1739. (fn. 94) During the ministry of Hugh Farmer (1737–80) congregations increased, and in 1759 the meeting-house was extended on the west side and a vestry room built on the north side. (fn. 95) The Unitarian views of Joseph Fawcett (minister 1780–7) aroused controversy at Marsh Street, and in 1786 the evangelical members seceded to form a New Meeting.
The Old Meeting in Marsh Street survived to the 1830s, with the support of the Solly family of Leyton House in the Walthamstow Slip; trustees appointed in 1795 included three members of the family. (fn. 96) Though the meeting was reported in 1810 to be diminished, (fn. 97) its most distinguished pastor, Dr. Eliezer Cogan (1801–16), (fn. 98) is said to have attracted large congregations. Three brief pastorates followed, but after 1823 there was no settled ministry. A student pastor was appointed by Isaac Solly in 1829, and in that year a 'Socinian' congregation was still reported in Walthamstow. (fn. 99) But in 1837 it was stated that no service had been held for 3 years. (fn. 100) The chapel, listed as Unitarian, still existed in 1839 (fn. 101) and 1843, (fn. 102) but it had been pulled down by 1861.
The Marsh Street New Meeting opened in 1787 on a site given by William Couldery on the south side of Marsh Street. Part of the site became a burial ground. In 1792 Thomas Fletcher bequeathed £1,000 in trust for the minister's benefit. Under the vigorous ministry of George Collison (1797–1837) (fn. 103) the New Meeting was increasing by 1810. (fn. 104) Collison began another meeting in Wood Street in 1807, and by 1829 had under his ministerial direction Marsh Street New Meeting, 2 licensed rooms elsewhere in the parish, and a small chapel at Leytonstone, with an average of 500 worshippers. (fn. 105) The Marsh Street numbers continued to increase under J. J. Freeman (1837–46) and in 1838 side galleries were added to the church. By 1851 average Sunday attendances totalled 630. (fn. 106) In 1868 the Charity Commissioners agreed that the site of the Old Meeting, then in the hands of Isaac Solly, son of the last of its trustees to die, should be transferred to the New Meeting trustees to build a larger church. This new church, on the Old Meeting site, was opened in 1871. It was built of stone in the Gothic style, to the design of John Tarring & Son. The Conway hall, built in memory of Samuel Conway (minister 1871–95), was added in 1899. By 1903 the church had 369 members and total Sunday attendances of 770, besides attendances totalling 713 at the Conway hall and 2 other associated missions. Church membership at Marsh Street was 257 in 1939 but had fallen to 171 by 1949. As a result of bomb damage in 1944 the steeple became unsafe and was taken down in 1954. (fn. 107) The church closed in 1965, its congregation joining Trinity church. The church and Conway hall were demolished in the same year and replaced by shops. (fn. 108) The original New Meeting in Marsh Street was retained as a mission from 1871 to 1875, when it was let to the Primitive Methodists. (fn. 109) In 1899 the building was sold to them, but the graveyard, including the grave of George Collison, was retained by the Congregationalists until soon after 1962, when it was sold to the borough council. (fn. 110) The Primitive Methodists faced the front of the church with decorative stucco, inserted tracery in the windows, and added a porch, but the original structure of 1787 can still be recognized. It is a large rectangular building of brown brick with a rear gallery internally. The tall round-headed side windows are set in arched recesses below a dentil cornice. The altered two-storeyed front has similar windows with a central Venetian window above the entrance, the whole being crowned by a low-pitched gable. After the original New Meeting was taken over in 1875, the Marsh Street mission was transferred to the Marsh Street British schools built opposite Buxton Road in 1872. (fn. 111) When the schools were conveyed to the school board in 1881 the church reserved the right to their evening and week-end use, and the mission was conducted there until the buildings were sold in 1938. The following year a new Marsh Street mission, built by the Shaftesbury Society, was opened in Truro Road on the site of the previous Unitarian church; it is conducted jointly by the Congregationalists and the Society. (fn. 112) Marsh Street's Coppermill Lane mission, begun in 1896 and reorganized in 1898 as a branch church, ceased during the First World War.
