A History of the County of Essex: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1978.
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The 'church of Havering', i.e. St. Andrew's, Hornchurch, existed by 1163, when Henry II gave it to the newly-founded priory of Hornchurch. (fn. 1) When the priory was dissolved in 1391 its possessions in Hornchurch were bought by William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, as part of the endowments of New College, Oxford. (fn. 2) In 1392 a vicarage was for the first time ordained. (fn. 3) That regulation was revoked in 1398, (fn. 4) but the college, following a precedent already set at Romford, made voluntary arrangements in some ways similar to those of a normal vicarage. Each successive incumbent, styled a vicar or chaplain, (fn. 5) held office on a long lease. Fifteenth-century leases were conditional upon the vicar's good behaviour, efficient service, personal residence, and sometimes his payment of a small rent; he was entitled to oblations, small tithes, and to allowances of clothing, corn, hay, and fuel. (fn. 6) By the early 19th century the vicar was receiving a stipend from the college instead of tithes and allowances. (fn. 7) Leasing continued until 1926–7, when the college endowed the vicarage. (fn. 8) New College still has the advowson.
Hornchurch priory probably exercised peculiar jurisdiction in the parish, but no details of it are known. New College certainly did so, though its jurisdiction in Hornchurch seems to have been narrower than in the college's other Essex peculiar of Writtle and Roxwell. (fn. 9) The bishop of the diocese never instituted to Hornchurch before the 20th century. (fn. 10) In 1410 his authority was invoked to confirm the agreement concerning the new chapel at Romford, (fn. 11) but in the 18th century he formally disclaimed jurisdiction in the parish at least twice. (fn. 12) The archdeacon of Essex never inducted the vicar, but, at least up to the 18th century, the wills of persons from Hornchurch, Romford, and Havering were usually proved in his court. (fn. 13) In 1427 and 1532 the archdeacon was involved in lawsuits concerning his rights in Hornchurch. (fn. 14) Under Elizabeth I and James I several cases relating to Hornchurch were heard in the archdeacon's court, including a long dispute between Romford and Havering over chapelrates. (fn. 15) When the chapel-rate issue recurred in 1660 the church courts had not yet been revived after the Interregnum, and for that reason no further action was taken. (fn. 16) In 1682–3 a similar case, and another concerning the election of a chapelwarden for Havering, were heard and decided by the official of the archdeacon acting as 'the judge of this peculiar and exempt jurisdiction' (of Hornchurch). (fn. 17) That formula indicates that the archdeacon was acting only as the agent of New College, and at the archdeacon's visitation of 1683 the vicar of Hornchurch formally denied the archdeacon's right to enter the church, though later admitting him by courtesy. (fn. 18) In 1740 Romford vestry resolved to ask New College 'to establish an ecclesiastical court in this peculiar jurisdiction,' (fn. 19) and this was evidently done soon after: its earliest records date from 1748. The commissary of the peculiar, appointed by New College, issued marriage licences, granted probates, and conducted visitations. (fn. 20) He also confirmed church-rates levied within the peculiar. (fn. 21) By 1876, however, the archdeacon's visitation included Hornchurch, (fn. 22) and in 1903 the vicar of Hornchurch was instituted by the bishop. (fn. 23)
About 1355 the church of Hornchurch, with its chapels, was valued at 100 marks. (fn. 24) The rectory became the manor of Hornchurch Hall, the descent of which is treated elsewhere. (fn. 25) In 1650 the rectory was valued at £800, out of which the vicar of Hornchurch received £55 in small tithes, and the chaplains of Romford and Havering £45 and £20 respectively. (fn. 26) In the 1840s the rectorial tithes of Hornchurch, Romford, and Havering were commuted for £4,272. (fn. 27) Over 900 a. land, also belonging to New College, were then tithe free. The vicarage was valued at about £280 in 1791. (fn. 28) In 1846 the vicar's income included £5 from lands formerly in Havering park. (fn. 29) That payment had probably replaced an ancient right to a buck and a doe from the park. (fn. 30) In 1851 the vicar's stipend was £700, with a further £30 from fees. (fn. 31)
The ancient Vicarage, known in its later years as the Chaplaincy, (fn. 32) stood on the north side of High Street opposite the church. It was built by New College in the financial year 1399–1400, and at the same time was divided by a wall from the Rectory (later Hornchurch Hall). (fn. 33) Those arrangements suggest that the new owners were adapting the priory site for parochial use. The Vicarage was a timber-framed building, originally comprising an aisled hall with a solar wing to the west, and possibly a similar wing to the east. (fn. 34) In the later 17th century the whole house except the west wing was demolished and replaced by a two-storey timber-framed structure with an eastern cross-wing, and a separate gabled compartment on the north front housing the main staircase. Minor alterations were made to the east wing in the 18th century, and in the later 19th century two short parallel wings of brick were built at the east end of the south front. The building went out of use in 1969. (fn. 35) In 1970, when it was awaiting demolition, a fire revealed substantial remains of the original structure. (fn. 36) When it was demolished parts of the framework of the west wing were removed and stored by the London borough of Havering. The present Chaplaincy, formerly called Wykeham Lodge, is a modern house immediately west of the church.
