The Early History of All Saints’

The Early History of All Saints’ Church, South Wimbledon, or “New Wimbledon”, as it was originally called was born in the wake of the railways, better communications and the influx of tradesmen of all kinds – bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers – who arrived in their hundreds, escaping from the congested inner suburbs, or rural areas suffering from the economic slump. Nevertheless wages were low and there ensued inevitable poverty and hardship, especially when work was scarce and the weather harsh. In such circumstances the Church tended to be the initial refuge, and by 1859 the first mission “below the hill” had been established. The inaugural service was conducted by the Rev. J. Halcombe in a small room off Haydons Lane. One year later, provision for a larger church was heralded by the purchase of a plot of land on the Broadway by his successor – Rev. William Bartlett. This 28 year-old man, fresh from his first parish in Winchester, established both church and vicarage on the site where now stands the Parish Church of Holy Trinity.   From here he ministered to the poor and destitute, reserving a special affection for the children, for whom he supported an infant’s school, Sunday School, Night School for Youths and a new school that he opened for ninety boys and girls in South Road – latterly to be named “All Saints’ Primary”.

Throughout the “eighties” and beyond, building continued apace. Blocks of houses off Haydons Lane were under construction to house working-class families – Deburgh Road in the 1870’s – Dryden Road in the 1890’s. By 1881 the population of Wimbledon had grown to 15,949, of whom some 8,000 lived in South Wimbledon – an increase of some 800% within the space of twenty years! The Church had to expand to meet the needs of the people. Although – according to census returns – perhaps only a third attended church on a regular basis, this was not the whole story. Many regarded the morality taught by the Christian Church as the true safeguard of character, others wanted their children to grow up as honourable and moral beings, some saw marriage as a liturgical occasion, the bereaved wished that their dead might be buried with affection and hope, whereas many more simply felt the need to worship God and the Church offered them the way.

Map showing the rapid expansion of housing at the end of the 19th.C

By the early 1880’s the idea that this rapidly expanding area required a new church to minister to the needs of a growing population was beginning to take hold. Previously, regular Sunday worshippers had gathered at the All Saints’ Mission Station – referred to as “All Saints’, Haydons Lane” – which held service every Sunday evening in the All Saints’ Schools. The congregation was a thriving and enthusiastic one, evident from this description of the 1881 Harvest Festival: – “Miss Whittuck, the Misses Botting, Verges, Hicks, Adshead and Tee and Mr.Rackliffe had decorated the school in a very tasteful manner. Over the Communion was the text ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’, and on the table was a cross on either side of which were French grasses, and two miniature sheaves of wheat, while above hung some bunches of Japan Corn, brought especially from Herne Bay.” However, this represented but a small portion of the extent to which this illustrious band had gone to in their adornment of the school. On either side of the Communion Table they had amassed loaves of bread, a variety of apples and vegetable marrows.   Even the gas jets had not escaped their attentions for they were entwined with ivy, touched here and there with flowers. The description continues: – “On the walls handsome banners were suspended, with here and there some bunches of grapes, while upon the right side of the building the text – ‘Come Unto Me Ye Weary’, was no less attractive than appropriate”.  The worship complemented the decor. A voluntary choir, under the direction of Mr. Stone, led a large and enthusiastic congregation in a “fully intoned” service. However, sterner stuff was delivered by Dr. Parsons in an address on the temporal and eternal harvests. They should all, he said, be prepared for the last great harvest when they would be judged, and the wicked separated, like tares, from the good. By all accounts a sermon in the true Victorian fashion.

The Harvest Festival of 1881 chanced to coincide with a much less happy circumstance, this being the funeral of Edward Thurston Holland, who had died suddenly the previous week. He had been a Chancery Barrister by profession, but throughout his life this warm-hearted and sympathetic man had demonstrated wide compassion on behalf of his poorer brethren. The news of his death caused consternation amongst the congregation at All Saints’ for he was well known to all of them, and to most a personal friend. Much of his work had centred on the establishment and promotion of the South Wimbledon Church Extension Fund under whose auspices the course had been set for the building of a new church to serve this rapidly expanding area. The congregation gathered in the school that autumn would have prayed diligently that his work might continue.