Wood Street church, Vallentin Road, originated in 1807, when George Collison, minister of Marsh Street New Meeting, registered a 'new house' in Wood Street for Independent worship. (fn. 113) It was a small low-ceilinged hall opposite the Duke's Head, and was probably the meeting 'not of long date' described as 'Methodist' in 1810. (fn. 114) A small leasehold church was built on a different site in 1811, (fn. 115) and was under Collison's oversight in 1829. (fn. 116) When the lease expired, the landlord, Richard Jones, accepted a nominal rent for the church, but in 1843, after his bankruptcy, it was put up for sale with his other property. (fn. 117) It was bought in 1844 by Ebenezer Clarke, (fn. 118) who demolished it and in 1845 built another church on the site. Wood Street Independent church (fn. 119) was formally constituted in 1848 with 8 members, including 5 from the Clarke family. W. H. Hooper (minister 1851–80) was a Baptist. During his pastorate Wood Street grew rapidly to a peak of 292 members in 1880. In 1854 a new church, which became known as Wood Street Union, was built in Vallentin Road. (fn. 120) The old church survived as no. 160, Wood Street, with a shop-front, until 1969, when it was derelict. (fn. 121) In 1860 a gallery was added to the new church and the building was widened a few years later. In 1861 the church, with the help of Marsh Street, was supporting a mission near Markhouse Lane, and another at Hale End, perhaps in the building registered in that year for 'Protestants'. (fn. 122) Forest mission work at Whipps Cross, begun in the open by a missioner employed by the Barclay family in the 1860s, was later developed by Wood Street members. It was being conducted by 1886 in Miss Barclay's school hall (fn. 123) in Western Road, until 1891, when the hall was taken over by St. Stephen's church. (fn. 124) The mission was known as the Forest, Whipps Cross, or Chestnut Walk mission. It is said to have moved to Forest Road Hall, Hervey Park Road, but does not appear to have been associated with Wood Street after 1893. (fn. 125) In 1880 Wood Street was affiliated to both the Congregational Union and the Baptist Association. The Baptist affiliation ceased in 1930 when the church became Wood Street Congregational church. (fn. 126) In 1903 there were 203 members, but during the pastorate of W. E. Bickerstaff (1909–16) some members left, suspecting his interest in the New Theology; in the First World War the issue of pacifism further divided the congregation. There were only 85 members in 1921, but 118 by 1939. In 1940 the church was wrecked by bombing, but services continued in the adjoining halls. The church was demolished in 1952 and a smaller one was opened in 1956. (fn. 127) In 1968 there were 36 members.
Trinity, Orford Road, originated in 1861, when some Marsh Street members seceded, and after holding private services built a small wooden hall called the Ark, where student-pastors officiated. (fn. 128) A brick church was opened in 1864. The present church was built adjoining it in 1870, and enlarged in 1900. The earlier church became the lecture hall. Under J. W. Ellis (1878–90) the church grew. The South Grove mission was started in 1881 in an iron hall in South Grove (later Brunner) Road; a permanent mission and schoolroom were built in 1889 fronting Arkley and Markhouse Roads. (fn. 129) In 1882 Trinity also built a large Sunday school in West Avenue. (fn. 130) Under D. H. Cooper (1893–1903) membership rose to 370 by 1903, when Sunday attendances totalled 632, besides 266 at two missions. The second mission, in Church Hill Road, had been built by Mrs. Carter of the Limes, Shernhall Street, some time before 1882, (fn. 131) and was taken over by Trinity in 1898. From 1901 to 1915 Trinity also superintended a third mission, Spruce Hill. (fn. 132) During the pastorate of S. B. James (1906–16), who favoured the New Theology and later became a Socialist, many members left. In 1921 membership was 136. To ease growing financial difficulties the church reduced its responsibilities. In 1925 the South Grove mission was handed over to the Brethren (fn. 133) and the Church Hill Road mission to the London City Mission. (fn. 134) In 1935 the West Avenue Sunday school was let for storage; it was sold in 1952 and in 1970 was occupied by a pet-food firm. (fn. 135) Membership in 1939 was 109. In 1944–5 the church was severely damaged by bombing. It was restored in 1959 and in 1965 was joined by the Marsh Street congregation. The combined membership in 1968 was 93. In 1969–70 the church building was much altered. (fn. 136)
Highams Park church, Malvern Avenue, originated as a mission of Woodford Union church. (fn. 137) Services were started in a cottage at Hale End in 1875 by both Baptist and Congregational members in the early months of their secession from Woodford Congregational church. A small iron hall was built in 1881 (fn. 138) and enlarged in 1887. In 1893 a church of 23 members was formed in fellowship with Woodford Union church. A new church was built in 1897 and registered the following year as Congregational and United Free Methodist. (fn. 139) It was also known as Hale End Free church. In 1905 it became independent of the Woodford Union church, and in 1915 it was reregistered for Congregational worship. (fn. 140) From about 1912 the church was known as Highams Park church. (fn. 141) In 1927 a hall was built, where services were held after the church was damaged by bombing during the Second World War. (fn. 142) The church was reopened after restoration in 1949. There were 79 members in 1968.