Simon Abenach, by his will proved in 1307, gave houses in London to maintain a chaplain at the altar of St. Peter in Hornchurch. (fn. 37) There may have been a connexion between that chantry and the guild of St. Peter, mentioned in 1479. (fn. 38) The guild of Jesus or the Holy Trinity, and that of St. Mary, also existed in the late 15th century. (fn. 39) In the early 16th century they used the south and north chapels respectively. (fn. 40) The Jesus guild survived until its dissolution in 1548, when it had an income of £5 5s., and was employing a priest; it was said to have been founded by William Baldwin. (fn. 41) The 'Trinity house' still survived in 1708. (fn. 42)
The vicars of Hornchurch have usually been members of New College, and this tradition is still strongly maintained. (fn. 43) Thomas Duke, vicar 1531– 40, was suspected of plotting against Henry VIII. (fn. 44) John Meyrick, 1570–4, was later bishop of Sodor and Man. (fn. 45) William Lambert, vicar 1574–92, became involved in a long dispute with John Leche, whom he accused of conducting an Anabaptist conventicle and school at Hornchurch. (fn. 46) Thomas Mann, vicar from 1632, appears to have been sequestrated about 1645, though he remained in the parish until his death in 1648. (fn. 47) John Hoffman was acting as minister from 1645 to 1648. (fn. 48) He had four successors during the Interregnum, of whom the last was Michael Wells, vicar 1658–86. (fn. 49) Few references to assistant curates have been noticed before the later 19th century, (fn. 50) when the first mission churches were opened. During the past 50 years Hornchurch, with a tradition of 'central' churchmanship, (fn. 51) has become one of the most populous and flourishing parishes in the diocese. In 1973 the staff included two curates, a deaconess, and a lay reader. (fn. 52)
The church of ST. ANDREW, which stands on the hill at the top of High Street, consists of chancel, north and south chapels, four-bay nave, north and south aisles, north porch, and west tower. (fn. 53) It is built of septaria and ragstone, with some brick, and limestone dressings. The present building originated in the 13th century, but during the 15th century the aisles and chancel were rebuilt and the north and south chapels, clerestorey, porch, and tower were added. The south aisle and chapel were rebuilt in 1802.