They need not have feared. Acquisition of land for a new building began in earnest about one and a half years later when, on 14th. June 1883, two plots of land in Hubert Road were conveyed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

Plots of land acquired 1893

Sited mid-way between Haydons Lane and Norman Road they measured 40′.0″ * 99′.11″. Originally owned by one Joseph Peter Draper, who had purchased them in December 1865 from the British Land Company, they now changed hands for £360. The adjoining plots, no’s 139-142, were also purchased on or about the same date from Samuel John Tracey of Alverstoke, Hampshire. These measured in total 59′.9″ * 103′.3″ and, together with the above, formed a corner site between Norman and Hubert Roads comprising some one thousand one hundred and twenty-nine square yards – “little more or less” as the deed states! The intended use of the site was clearly spelt out in the conveyance documents as being “for the building and promoting the building of additional churches in populous parishes and to be appropriated as and for a Site for an intended new church to be called All Saints’ Church, South Wimbledon with surrounding yard and enclosure thereto and to be devoted, when consecrated to ecclesiastical purposes for ever.”

By 1885 the congregation of the little mission could anticipate dreams becoming reality. In December of that year an article appeared in the “Builder”, describing in detail the siting and design of the proposed new church. It was to be built, in their words, on a good corner site in Haydons Lane, South Wimbledon. The article continues: – “The design of the church has been ruled by the conditions under which it is to be built. The site is broad and, in a neighbourhood the population of which is increasing quickly, it is necessary to make the most of it. But only part of the site is now available for building on, and the large church is not yet wanted, and its cost is more than those who have undertaken the work are able to spend now. It is intended to be built in three parts; and these are arranged so that the temporary work may be as little as possible, and that, at each stage of the building, it may appear as seemly, and, so far as it goes, a complete church inside, and outside may always show permanent fronts towards two roads.”

All Saints’ as illustrated in ‘The Builder’ magazine
Floor plan of the church

The completed church was to be 120′.6″ long, 71′ wide and roofed in three spans. Seating was to comprise both of chairs and pews to a total capacity of 830. Building was to commence with the north aisle only, with a small temporary aisle being built at the east end to form a vestry and organ chamber. An existing chapel was to serve initially as the chancel, and the sizing had been so arranged that the choir stalls could be set up and used there, before final installation in the completed church. The arrangements described thus were to make a convenient church for 250 people at a cost of approximately £3,500. Messrs. Somers Clarke and J.T. Micklethwaite were appointed architects. The only further requirement was finance.

Let there be no doubt that many generous benefactors emerged in support of the new church and of these we shall learn more later. But much of the money was raised, as it is so often today, by the enterprise and zeal of the regular congregation. The events may have been different, but the aims were the same – the realisation of an intent. No “coffee mornings” or “bring-and-buys” in 19th.C Wimbledon, but recitals, “magic lantern shows” and dramatic performances such as the one given at the Drill Hall on April 18th. 1887 by Madame Susanna Cole – the programme for which included the farcical opera “Bustle’s Bride”, the Garden Scene from Faust and Offenbach’s operetta, “Rose of St.Fleur”. Occasions such as these not only fulfilled their primary purpose in raising money, but also promoted the social life of the parish. Together in worship, work and recreation was the order of the day.

The First Church

On 11th. June 1887 – some eighteen months after the building plans had been published – the Vicar of Holy Trinity, Reverend C.P.Clarke. M.A., declared that he had that afternoon received an offer from somebody to order a temporary church at Haydons Lane. It was further cause for celebration in a year already marked by the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and brought with it the realisation of so many hopes in this little corner of South Wimbledon.