Spruce Hill church, Brookscroft Road, originated in 1893 as a mission begun independently by some members of Trinity church. (fn. 143) A mission church was built in 1900. (fn. 144) In 1901 Trinity accepted its oversight and about this time A. A. Mathews became superintendent. (fn. 145) A men's Brotherhood founded by this mission later became the Mathews Memorial United Methodist church. (fn. 146) The mission appears to have become independent of Trinity in 1915. (fn. 147) Membership was always small. The church was temporarily closed in 1942 but reopened with a lay pastor in 1943. It closed about 1946. The building, which was opposite Woodend Road, was sold about 1952 and demolished; in 1969 the site was occupied by shops. (fn. 148)
Several Quakers lived in the parish in the late 17th century, (fn. 149) and one family in 1778, (fn. 150) that of Lewis Weston of High Hall, who refused to pay his rates in 1779. (fn. 151) Though such wealthy 19th-century residents as John Harman of Highams, John Gurney Fry of Hale End House, and Joseph Gurney Barclay of the Limes were Quakers, (fn. 152) there was no meeting-house in the parish until about 1870, when the Friends had a small place of worship at Higham Hill, which was also a day-school. (fn. 153) This meeting-house was taken over by the Baptists about 1888. (fn. 154) In 1903 a mission hall opened in Greenleaf Road as a branch of the Bedford Institute Association. Friends' hall, adjoining the mission hall, was opened in 1906. (fn. 155) In 1921 the Walthamstow Educational settlement was established at the hall, which became a centre of educational and social work among adults and young people. (fn. 156) An extension was opened in 1964. (fn. 157) The settlement is maintained jointly by the Friends and the borough council.
The three Methodist connexions which united in 1932 had 11 churches in Walthamstow in 5 different circuits. One church closed in 1937. In the same year the ex-United and ex-Primitive Methodist Walthamstow circuits combined to form a Walthamstow (Amalgamated) circuit, which was joined at the same time by the exWesleyan church previously in the Wanstead and Woodford circuit. The ex-United church previously in the Hackney circuit joined the Walthamstow circuit in 1941. By then every church in the circuit faced financial problems, some very serious. (fn. 158) One church was destroyed in the Second World War and two were so severely damaged that eventually they closed. The remaining 7 churches were still in use in 1970, all of them in the Walthamstow and Chingford circuit (fn. 159) which had been formed in 1968.
