Holy Trinity Church, South Woodford

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History and Brief Guide by Wilmin W. Figg

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Early History and Planning

On 14th April, 1880, a meeting of Parishioners and Congregation of Woodford Parish Church was called to consider the necessary steps to be taken for providing additional Church accommodation for the rapidly increasing population of the district.

The outcome of this meeting resulted in the Woodford Parish and Wanstead Parish forming a joint Committee to carry out the proposed scheme for a new Church, to meet the needs of both parishes.

8th June, 1880

This new District was roughly indicated as embracing the whole of the Woodford Parish on the eastern side of the railway, and that part of Wanstead which lies between Woddford Parish and a line drawn through the centre of Tavistock Road and extended east and west of the railway to new Parish boundaries. It was at this meeting that it was proposed and carried that 'a deputation wait upon the proper authorities with a view to obtaining a permanent site, either as a gift or at the lowest price from Earl Cowley, on the east of Chigwell Road'. Earl Cowley generously gave the site.

After numerous meetings it was decided that a temporary Church should be put up, with accommodation not exceeding 250/300 persons. In July, 1881, it was proposed to erect a temporary Church at an estimated cost of £400, accommodating about 300 persons, and to build the first section of the permanent Church.

It was proposed to build a Church for this new district on an acre of ground which Earl Cowley had generously given for this purpose. J. Fowler Esq., FRIBA., of Louth was commissioned as the architect. The Church when completed, would seat 1000 persons.

The Temporary Church

At a meeting of the Joint Committee on 28th July, 1881, a Resolution was proposed and carried:-

'That a subscription list be now opened for the raising of the sum of £4000 for the erection of the first section of the permanent building and the purchasing or hiring and the erection of a temporary Church'.

Permission was given by the Epping Forest Committee for a right of way over waste land between road and Church site.

After further meetings relating to the temporary Church at varying costs ranging from £350, it was reported to a meeting of the Building Committee on 9th December, 1881, that an Iron Church, 25 ft. x 60 ft. with Vestry 10 ft. x 10 ft. and gas fittings had been purchased for £92.10.0d; it having been the temporary Church of St. Michael's, Camden Road in 1879. The cost of re-erection by the original builder was £90.8.0d and this included taking down, re-erecting and adding felt to the walls and roof, Bell Hood and putting in new window at the East End. The cost of foundations was £30.0.0d

Two people agreed to purchase a Gill Stove, Choir Stalls, a Lectern and Kneeling Pile for Communicants in the Iron Church for £6.0.0d.

So the Iron Church cost:-

Purchase Price
Referees Charge

It was opened on Sunday, 5th March, 1882, and known as the Church of the Holy Trinity.

The seating was split between Free and unappropriated seats, and appropriated seats @ £1 per year. The building was insured for £400.

The Present Church

November, 1884


Original Plan
Smaller Plan
Nave Only
Nave & Chancel
Nave Aisle (without Tower & Spire)

The smaller plan was agreed upon.

In 1886 a contract with A.M.Barton of Newcastle to erect the Nave and Heating Apparatus of the permanent Church, for the sum of £4465 was signed by the Churchwardens, Vicar and other members of Committee.

On 2nd June, 1887, the Nave was consecrated by Bishop Claughton, DD, (Bishop of St. Albans - the Church then being in the Diocese of St. Albans).

14th May, 1888. - First Vestry Meeting of Holy Trinity Church.

27th September, 1890. - Chancel, North Aisle and Tower consecrated by Bishop Festing, DD, (Bishop of St. Albans).

It was decided not to go on with the completion of the Tower and Spire as it was found that the foundations would not stand the extra weight.

The Organ

The Organ was originally installed in St. Mary's, Woodford, 1817-1887, when Sir John Roberts purchased it for Holy Trinity Church for £150. At this time it was valued at £1000, and after restoration, £2000. It was overhauled again in June, 1928 at a cost of £540 and was in full use by 20th September, 1928. The Bishop of Chelmsford re-dedicated it and Mr. Roper, organist of St. Margaret's, Westminster and the Chapel Royal, gave a recital. Further restoration occurred in 1964 and the action made electric. The Organ was re-dedicated by Canon S. J. Burling on 21st November, 1964. Roger Fisher, BA., FRCO., sub-organist at Hereford Cathedral, gave a recital. The Organ is once again subject to restoration, although inflation makes the previous sums mentioned seem inconsequential!

Details of Organ
  Number of Stops Number of Pipes
Great Organ
Swell Organ
Choir Organ
Pedal Organ
Thumb Pistons
Toe Pistons
Electro-Pneumatic throughout  
Largest Pipe
16' long
Smallest Pipe
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