It would be wrong to imagine however, that the announcement was greeted with universal enthusiasm. As long ago as 1884, when the idea of a temporary church was first suggested, there were rumblings of discontent. Charles Burney, writing to Rev. Pickering Clarke in December of that year, expressed his personal concern. He considered that the erection of such a structure would defer the building of a permanent church indefinitely and also hinted that such a move would constitute a misappropriation of funds. He wrote: – “has all Sir Henry Peek’s donation of £500 (which was certainly given for a PERMANENT church) been spent, and is there not still a portion of a special donation of Mr. Murray unpaid?”   His letter continued by begging the question as to whether the donor of an iron church would give as much again towards the provision of a permanent building, and further expressed his doubts as to the likelihood of any building at all taking place whilst such a structure occupied the site.

Fortunately, such episodes proved the exception and, in the absence of further hindrance, the way was open for a temporary building, in the form of an iron church, to be placed on site in 1887. Although originally an anonymous donation, it now transpired that the benefactor was Robert Bloomfield Fenwick who had given the church on condition that a new District should be formed out of the Ecclesiastical District of Holy Trinity, South Wimbledon. Clearly this required the assent of those affected – namely the Incumbent of Holy Trinity, the Vicar of Wimbledon and, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the Dean and Chapter of Worcester. There being no objections from these parties, the Bishop of the Diocese undertook that, subject to the usual conditions, the Rochester Diocesan Society would pay the stipend of a Missionary Clergyman. (One should note that, prior to the formation of the Southwark Diocese in 1905, South Wimbledon came under the see of Rochester)

So what of the building that first occupied the corner site between Norman and Hubert Roads? Iron structures of many types were not uncommon at the time and firms produced catalogues describing and illustrating their products in detail. By way of an example, the Norwich firm of Boulton and Paul in their 1888 catalogue under the heading, “Portable Iron Buildings”, list as no.300:- “A Chapel of Ease – Mission Room or Schoolroom”. 

A typical Iron Church of the period

This was quite elaborate and could be assembled in a variety of different ways to suit particular needs. It came in different widths, lined or unlined, and with or without flooring, enabling one to budget accordingly. It was sold, not as a complete building, but by the foot and the price list makes interesting reading, especially when compared with the building costs of today. There are similarities in construction and design which suggest that the edifice erected in 1887 came originally from this particular manufacturer, but, regardless of its constructional origins, it was already second-hand when it arrived in South Wimbledon, having served a similar purpose at S.Alban’s, Streatham Park. The cost of construction and subsequent alteration totalled about £700 and, together with the cost of the land – an expense that had been borne by Alfred Markby and Mr.Fenwick – the total expenditure incurred was just in excess of £1000.

The church had to be erected on a substantial concrete base, for current regulations required that the foundations of any building, temporary or otherwise, had to be of sufficient scale to support it for many years. On top of this had to be laid several courses of bricks, there were drainage and inspection chambers to be provided, along with adequate ventilation shafts and all that the “modern hygiene” regulations required. Once constructed, the church was to house about 300 people and, as soon as circumstances permitted, to form a temporary chancel as the permanent church took shape around it.

At this juncture it might be appropriate to say something about Robert Bloomfield Fenwick, one of the first and greatest benefactors of All Saints’. He was born in 1835 at Wonard Rectory, County Wexford, and became a ship owner by profession. By 1867 he had moved to Wandle Bank House where he lived for twenty-eight years with his wife Alice and daughters, Dora and Harriet. Alice was the daughter of Harry Pollard Ashby, himself an earnest churchman, benefactor of All Saints’ and member of the Local Board. As a family they lived comfortably. The household maintained a cook, servant and housemaid in 1891, and no doubt they nurtured good connections both locally and in town. During the years 1889-1895, Fenwick was an Alderman of the Surrey County Council, a Justice of the Peace and founder of the Hubert Road Institute which, despite a chequered and somewhat metamorphic past, still stands opposite the east end of All Saints’, tastefully converted into flats, but alas no longer serving the purpose for which it was originally intended. Robert Fenwick was well liked in Wimbledon and, in common with many gentlemen of the time, supported a myriad of worthwhile causes. For many years Holy Trinity was the sphere of his work – indeed the church was not complete when he became precentor and choirmaster. However, when a separate district was formed for All Saints’, he spared no effort to accomplish what had been a great wish of his life – a permanent church in the Haydons Lane district. In due course he became the first warden of All Saints’ and remained so until his departure from the area in 1895. He died in 1897at Great Bardfield, Essex, aged 61