In the individual accounts below ex-Wesleyan (W), ex-Primitive (P), and ex-United (U) churches are treated in that order. Membership figures for 1969 are taken from the circuit plan. (fn. 160)
In 1810 a Methodist meeting-house 'not of long date' was reported, (fn. 161) but this was probably the Independent meeting-house registered in Wood Street in 1807. (fn. 162) In 1816 H. E. Webster registered a building at Chapel End; no denomination was given, but in 1819 he registered premises at Leytonstone as 'Wesleyan'. (fn. 163) In 1821 George Lawrence registered premises in Wood Street for Wesleyan worship. (fn. 164) Methodist services were held in Mr. Penn's house in Union Road for a short time in 1858. In the 1860s there was a Methodist Sunday school at Higham Hill and services were also held at the public hall in Orford Road. (fn. 165)
Church Hill (W) originated as a church built on Prospect Hill in 1872. (fn. 166) It was at first in the Hackney circuit and from 1876 in the Clapton circuit. In 1898 a new church was opened on Church Hill and Prospect Hill was taken over by the Presbyterians. (fn. 167) In 1941, when the church transferred to the new Chingford circuit, it was in debt, its manse, still mortgaged, had been demolished by bombing, and total Sunday attendances had fallen to 50. (fn. 168) In 1944 the church itself was destroyed by bombing; it was not rebuilt, and the site was later sold for offices. (fn. 169)
Blackhorse Road (W) originated about 1881 when a building near the Clock House was used as a mission for the St. James Street district. An iron church in the Clapton circuit was opened in 1883, and a larger red-brick church in 1899. (fn. 170) The church was damaged by bombing in 1940. (fn. 171) When it was transferred to the Chingford circuit in 1941 it was being used as a furniture store, while sparsely attended services were held in the iron building. (fn. 172) The society dispersed not long afterwards. The church was occupied in 1970 by a basketware firm. (fn. 173)
Handsworth Avenue, formerly Highams Park (W), originated in 1906–7 as a society in the Wanstead and Woodford circuit. (fn. 174) The church was opened in 1909. In 1937 it was transferred to the new amalgamated Walthamstow circuit (fn. 175) and assumed its present name. In 1969 there were 49 members.
Primitive Methodism was brought to Walthamstow in 1875 by R. S. Blair and other preachers of the Eighth London (Poplar) circuit. It was spread from 1876 by an intensive campaign led by Thomas Jackson, a missionary from Sheffield. (fn. 176) Four churches were established in eight years. The Walthamstow churches were attached to the Home Mission department until 1890, when they were transferred to the London Mission. In 1916 they were formed into the Walthamstow (P) circuit, which in 1937 amalgamated with the Walthamstow (U) circuit to form the Walthamstow (A) circuit. (fn. 177)
High Street (P) originated in 1875 when Blair took a lease of the old Marsh Street New Meeting Independent chapel. (fn. 178) This, once 'considered to have the most aristocratic congregation in the neighbourhood', became a centre for work among the poor. (fn. 179) After conducting a nine-month mission, Blair offered the chapel to the General Missionary Committee, which appointed Thomas Jackson in 1876 to open a Walthamstow mission and also temporarily to superintend the existing Bethnal Green mission. (fn. 180) The latter closed in 1879, but the new mission flourished. (fn. 181) By 1880 the Walthamstow society had 61 members, and missions had been opened in Wood Street, on Markhouse common, at Chapel End and Higham Hill, and on the Tower Hamlets estate. (fn. 182) In 1899 the freehold of the church was bought from the Congregationalists and the building was altered with financial aid from (Sir) William Mallinson and Sir W. P. Hartley. (fn. 183) The church was enlarged in 1926 by a first-floor extension at the back, built on stilts over the old Congregational burial ground. (fn. 184) Although the building had been altered High Street survived in 1969 as the oldest nonconformist place of worship still in use in Waltham Forest. There were then 76 members.
Wadham Road (P), Chapel End, originated in 1878 as a mission of Marsh (later High) Street. Services were held in the open and in a disused skittle-alley until a mission hall and site were given in 1880 by John Hitchman of Wadham Farm. (fn. 185) In 1903 it was the smallest of the Primitive Methodist churches. A new hall was built in 1923, (fn. 186) but closed in 1937 when its members transferred to the Mathews Memorial church. (fn. 187) The hall was later used by the Brethren. (fn. 188)
Higham Hill (P), Gloucester Road, originated as a mission of Marsh Street (later High Street). A school-chapel was opened in 1879 on a site given by John Hitchman; there were 10 members in 1880. A second schoolroom opened in 1904 and a third in 1908. Membership, however, remained small, and the projected church on the corner of Gloucester Road was never built. (fn. 189) In 1969 there were 20 members.