Nothing now survives of the church granted to Hornchurch priory in 1163: it seems to have been completely rebuilt in the 13th century. Work was in progress in 1228, and possibly by 1220. (fn. 54) The nave arcades and the triple sedilia in the chancel survive from the 13th century. Soon after New College bought the benefice further work was put in hand. Between 1405 and 1408 the chancel was rebuilt and its windows filled with 167 sq. ft. of glass, which no longer survives. (fn. 55) The aisles were rebuilt about the same time. Later in the 15th century the chapels, clerestorey, and north porch were added and the chancel floor was probably raised. The east window of the north chapel contains a few fragments of 15thcentury glass, including the arms of Deyncourt and a royal figure, probably Edward the Confessor. (fn. 56) The tower, planned by 1476, was completed c. 1491–2. (fn. 57) It is of 3 stages, with embattled parapet and turrets, and recessed spire. One parapet bears the letters RF in stone, (fn. 58) and until 1921 the letter M, or a reversed W, appeared in stone on the west wall of the tower. (fn. 59) On the west face of one turret is the stone figure of a seated bishop. (fn. 60)
The roofs of the chancel, north chapel, nave, and north aisle, seem to date from c. 1500 and to have been planned by 1486. (fn. 61) Those of the chancel and nave were then painted in a red and black chequered design, with gold quatrefoils superimposed. (fn. 62)
In 1716 the church was 'pewed and beautified'. (fn. 63) The work then carried out created a rich interior described by one writer as like those in Wren's city churches, and including a richly carved wooden pulpit, a reredos in the style of Gibbons, a panelled chancel, and a west gallery. (fn. 64)
In 1802 the south aisle and chapel were rebuilt in brick and the spire was clad with copper, replacing lead. (fn. 65) The architect was probably John Johnson (d. 1814), the county surveyor. (fn. 66) In 1826 the east window, long blocked, was re-opened. (fn. 67)
Between 1869 and 1871 the church was heavily restored. (fn. 68) A new east window was inserted, the chancel and south chapel arches were rebuilt, the sanctuary raised, the chancel ceiled, and the Georgian fittings removed. In 1913 a choir vestry was made beneath the south chapel, and in 1921 the eastern gable of the chancel was rebuilt. (fn. 69) In 1954–62 the tower was strengthened and the roofs were repaired, the chancel was unceiled, the sanctuary floor was again lowered, and new east and belfry windows were inserted. (fn. 70) In 1970 a new church hall was opened on the south side of the church, to which it is connected by a covered way. (fn. 71)
On the eastern gable of the chancel is the carved stone head of a Highland bull with hollow copper horns. (fn. 72) It was first mentioned in 1824, though 'points of lead fashioned like horns', apparently in the same position, can be traced back to 1610. (fn. 73) The place-name 'Horned church' occurs by the 13th century. The church may have had horn-like gables, or have been surmounted by features resembling horns, possibly associated with the local leather industry. (fn. 74) When the horns became associated with a bull is not known. A bull's head appears on the seal of the prior of Hornchurch in 1384–5, (fn. 75) and by 1719 New College was providing an annual feast of 'bull and brawn'. (fn. 76)
In 1719 there was a marble font with a black-letter inscription. (fn. 77) It may have survived until 1817, when it was replaced by a stone one. (fn. 78) which in turn was replaced by a wooden one in 1970.
A bequest to the priest of the Holy Trinity guild in 1479 on condition that he could play the organ implies the existence of an organ then. (fn. 79) In 1552 there were two organs, both broken. (fn. 80) A barrel organ was erected in the west gallery in 1833. (fn. 81) A two- manual organ replaced it in 1861 and a three-manual one, in the south chapel, in 1913. (fn. 82)
There were five bells in 1552. They were recast into six by Mears & Co. in 1779, and two more, by the same firm, were added in 1901. (fn. 83) Two large earthenware pitchers, dated 1731 and 1815, and formerly used to hold beer for the bell-ringers, are in the church. (fn. 84) There was a church clock by 1674, when it was replaced. A new clock was installed in 1814. (fn. 85)
In 1385 the church had 3 cups and 3 grails. (fn. 86) The plate now includes 2 silver gilt cups and patens of 1563 and 1733, 2 silver gilt patens of c. 1690 and 1719, a silver flagon of 1699, an alms-dish of 1716, and a golden cup given in 1948. (fn. 87) The parish chest dates from the 18th century. Earlier chests, which no longer survive, were mentioned in 1552 and 1668. (fn. 88)