With a building promised and a site acquired, the next logical step was the selection of a clergyman to serve the new mission. The Bishop’s appointee, announced in June 1887, was the Reverend Arthur Milner Pickering M.A. (Cantab), previously curate of the Church of the Ascension, Balham Hill. Three months later, on 25th. September 1887 (Trinity XVI), the new church was officially opened.

Rev. Arthur Milner Pickering

At “8 o’clock in the forenoon” the Vicar of Holy Trinity presided at the first service, and preached the inaugural sermon at 11.00. Not surprisingly all the services on that day were well attended, even to the extent that, certainly in the evening, when the new Mission Priest preached for the first time, it proved difficult to seat the intending congregation. The service ended, the new Missionary Clergyman officially began his work in the District that was then named ALL SAINTS’, SOUTH WIMBLEDON. His stipend was to be in the region of £200 per annum!

The next five years were to witness rapid growth in the parish and a consequential increase in the demands made on both priest and people.   If progress on the construction of a permanent church was to continue unhindered, then clearly an on-going programme of fund-raising was imperative. Such work befell the regular congregation and devoted supporters of the church.   The spiritual and temporal needs of a fast-expanding population would occupy much of the new priest’s time.

Services soon settled down to a regular pattern with daily Matins at 7.30.a.m. and Holy Communion each Sunday at 8.00.a.m. Once a month there was an additional Sunday celebration of the Eucharist at midday. Certainly in those early years the services were well attended and, by October, when the first Harvest Festival was held in the iron church, not everyone who wished managed to gain admission, even though extra seating had been provided.

Temporary and unsuitable though it may have been, there is no reason to suppose that the people of All Saints’ did not regard their iron church with the same affection that we hold for the permanent church today. From the outset, there were many people wishing to endow the church with various gifts. In 1888 a chalice, paten and other vessels for the administration of the Holy Communion were given by Miss Mary Ann Whittal. She was a devout Christian who had been in the service of Harry Pollard Ashby for 44 years, until her death on 25th April of that year. Her gift still exists, complete with its original box and brass plaque. Her employer, Mr.Ashby, gave a gift of his own at that time in the form of a small portable font. This too still exists, though for many years has lurked at the back of the church safe doubling as a convenient receptacle for small change – people no doubt unaware of its true purpose.

For the new church it was a good beginning, but it would be wrong to assume that all was plain sailing. Christmas 1887 brought with it the first recorded controversy. This concerned the allocation of the “Christmas Gifts” that were, it appears, traditionally distributed to the poor and needy of the parish. A correspondent, signing himself “Tommy”, wrote to the local paper on December 22nd. In his letter he suggested that the “tradespeople” had got the beef that he thought was for the poor, and not for those “that can afford to keep two horses and can lie in bed until 9 o’clock in the morning.” He goes on:- “Is the Vicar afraid to go into Berkley Road or the Wandle Road. I don’t think that there are any cases of fever now, but there are there three families, consisting of fifteen people, I know living in one house, the reason for which being that the husbands are out of work, and they are simply obliged to live like pigs to save expense. Could not something be done for these poor creatures, or what will become of them?” A reply appeared in January, signed “Dicky”, but the true identity of the writer will probably remain for ever a mystery. In his letter he seeks to answer the criticisms of the equally mysterious “Tommy”. He believes him to have been misinformed, asserting that the Vicar of the parish is quite prepared to meet him at All Saints’ vestry any day at 12 o’clock, and accompany him to Berkley and Wandle Roads to relieve some of the poor creatures. He also claims that the two roads in question did, in fact, receive the greater part of the “Christmas Gifts” and concludes thus:- “In wishing Tommy a Happy New Year, I hope for the future he will always stick to the truth. I remain yours respectfully, Dicky.”