Hawthorne Road (P) originated in 1880, when missionaries from Marsh Street held open-air services on the Tower Hamlets estate. A church was built in 1882 with financial aid from John Hitchman. It had closed by 1917, and was bought in 1924 by St. Luke's church as a parish hall. (fn. 190) In 1964 the building was bought by the borough council for demolition, (fn. 191) but it still existed in 1970 in use as a store. It is a well-proportioned yellow-brick building designed in a 'classical' nonconformist style, with stone dressings and brick pilasters. (fn. 192)
A mission hall in Colchester Road was leased for a year by the Walthamstow (P) mission in 1886. In the following year a newly-built mission room in Collingwood Road was leased instead and retained until 1897, when it closed for lack of workers. (fn. 193)
Of Walthamstow's United Methodist churches four had originally been Free Methodist, two in the Hackney circuit and two in the Fifth London (later Forest Gate) circuit. The earliest was founded in 1888 and the other three by 1903, when their total congregations almost equalled those of the long-established Congregationalists. They were all included in the Walthamstow circuit formed in 1913, to which one other church was later added. In 1937 Walthamstow (U) circuit amalgamated with the Walthamstow (P) circuit. (fn. 194)
The Lighthouse (U), Markhouse Road, 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. (fn. 195) In 1889 Captain King of the Bullard King line of steamers, who was already associated with Free Methodist churches in West Ham, (fn. 196) helped to provide the present site and gave an iron hall. 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 connexions. A Young People's institute was opened in 1902. This was the best-attended nonconformist church in Walthamstow in 1903, with total Sunday congregations of 1,523; there were 361 members by 1904. (fn. 197) The members were drawn from the working classes of the district and became noted for their missionary and social activities. (fn. 198) In 1941 the Lighthouse transferred from the Hackney to the Walthamstow circuit. (fn. 199) There were 82 members in 1969.
Shern Hall (U), Shernhall Street, originated in 1896, mainly through the efforts of (Sir) William Mallinson. A temporary iron church, in the Fifth London (Stratford), later Forest Gate, circuit, was opened in 1897, and by 1898 there were 88 members. (fn. 200) The permanent church, designed by G. Baines & Son, opened in 1901. It is of red brick with stone dressings, in the Gothic style, with a clock-tower. The land required to enlarge the original site was given by Mallinson. By 1904 the society had 252 members. An institute, designed by Sir A. Gilder, was built in 1907–9 in Oliver Road, adjoining the church. It replaced the old iron church, which was sold. (fn. 201) In 1913 Shern Hall, with 339 members, became the head of the new Walthamstow circuit. (fn. 202) As Mallinson intended at its foundation the church became a lively centre of social Christian work. He was treasurer of the church from 1896 until his death in 1936 and contributed lavishly to its funds. Among his larger benefactions were the Wadham Lodge sports ground in Kitchener Road, vested in trustees in 1920, houses in Oliver Road given to provide Shern Hall with income, and the remodelling and furnishing of a side room as a chapel in 1934 in memory of his wife. In 1925 he vested in trustees £10,000 deposited in his name in the Shern Hall (Methodist) Building Society, founded in 1922, (fn. 203) the interest to help to maintain churches in the circuit and support their ministers and the capital to form a reserve fund for the building society. Shern Hall was severely damaged by bombing in 1940 and in 1944–5, but was later restored. In 1969 there were 170 members. In 1965 the Equity and Atlas Building Societies were merged in the Shern Hall (Methodist) Building Society, which in 1967 merged with the Magnet and North West Building Society and became known as the Magnet Building Society. (fn. 204)
Lloyd Park (U), Forest Road, originated in 1902, when missionaries from the Lighthouse held services in the Empire cinema. (fn. 205) An iron building, called the Lloyd Park hall, was opened in 1903, in the Hackney circuit. In 1911 the society transferred from the Hackney to the Forest Gate circuit, and in 1913 to the new Walthamstow circuit. (fn. 206) A permanent church, Lloyd Park Central hall, was completed in 1914. This incorporated shops for letting. An institute was added in 1923. The church was severely damaged by bombing in 1940 and 1944. Services continued in the Institute until the church closed in 1956. The premises, which had been burdened with debt, were sold to the Salvation Army in 1958.