The church has many monuments. (fn. 89) There are brasses, or parts of brasses, to Thomas Scargill (d. 1476), Thomas Crafford (d. 1508) of Dovers, Catherine Fermor (d. 1510), George Reede (d. 1531) vicar, Peerce Pennant (d. 1590) the alms-house founder, Thomas (d. 1591), Humphrey (d. 1595), and William (d. 1602) Drywood, and brass indents for Boniface de Hart, (fn. 90) canon of Aosta and probably prior of Hornchurch (in 1327), and Philip of Dover (d. 1335), lord of Dovers. An altar-tomb commemorates William Ayloffe (d. 1517) of Bretons. (fn. 91) There are other monuments to Francis Rame (d. 1618), Richard Blackstone (d. 1638), Thomas Witherings (d. 1651) of Nelmes, Sir Francis Prujean (d. 1666), and one to Richard Spencer (d. 1784) by John Flaxman. A floriated coffin-lid, probably of the 13th century, survives. Some of the earlier brasses were mutilated in 1644–6, when their 'superstitious inscriptions' were removed by Parliamentary order. (fn. 92)
There are two charities for the maintenance of the church. (fn. 93) Church field, comprising 6 a., part of Gibbs at Perrys farm, Romford, was given in 1563 by William Talbot, vicar of Rainham. The rent from it was £2 13s. 4d. in the period 1623–36, £5 in 1656, and £20 in 1837. In 1934 the land, then 7 a., was sold for £1,646. In 1975 the income from stock was £100. Shipman's croft, later called Gogneys, comprised 2 a. in South End Road, Hornchurch. It seems to have been given in or before 1570 by Agnes Shipman. In 1624 it was said to be for the poor, but in 1627, when it was leased to William Gogney for 15s. a year, the rent was to be used to repair the church. In 1837 the rent was £4 4s. The land was sold in 1938 for £900. In 1975 the income from stock was £31.
Mildred Bearblock, by her will of 1865, gave £111 in trust for the most regular attendants at church. In 1874 the vicar, who had distributed the charity for two years, refused to do so any longer, and by a Scheme of that year the income was to be used for Sunday school prizes. By 1917 Bearblock's charity was said to be combined with that of Whennell, the total income of about £10 being used to buy Sunday school prizes, books, and furniture. (fn. 94) In 1975 the income from Bearblock's charity was £7.
St. Andrew, Hornchurch, had two ancient chapelries, Romford and Havering. During the Interregnum an unsuccessful attempt was made to form them into separate parishes. (fn. 95) Havering eventually became independent for ecclesiastical purposes in the 1780s, and Romford in 1848–9. (fn. 96) Since 1849 six new churches, all originally missions of St. Andrew, have been built in Hornchurch. Two of them remain under St. Andrew: the church of ST. GEORGE, Kenilworth Gardens, (fn. 97) built in 1931, and that of ST. MATTHEW, Chelmsford Drive (1956). (fn. 98) Of the others three have been given their own parishes, and one has been transferred to Rainham.
The mission church of ST. JOHN, South Hornchurch, South End Road, was opened in 1864 and enlarged in 1882. (fn. 99) In 1954 it was transferred to Rainham. (fn. 100) A new church, dedicated to ST. JOHN AND ST. MATTHEW was built on an adjoining site in 1957. (fn. 101)
The church of ST. PETER, Harold Wood, Gubbins Lane, originated in 1871, when an iron building was erected in Church Road. (fn. 102) In 1939 a permanent brick church was opened in Gubbins Lane with the help of contributions from James and George H. Matthews, local millers. A separate parish, taken out of St. Andrew's, was then formed, the advowson of the vicarage being vested in New College, Oxford. Under Bernard Hartley, priest-in-charge and later vicar, 1913–46, St. Peter's developed a strong evangelical tradition. When the Harold Hill estate was built after the Second World War the eastern part of it was transferred from the parish of Romford to Harold Wood, (fn. 103) and the new church of St. Paul, Harold Hill (1953) was a mission of St. Peter's until a separate parish was allotted to it in 1956. (fn. 104) A singlestorey annexe was added to St. Peter's church in 1963. (fn. 105)
The church of THE HOLY CROSS, Hornchurch Road, originated in 1920, when a hut, formerly a chapel in the army camp at Grey Towers, was re-erected at the corner of Malvern Road and Park Lane, to serve as a mission church and social centre for north-west Hornchurch. (fn. 106) The mission was at first run jointly by the Church Army and the vicar of Hornchurch, but in 1922 the vicar assumed complete responsibility. A new parish, taken out of St. Andrew, was formed in 1925, the advowson of the vicarage being vested in New College and the bishop alternately. (fn. 107) In 1933 a permanent church was built on a new site at the corner of Hornchurch Road and Park Lane. (fn. 108)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS, Elm Park, St. Nicholas Avenue, originated in 1936, when a temporary building was erected. (fn. 109) A permanent church was opened in 1956. (fn. 110) In 1957 a separate parish, taken out of St. Andrew, was formed, the advowson of the vicarage being vested in the bishop. (fn. 111)