Whatever the accuracy of the story, it gives valuable insight into the quality of life pertaining to the poor of the parish in those early years. Many must have suffered abject poverty, overcrowding and hardship. They lived under the constant threat of illness and epidemic that so often struck amongst the young, many of whom died in infancy. Such tragedy was to strike at the very heart of All Saints’ some eighteen months later when the infant son of their priest died, aged one year and eight months. Writing in the parish magazine, Reverend Pickering says:- “The pain of separation, the loss of his visible presence is always great, but if we recognise a Father’s love, ruling the affairs of men, we shall find peace and satisfaction by the thought that, having fulfilled his mission amongst us here, our darling has gone to perform another mission for our Saviour in Paradise. God loves a cheerful giver in this as in other things.”

The Permanent Church

An early Church Magazine cover give a good indication of how the finished church might have looked – note the candelabra!

All Saints’ Day, Saturday November 1st. 1890 was, in the words of Archdeacon Burney, to be an epoch in the life of their church. They had, he said, reached the point where they were about to commence heartily and in a good spirit, the building of the permanent church, and they might be assured that, to work begun in good spirit, God would give a good ending. He said that the building in which they had worshipped these four years was endeared to them by many recollections, but now there was a great work before them, and such as would require great personal sacrifice. . He realised that many could give but a little, yet each could take their part, and the church would be dearer to all if they contributed something towards its building. They should remember that there would be a greater prospect of outside help if it was seen that they themselves were doing their utmost. He continued by pointing out that the church was not to be for them alone. As they had inherited, entered into the labours, shared the generosity and partaken of the liberality of those who had gone before, so they should now strive manfully to help with this church, to the glory of God and the good of the people who were to come after.   The task, he said, should be the subject of their daily prayers. They should pray, and pray earnestly, that God’s blessing be upon the work.

Two months later, as 1890 passed into history and another new year dawned, so All Saints’ was quick to address its strategy for the coming months. The year was merely three days old when, swept along on the tide of New Year resolutions, the congregation determined to raise by Easter Day a substantial sum towards the fund for providing a new building. Certainly their determination was further strengthened by the Bishop of Rochester who wrote at the time in full support of the appeal for a larger church, saying that the District was now sufficiently matured to require a new building. He regarded the scheme, the cost of which was expected to reach about £6,000, as one that should invite both cordial and liberal support.

The Bishop’s words fell on responsive ears, for support came from within and without the parish. The Westminster Chapter Estates gave £100 and a further £800 was given to complete the purchase of two cottages adjoining the site. These were conveyed to the Ecclesiastical Commission for England in the names of Alfred Markby and Robert Bloomfield Fenwick. On 11th. July 1891 matters were advanced enough for an announcement to be made to the effect that Messrs. Adamson (Builders) of Putney, had been contracted to build the north aisle of the new church at a cost of £1835. On S. James’ Day, 25th. July, the Foundation Stone of the permanent church was laid by Robert Bloomfield Fenwick. The ceremony was witnessed by a great gathering of the local populace and was preceded by a special service in the iron church at the conclusion of which, and to the strains of “Christ is our Corner Stone”, a procession, led by Mr. Fenwick, the choir and clergy, made its way to the appropriate location. Here a large hole had been dug and into this, with as much dignity as he could muster, descended Mr. Fenwick to declare the stone “well and truly laid, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” The stone has never since seen the light of day for it lies deep under the altar in the S. Michael Chapel, thereby fulfilling its epithet as the first stone laid in the foundation, and also the wish of Mr. Fenwick that there be no inscription to record the event.