Winchester Road (U), Highams Park, opened in 1903 in an iron building on a site given by John Hitchman. (fn. 207) The permanent church was opened in 1904. It was in the London Fifth (Stratford), later Forest Gate, circuit until 1913 when it was transferred to the new Walthamstow circuit; there were then 133 members. (fn. 208) The society in its early years received much help from Shern Hall members. The church was damaged in 1940 (fn. 209) but was later repaired. After the Second World War a community centre was built beside the church, comprising the Sunday school (1956) and the Memorial and Hodgson halls (1960). (fn. 210) These new buildings are of greyishpink brick in a contemporary style. In 1969 the church had 179 members.
Mathews Memorial (U), Penrhyn Crescent, originated as a men's meeting connected with the Spruce Hill Congregational mission and led for many years by A. A. Mathews (d. 1921). (fn. 211) In 1908 the old iron church from Shern Hall was bought for the meetings and erected in Brettenham Road. It became known as the Men's Own Brotherhood hall, Chapel End. (fn. 212) In 1924 the hall was reconstituted as the Mathews Memorial United Methodist church, in the Walthamstow circuit. A permanent church, in Penrhyn Crescent, was opened in 1930, and buildings for youth work were added in 1962. The church had 128 members in 1969.
Presbyterian Church of England.
St. Columba's church, Prospect Hill, originated in 1898 when Presbyterians took over the former Wesleyan church there. (fn. 213) A new church was built on the site in 1906. (fn. 214) It was almost destroyed by bombing in 1941, but services continued in improvised premises until it was rebuilt in 1957. (fn. 215) It was closed in 1968 and demolished by 1971. (fn. 216)
Presbyterian Church of Wales (Calvinistic Methodists).
Moreia, Church Hill, later in High Road, Leytonstone, originated in 1901, when Welsh residents began to meet for worship under the supervision of the Stratford Welsh church. (fn. 217) From 1901 to 1927 services were held in the Modern school, Grove Road, whose owner, J. O. Davies, was one of the church's first deacons. The church joined the London Welsh Methodist Presbytery in 1903. When the school closed in 1927 a Congregational church hall in Pembroke Road was hired, then the Y.M.C.A. hall on Church Hill until it was sold in 1932. D. A. Davies then bought Church Hill House, demolished it, (fn. 218) and converted the stable in 1933 into the Moreia church. (fn. 219) In 1958 the Walthamstow congregation, with help from members of the former Welsh church at Stratford in West Ham, (fn. 220) built a new church in High Road, Leytonstone. (fn. 221) It is a brick building in a contemporary style, designed by T. & H. Llewelyn Daniel. The Walthamstow Moreia was taken over by the Church of the Nazarene. (fn. 222)
The Salvation Army.
The Walthamstow Citadel, Forest Road, originated in a tent mission after which, in 1888, the Army registered for worship premises at a school in High Street. (fn. 223) A Citadel, with shops below, designed by W. Gilbee Scott, was built about 1891–2 on the site of Ball's boxing booths. (fn. 224) By 1903 its Sunday congregations totalling 932 were second only to the Lighthouse among nonconformist places of worship. In 1958 the Army bought the former Lloyd Park Methodist church, which was registered as the Citadel in 1961. (fn. 225) In 1970 the old Citadel was occupied as shops and storage.
A hall at the corner of Oatland Rise and St. Andrew's Road, Higham Hill, was registered in 1901. (fn. 226) A Young People's hall was added about 1929. (fn. 227) The buildings were destroyed by bombing about 1941–2 and in 1970 St. Andrew's Court flats stood on the site. (fn. 228)
In Wood Street the Army was using the old Independent church in 1894, and from c. 1899 to the 1920s ran a Women's Social Work home at the Clock House, Whipps Cross. (fn. 229) A hall which was registered in 1908 was closed in 1922. (fn. 230)
At Highams Park a hall registered in the Avenue in 1909 may have been associated with the work of an Eventide home being run there about 1912. (fn. 231) A hall was registered in Hoe Street in 1910. (fn. 232)
The National Spiritualist church, Vestry Road, originated in 1920, when services were started in a hall adjoining the Post Office sorting office. (fn. 233) In 1924 the congregation took over the present premises, the old National school, opposite the museum. (fn. 234) Walthamstow Spiritualist Lyceum church was meeting in the Workmen's hall, High Street, in 1929. (fn. 235) Its present church in Coleridge Road was opened in 1933. (fn. 236) Walthamstow First Christian Spiritualist Church, Prospect Hill, was registered in 1953 but ceased by 1954. (fn. 237)
Unitarians and Free Christians.