There are a few references to Hornchurch recusants in the late 16th century. (fn. 112) During the late 17th and early 18th centuries several members of the Prujean family, of Suttons Gate, were papists. (fn. 113)
The church of ST. MARY, Hornchurch Road, which serves north-west Hornchurch, was built in 1931 and consecrated in 1933. (fn. 114) There are junior and infant day-schools attached. At Elm Park a separate parish was formed, and a church hall built in 1939. (fn. 115) The church of ST. ALBAN, Langdale Gardens, was built in 1960. (fn. 116) It is served by the Verona Fathers. A parish was formed for east Hornchurch in 1955, and the church of THE ENGLISH MARTYRS, Alma Avenue, was then opened. (fn. 117) South Hornchurch is served by the church of Our Lady of La Salette, which is treated under Rainham. (fn. 118)
PROTESTANT NONCONFORMITY. (fn. 119)
Haveing Well Presbyterian, later Independent meeting, Hornchurch Road, was first mentioned in 1691, when its minister, Mr. Dod the elder, had to leave after a stay of three years because the congregation was to poor to support him. (fn. 120) He was probably Robert Dod, who had been ejected in 1662 from the rectory of Inworth. (fn. 121) By 1698, when Thomas Wight was minister, a large meeting-house, with a graveyard, had been built at the expense of Thomas Webster, whose family about that time acquired Nelmes. Samuel Wilson, who was minister for some years up to his death in 1727, lived at Dagenham, from which some of his congregation probably came. (fn. 122) His successor, William Sheffield, left in 1732. The minister of Romford Independent church then took over the pastorate of Havering Well. Havering Well continued as a dependency of Romford until 1819, when it was demolished, and the materials were used in the building of the new meeting-house in North Street, Romford. The Havering Well graveyard was preserved, and interments there continued until the later 19th century. In 1973 about a third of the graveyard, on the south side, was ploughed up and paved in preparation for road widening. (fn. 123)
Hornchurch Baptist church, North Street, seems to have originated in 1859, when Hermon Independent chapel, High Street, was registered for worship. (fn. 124) Hermon was probably identical with the mission which during the 1860s and 1870s was supported by Romford and Upminster Congregational churches. (fn. 125) In 1877 the members of the mission formed a church, but having found it difficult to get Congregational preachers they sought the help of Spurgeon, who sent students from his Baptist college at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. (fn. 126) In 1880 the church adopted a Baptist constitution, and in 1882 the present building was erected in North Street, on land given by John Abraham of Upminister. Spurgeon preached at the stone-laying and gave £100 to the building fund. (fn. 127) The first settled pastor came in 1890. A schoolroom was added in 1885. The church itself was enlarged in 1903. Between 1931 and 1936 it was further enlarged and modernized, and new schools were built. North Street was for long the leading nonconformist church in Hornchurch, and founded three other churches.
Ardleigh Green Baptist church, Ardleigh Green Road, originated in 1914 as a mission of Hornchurch. (fn. 128) In 1932 it joined the Essex Baptist Association. (fn. 129) A new school-chapel was built on the same site in 1933. (fn. 130)
Harold Park Baptist church, Harold Court Road, was founded in 1930, and joined the Essex Baptist Association in the same year. (fn. 131) In 1932–3 the church was regretting the departure of the Association 'from old paths' and its 'dabbling in the Oxford Group movement'. (fn. 132) By 1959 it had joined the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical churches. (fn. 133) The building was extended in 1960. (fn. 134)
Elm Park Baptist church, Rosewood Avenue, originated in 1937, with house meetings and a Sunday school, supported by the Hornchurch Baptists and the Essex Baptist Association. (fn. 135) A school-chapel was built in 1938, and the church was formally constituted in 1939. The building was damaged by bombing in 1940. A youth hall was added in 1946. A new church was built in 1963.