By All Saints’ Tide 1891, construction was well under way. At the Annual Social Gathering , Reverend Pickering declined to report on the state of the building for, as he said, “They could take a walk down the Norman or Hubert Roads and see for themselves the progress of a substantial building in which the best of bricks and mortar were being used.”  The permanent building was indeed fast encircling the little iron church of which they had grown so fond. When completed, the Vicar declared it would be “a church for the rich, for the poor, and indeed for all, as each and all had subscribed as they were able.”  Generous donations had ensured that the amount of the first contract had already been paid, and they had subsequently entered on a further contract of £1,300. Mr. Fenwick, referring somewhat light-heartedly to this sum, declared it to represent a “mere trifle” that they should easily manage to pay off between then and Easter! Reverend Pickering, swept along in the euphoria, made reference to the boy of Pears Soap repute in declaring that, “Unlike that boy, who would be satisfied when he got it, he was never satisfied, and he hoped that a little more would be added to the permanent building than was first intended.” This hope was echoed by Mr. Fenwick who inferred that, although the original intention had been to complete the nave, north aisle and walls, it was anticipated that the south aisle and vestries should be finished at no very distant date, provided they all laboured steadfastly and unitedly in faith and hope.

1892 was THE year for All Saints’, but it began tragically with the death, on January 19th, of Alfred Markby. Other than the fact that he was resident in Copse Hill and the senior partner of “Markby, Wilde and Johnson” (Solicitors of 9, Lincoln’s Inn), we know very little of his life outside of the work that he did for All Saints’. He was one-time treasurer of the South Wimbledon Church Extension Fund and clearly one who gave generously, both of time and money, to All Saints’ in its formative years. His influence and importance in Wimbledon were likely to have been prodigious for his memorial, which comprises the east end of the north aisle of All Saints’, bears a list of subscribers that reads like a “Who’s Who” of Wimbledon in the 1890’s. Amongst the signatories we find Lady Bazaglette (the wife of London’s Chief Engineer), John Murray (the Publisher), Sir Henry Peek (M.P. for Surrey), Francis Penrose (Surveyor of the Fabric of S. Paul’s Cathedral), Sir William Preece (Chief Engineer of the Post Office and author of books on the new telephone – his house was the first in the area to have electric light), and a wide and varied selection of local businessmen and clergy. The illuminated scroll on which their names are recorded speaks thus of Alfred Markby:- “One of the first to realise the needs of this church, he was also one of its most zealous supporters, and both by his wise counsel and by his liberality contributed largely to the success of the work.” His greatest tragedy was that he did not live to see the work completed and share in its Consecration. Nor, unfortunately, did John Murray, another of the church’s earliest benefactors, and head of the publishing firm bearing his name. He died in April 1892, barely one month before the Consecration. Ironically, the publication of his will in the local press lies in the adjoining column to that describing the Consecration of All Saints’, South Wimbledon, which finally took place on the afternoon of May 7th. 1892.

By then, the eastern bay, nave and north aisle of the permanent church were completed. The altar, previously in use in the iron church, had been removed to the left of the chancel that it might be used for early celebrations and week day services. Choir and clergy vestries were provided for by temporary conversion of the church house. There were handsome purple cloths and hangings at both altars, supplied by Morris’ Works at Merton, and the taste and ability of the architects reflected greatly in the completed works and marble altar ledges. The building was described as being of the “English Gothic Style”, constructed in red brick with Doulting Stone Dressings, plastered inside, and promised to be, when finished, one of the most modern and substantial edifices in the neighbourhood.