The Free Christian church, no. 60 Orford Road, originated in 1897 when a Unitarian iron church was erected in Truro Road. (fn. 238) R. W. Sorensen, who became honorary pastor of the church in 1916, still held that office in 1970. He was Labour M.P. for Leyton, 1929–31, and without break from 1935 to 1964, when he was created a life peer. (fn. 239) Under his leadership the church was notable for the courage of its convictions. During the First World War the members held pacifist meetings in the open, and in 1919, during the blockade of Germany, put up posters with the text, 'If thine enemy hunger feed him'. In 1938 the church was sold, (fn. 240) but the congregation continued to meet in borrowed halls (fn. 241) until bombing and evacuation scattered them in the Second World War. In 1945 services were resumed in a house in Orford Road. In 1970 the church had 30 members.
Brandon Road railway mission was founded about 1883 and an iron hall built beside the railway in 1886. The hall was damaged by bombing in the Second World War, but rebuilt, and another prefabricated hall was bought in 1949. (fn. 242) The mission was still in use in 1969 in spite of the redevelopment of this area. (fn. 243)
The London City Mission conducted a mission in Wood Street in the old Independent church from 1886 to 1893. (fn. 244) In 1925 the L.C.M. took over the Church Hill Road mission hall from Trinity Congregational church and rebuilt it in 1951. (fn. 245) The mission closed in 1970. (fn. 246)
Other Churches and Missions.
Bethesda mission hall, Wood Street, was registered in 1892 but had ceased by 1899. (fn. 247) Seventh Day Adventists formed a church in 1922 on the site previously occupied by the Walthamstow and Leyton synagogue on the corner of Boundary and Devonshire Roads. The present red-brick church was built in 1928. (fn. 248) The Pentecostal Hall, Wood Street, was registered in 1926; its members moved the same year to Emmanuel Hall, Erskine Road, where services of the Pentecostal Church of the Assemblies of God were still being held in 1970. (fn. 249) The Assembly hall, Maynard Road, was registered by Christians in 1937, but this had ceased by 1954. (fn. 250) Bethany hall, no. 69 Grove Road, was registered in 1940. (fn. 251) Christian Tulipeans registered Tulip hall, no. 18 Montalt Road, in 1942; this had ceased by 1954. (fn. 252) Christadelphians were meeting in Roberts hall, Wadham Road, in 1958. (fn. 253) The Church of the Nazarene took over the Welsh Presbyterian church on Church Hill in 1958; (fn. 254) it still existed in 1970. Jehovah's Witnesses bought the Fiesta Co-operative hall (originally a Salvation Army hall) in Hoe Street in 1962 and registered it as Kingdom hall in 1963; they were still worshipping there in 1970. (fn. 255) In 1970 members of the Church of God were meeting in Higham Hill gospel hall, previously occupied by the Brethren. (fn. 256)
Walthamstow and Leyton synagogue, Boundary Road, was founded in 1902, on the corner of Devonshire Road. (fn. 257) Sabbath attendances totalled 72 in 1903. (fn. 258) Between 1914 and 1922 the synagogue took over the former Boundary Road Baptist church. (fn. 259) The Samuel Goldman Memorial hall adjoining was built in 1956. (fn. 260) The New Federated synagogue, Queens Road, was established in 1923, and rebuilt in red and yellow brick in 1928. (fn. 261) In 1968 the Boundary Road and Queens Road congregations amalgamated to form the Waltham Forest Hebrew Congregation, worshipping mainly at the Boundary Road synagogue, but still holding high festival services at the Queens Road synagogue. (fn. 262) Highams Park and Chingford Affiliated Synagogue, Marlborough Road, was founded in 1932, in hired premises. A yellow-brick single-storey synagogue opened in 1937. Membership rose from 274 in 1949 to 400 in 1964. In 1968 the Marc and Adele Blair hall for youth work was built on to the synagogue, in matching style, completing a symmetrical front. (fn. 263)