A Wesleyan Methodist society, meeting in a house, was reported in 1829. (fn. 136) It had a regular congregation of 80, and was under the care of the Romford minister in the Spitalfields circuit. The house may have been Hollies, in North Street, which was being used as a nonconformist chapel about 1835. (fn. 137) In 1854 part of a building occupied by Jonathan Diaper of Hornchurch was registered for Wesleyan worship. (fn. 138) That society also seems to have been short-lived.
Gidea Park (Wesleyan) Methodist church, Manor Avenue, originated in 1926, when a school-chapel, in the Ilford circuit, was opened. (fn. 139) Extensions were carried out in 1931–2. Gidea Park was transferred to the new Romford circuit in 1947. A new church was built in 1958.
Hornchurch (Wesleyan) Methodist church, High Street, originated about 1929 with meetings in the Masonic Hall. (fn. 140) A school-chapel, in the Ilford circuit, was opened in 1933. It was transferred to the Romford circuit in 1947. A new church was built in 1958.
Harold Wood (United) Methodist church, The Drive, originated in 1889, when an undenominational mission hall, in Athelstan Road, was registered. (fn. 141) That was taken over about 1908 by the United Methodists, and became part of the Forest Gate circuit. (fn. 142) In 1929 a church and school were built on a large site at the corner of Gubbins Lane, with the aid of funds from (Sir) William Mallinson (Bt.). Harold Wood was transferred to the Ilford circuit in 1946 and to the Romford circuit in 1947. A new church was built in 1962, and the 1929 building then became a hall. (fn. 143)
Grenfell Hall Methodist church, Grenfell Avenue, originated in the early 1930s with house meetings. (fn. 144) A site was given by Thomas England, the estate developer, and a two-storey church was opened in 1936. It was in the Ilford circuit until 1947 and then in the Romford circuit.
Elm Park Methodist church, Mungo Park Road, was opened in 1957, in the Romford circuit. (fn. 145)
Nelmes United Reformed church, Nelmes Road, Emerson Park, was formed in 1906 as Hornchurch Congregational church. (fn. 146) Initial help was given by Romford Congregational church. Meetings were held in a hall in Berther Road until 1909, when a permanent building was erected in Nelmes Road, on a site given by Thomas Dowsett of Southend-on-Sea. (fn. 147) A new hall was added in 1960. (fn. 148)
The Brethren had two congregations at Hornchurch in 1917. (fn. 149) One of them was meeting in the Billet Lane hall, and it remained there until 1958, when it built Emerson Park chapel, Butts Green Road. (fn. 150) The Brethren also have meeting-places at Bethany hall, Abbs Cross Lane, registered 1935, Athelstan hall, Athelstan Road, Harold Wood (1952), and Hillview hall, Hillview Avenue, Hornchurch (1969). (fn. 151)
The Evangelical Free church, Brentwood Road, originated in 1888, when a mission hall was built in Boundary Road, Romford. (fn. 152) A free church was formed in 1894. The present church, erected in 1902, was just inside Hornchurch. The Full Gospel church of the Assemblies of God, Frederick Road, south Hornchurch, existed by 1951. (fn. 153) Whybridge Evangelical Free church, Rainham Road, south Hornchurch, originated by 1951 as the Whybridge Hall. (fn. 154) The church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Ardleigh Green Road, was built in 1964 on a large, wooded site. (fn. 155) It is of white brick and timber with part of the front wall in rock-faced brick. The detached spire is of gilded metal in the shape of an arrow. Among several small undenominational missions in Hornchurch (fn. 156) is the Craigdale Hall, Craigdale Road, which goes back to the 1920s. (fn. 157)
Elm Park affiliated synagogue was established in 1939, and became affiliated to the United Synagogue in 1948. (fn. 158) A permanent building was erected in Woburn Avenue in 1949.