Additional gifts by this time were considerable and included altar cloths, prayer and hymn books and, of necessity, a number of new chairs – for the church was designed to seat some 520 people. These seats were to be “free and open” for ever and there was to be an entire absence of seat monopoly in order that no-one should be discouraged from attendance. There was still much needed however, such that “liberally disposed persons need not rest on their oars for want of good objects on which to devote their money.” Indeed, all the temporary furniture had been painted green to indicate its temporary status, including the chancel rails, choir stalls, screen and pulpit, all of which were designated for replacement in oak. In subsequent years much was replaced, both by gift and subscription, but, as late as 1951, money was still being sought to finance the removal of green paint from the choir stalls that they might be restored to a natural wood finish and thus blend in better with the existing furniture.

The small organ had been replaced by a fine instrument in a modern case, built by Henry Jones and Son of South Kensington. This was, and still is, noted for its powerful and varied tones, with “sweet solo stops”, and a “grand effect” when used for choral purposes. It was blown not, of course, by electricity, but by the committed endeavours of human effort. Carved initials on the organ case are testimony to idle moments between hymns, but there would have been few of these on May 7th. Picture, if you will, a rosy-cheeked youth, lustily pumping away to furnish the means by which the “grand effect” might be heard to herald the arrival of the Bishop.

The Right Reverend Father in God, Randall Thomas Davidson, Bishop of Rochester, arrived at the church about 4.00.p.m. on an un-seasonal May Day that had been preceded by record snow fall throughout Surrey. But nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the very large congregation that awaited his entrance. The Instruments of Conveyance were read by the Registrar at the west door and, as the choir sang “The Church’s One Foundation”, the procession made its way down the centre aisle to the altar where, after the chanting of Psalm 24, the Bishop signed the conveyance and ordered it to be enrolled and preserved amongst the muniments in the Registry.

Front page of the Consecration Service

If however, the church was to last, it had first to be finished.  As the weeks following the consecration passed, the life of the parish began again in earnest. The offertories over the festival weekend had amounted to £130, in addition to which, several gifts had been made to the church. There was a new brass cross and candlesticks – the gift of Katherine Forbes. Three bells, costing £94, were given by Reverend Brancker. These were hung in the west tower and rung for the first time on Christmas Eve 1892. A prayer desk and oak lectern, in memory of Sarae Stahlschmidt and Johannis Lett Stahlschmidt respectively, were placed in the church, and probably many other unspecified articles were bequeathed by the faithful. A new Communicants Guild for men had been formed as early as the Tuesday following the consecration and, on Sunday 15th May, the first four infants were baptised in the new church – Annette Davy, the daughter of a baker, William Henry Hayter, the son of a railway porter, Winifred Gertrude Randall, the daughter of a traveller and Ernest Stanley Harris, the son of a police constable.   The first wedding, on September 3rd., was that of Isabella Stone to Angustine Reginald Crossman – the father of the bride being Lewis Reuben Stone, Schoolmaster of the parish.

On August 12th., a print of the London Gazette was sent to Reverend Pickering in which was contained a copy of an Order of Her Majesty in Council assigning a District Chapelry to All Saints’ – the genesis of the parish was complete. By 1895 the extent of the building was much as you see it today. The floor was not yet completed and the projected South Aisle was destined to remain unbuilt, but the building now attracted insurance valuations of £7,000 for the fabric, £650 for the windows, £450 for the screen and £250 for the furniture, all covered for an annual premium of £6 2s. 3d. at the London Liverpool Globe Office, policy no.5542239! By February the builders had all but gone, the floor was finished and the iron church dismantled prior to removal. In March 1895 Pickering wrote:- “the iron church, so dear to many of us, has been removed. Temporary as we knew the structure to be, the associations of this building have been most helpful and we hope it may be blessed amongst the people where it has gone. A new Mission District maintained, like our own, by the Rochester Diocesan Society, has been recently formed on the Leigham Court Estate at Streatham, and there our iron church has been erected.”  The church in fact went to S.Margaret’s, Streatham having been sold, complete with fittings, for £100. A few parishioners visited the church in its new location, no doubt touched by nostalgia, but the future of All Saints’ lay firmly in the new church and its congregation – much as it still does today.

All Saints’ Church today
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