All change at All Saints

Thursday, 20 September 2018

As we concluded the second part of our history of the Church of England in Forest Gate, the Brentwood Diocese undertook the second of three consultations on the fate of All Saints church.

This post reproduces the information boards on display at the event, and encourages readers to take advantage of the feedback process the church and potential developers are operating (click on the images to enlarge).  See the end of this post for details.

All Saints was built in the 1880's, as part of the explosion of church building highlighted in the last post on this blog - initially as an iron church, in 1880 and finally the present building in 1886.

As with other local churches, All Saints has seen a decline in congregations since its heyday.  In the 1970's its accompanying hall and vicarage were demolished, to be replaced by the housing now surround the church.

The church itself is no longer fit-for-purpose for its congregation. It is too big, the floor space is inflexible, and cannot accommodate the range of activities the church leaders would like. Its fuel bills are huge and rising repairs and maintenance costs make it a completely uneconomic building.

The local congregation, rather like that of Woodgrange Methodist church (see here), would like to demolish the church and replace it with a more modern building and around 30 flats.  The proposal is that all of the flats should be for local "key workers" (teachers, nurses, police etc), be managed by a housing association, with nomination rights in the hands of Newham Council.

The consultation is the second of three that will be held about the development. The church is in discussion with the Council's planners over the possibilities the site offers. Once these are firmed up into more concrete proposals, the third and final stage of the consultation process will be held - next year.

The hope is that with the maximum goodwill and co-operation, the building process could be completed within three years.

The congregation want a modern fit-for-purpose building for their various activities. The present church, however, is host to a number of important historic and artistic artifacts, that the church is keen to preserve.

These include the large, dominating, triptych windows that feature in some of the illustrations, below. This was created by Paul Woodroffe, a prominent Arts and Crafts movement ecclesiastical window designer, with works in St John's cathedral, New York.

There a are a number of other, less artistically significant side stained glass widows, which have a local historic importance, being memorials to significant parishioners In addition to the familiar WW1 war memorial plaque, there are two much rarer stone plaques listing all the members of the parish who fought in WW1.

The church also features some interesting and quite rare examples of Arts and Crafts movement ceramic tiles.

The current congregation of the church, quite frankly, has little interest in these features, but the Diocese is anxious to save and preserve them in whichever way seems most appropriate. They have officers and contractors dedicated to the preservation of these items, and are sometimes able to lever external money in order to help with their preservation.

They have committed to work with a small group of local social and art historians to determine what, ideally, should be saved and where and how it should be preserved.  If you have a genuine interest in helping with this endeavour, please contact this blog's administrator at: info@E7-NowAndThen.org, and we will ensure that you are consulted in the process.


All Saints in 1909













3 comments:

  1. Please could you e-mail me a copy of the "familiar WW1 war memorial plaque" and "two much rarer stone plaques listing all the members of the parish who fought in WW1". I am seeking a family member that may be present on these. Unfortunately I can not enlarge the photos of the stone plaques above to be clear enough to decipher. Many thanks P.Cook

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  2. I became 1/2 time parish priest at All Saints in 1983 and quickly realised that the building marked a boundary inter E7 and E12 divided by the railway line. The population was 2,500.I displayed an ACUPA parish audit in the church 3 years later and was convinced that the close co-operation developed with St Edmunds should be formalised. The congregation continued to grow and became reportedly among the most culturally and racially balanced and diverse congregation in the the Archdeaconry. There was neither vision nor will for this at Pastoral Committee. I got wind of a draft plan for Newham north church buildings via a Borough Surveyor and a LBN Planning Chair. A proposal to offer All Saints to the Greek Orthodox church then using a St Edmund's mission (further south) releasing this for sale to fund redevelopment of St Edmund's. It went public to the dismay of All Ss congregants but fell away when Greek shipping magnates couldn't fund the purchase of its purchase. Morale had to be restored and I became whole-time. I commissioned a Social & Community Research which yield minimal value and displayed in the church an ACUPA pastoral audit of the parish area illustrating the mismatch of our plant with its locale.
    In 1989, a Group Ministry of Emmanuel, St Marks, All Ss and St Edmund's was proposed and agreed, each PP becoming a freehold vicar with a Group Council
    of congregational delegates. Within months of its inception, Fr Anderosn of St Edmund's accepted preferment to Plaistow. Gerry Reilly of Emmanuel has been curate in charge under Martin Wallace (Borough Dean) of St Mark's.
    All Saints felt 'out on a limb' with no prospect of a union of benefices with St Edmund's, yet another 'kairos' moment which was discounted. After 8 years, despite + Roger Sainsbury's enthusiasm, I hope that a qualified successor might eventuate. Sadly for all involved this proved not to be so.
    The Group Ministry was soon dissolved and All Saints declined. I returned in April 2010 for the Funeral Sung Requiem of a doughty saint, Beryl Jones,
    in a full church. Either side of me at the High Altar were a priest respectively from Lahore Diocese and Sierra Leone. A memorable pan-Anglican
    concelebration for a Jamaican-born congregant.
    I was given 6 x A5 photo albums of church activities, outings, holiday playschemes, the church interior on Palm Sunday and outdoor procession. A treasury of the years up to May 1991. I'll be happy to pass them on.

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