Tag Archives: Holy Trinity – Glenton Road

The Original Church of the Good Shepherd, Lee – ‘Lost’ in the Blitz

Historically, the Parish Church of St Margaret,  Lee was relatively small one serving three small population centres – the area around the church itself on what is now called Lee Terrace, around Lee Green and the large houses of Old Road such as Lee Place, the Manor House, The Firs and Pentland House.

The coming of the railways saw the population grow and the ecclesiastical parish of St Margaret was divided several times to form the parishes of Christ Church (Lee Park) in 1854, Holy Trinity (Glenton Road) in 1863 and St Mildred’s on the eponymous Road in 1872.  The first two of these have already been ‘visited’ by Running Past and were both lost as a result of World War Two bombs – the churches were partially destroyed, later demolished and not replaced – their parishes being subsumed back into that of St Margaret.

The fourth subdivision was the creation of The Church of the Good Shepherd in 1881 (see above – source eBay October 2016). Much of the initial funding apparently came from Lord Northbrook, still owner of the Manor House at that point but hadn’t lived there for some time.  Initially it was to be a chapel of ease rather than a parish in its own right, the Rector of St Margaret’s, Reverend F H Law announced at the beginning of 1881

The Chapel-of-Ease, then, to the Parish Church, which I purpose calling ‘The Church of the Good Shepherd,’ is to hold 550 persons, all the Sittings are to be unappropriated, so that the poor cannot be crowded out from what is more especially their own Church; and I have sufficient faith and confidence in those who will worship there, to believe that by their offerings, sufficient will be contributed, not only to provide for all necessary expenses of the Services, but also for the maintenance of at least one of the Clergy who will be especially in charge of it.

The church was designed by Ernest Newton; Newton has been featured in some detail in Running Past, in an earlier post on another local building that he designed, Lochaber Hall – formerly the church hall of Holy Trinity, Glenton Park.  Locally, he also designed the Baring Hall pub as well as St Swithun’s Church on Hither Green Lane.  Like St Swithun’s, the builders were the largely ecclesiastical Croydon firm Maides and Harper, they have been described as ‘first-class building firm’ with a reputation for high quality workmanship (photo below – source eBay September 2016).

Local Victorian historian F H Hart (who was a sidesman at St Margaret’s at the time of the consecration) described the church as a

plain, substantial structure of red brick, with tiled roof, and neat bell turret. The interior of the church has a remarkably open appearance, and light is admitted by four large semi-circular windows.

He suggested that the ‘fittings’ for the Church of the Good Shepherd church are very plain but substantial – money for them had been raised through a special offertory at St Margaret’s.

Hart also noted that in the months after the consecration that attendance at the services ‘is most encouraging, as are also the offertories.’

The church was largely ‘lost’ during  the Blitz in 1941 when it was hit by an incendiary bomb, possibly in error as that night the Luftwaffe were targeting the docks, however as the then vicar, the Reverend J B Phillips, sadly noted (1)

‘Consequently every fire-fighting appliance was directed to save our vital food supplies.  No water pump could be spared to save a building, however beloved, and it was poignant indeed for us to stand helplessly by and see the church blaze into ruins.’

While the building was damaged beyond repair the parish continued to function using the parish hall that had been built in 1892 (2), there were donations from other parishes of an altar cross, candlesticks, pews, pulpits, a font and altar frontals (3).  Some of these probably came from other churches lost in the Blitz.

 

For a while, the parish used the church hall of Holy Trinity in Manor Lane Terrace (now known as Lochaber Hall), see below, for Sunday Schools as well as providing a hall for other activities (4).

For many local churches and chapels destroyed during the war, the destruction of the physical place of worship saw the end of the parish or church community; in addition to losses of Christ Church and Holy Trinity, the Methodist church on Hither Green Lane and the Baptist chapel at the corner of Eastdown Park and Lee High Road were lost.  This was not the case with the Good Shepherd, but the parishioners had to be patient; due to post war shortages of building materials and the priority given to housing, it meant that it was to be seventeen years before it was possible to rebuild the church.

The new church was completed and re-consecrated in 1957 and in its rebuilding it was able to use foundations and some portions of the old walls, varying in height from a few brick courses up to some 2 to 3 metres on all the walls, apart from that facing Handen Road. This probably explains the more than cursory nod to the original designs of Ernest Newton, although perhaps had more work been done to the Victorian foundations there wouldn’t have been the problems with subsidence that beset the church around the Millennium.

 

 

Notes

  1. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, Lee in 1956, p11
  2. ibid p8
  3. ibid p12
  4. ibid p12

Thank you to the Reverend Shepherd of the Church of the Good Shepherd and Lewisham Archives for allowing me use the photographs of the bomb damage and temporary church (the three black and white photographs in the middle of the post) – they were part of the booklet noted above.

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Holy Trinity – The Lost Church of Glenton Road

The remains of Holy Trinity Church on Glenton Road are easy to miss.  The last remnants are a small bit of Kentish ragstone wall on what is now a Lewisham Council housing scheme – Callaghan Close – named after former Labour Prime Minister and Blackheath resident Jim Callaghan.

The growth of Lee in the 19the century following the breakup of the large estates of Lee Place and Dacre House, along with the arrival of the railway meant that the old parish of St Margaret Lee was subdivided several times with Christ Church on Lee Park, Holy Trinity on Glenton Road, St Mildred’s on the South Circular, and the Church of the Good Shepherd on Handen Road being built in 1854, 1863, 1872 and 1881 respectively.  All but St Mildred’s were to be destroyed during World War 2, the rebuilt Good Shepherd remains, but the other two parishes were subsumed back into St Margaret from whence they came.

Picture above from Wikipedia Commons – originally from Illustrated London News

The architect of Holy Trinity was William Swinden Barber FRIBA (1832 – 1908) who was described as ‘a Gothic Revival and Arts and Crafts architect, specialising in modest, fairly simple, but finely furnished Anglican churches.’

Picture Wikipedia commons

It was a fairly substantial church, built mainly of the Kentish Ragstone which survives on the boundary wall, seating 600 in the nave and a further 150 in a gallery.  There is a detailed architectural description from a short article in The Builder, where the elevation or church and vicarage below came from.

The east and west windows were of stained glass by William Wailes, who was eminent in the field.  While there are no colour pictures of them, his distinctive trademarks were ‘mauve lined with bright red, yellow lined with bright blue, red lined with acid green. Many of Wailes window contain a great deal of pink glass.’

The church was badly damaged by a bomb in 1944, while the parish operated until 1948, the church was demolished in 1960 – it is possible that the parish continued until 1948 at its church hall – now known as Lochaber Hall, more on that in a couple of weeks.  The Southwark Diocesan records suggest that it was sold to Merchant Taylors for £5,300 in 1962, although some of the other detail about the church and its location is incorrect.

Holy Trinity (picture above, Wikipedia Commons) was paid for by wealthy local developer Lewis Glenton at a cost of nearly £10,000, Glenton lived at the Pagoda House in Blackheath.  The links to the Pagoda House are obvious in the detail – the north facing terrace is referred to as Pagoda Villas and also has rather pleasant ‘masks’ over the front doors.  Amongst the other local areas developed by Glenton included Aberdeen Terrace and Kidbrooke Grove.  Holy Trinity wasn’t the only Church funded by Glenton – a few years later he was a substantial benefactor in the building of St James Kidbrooke.

Elsewhere, Glenton was also the builder for the Grand Hotel in Brighton, and, indirectly, he enabled the construction of Charlton’s ‘The Valley’ as he quarried on the site, with a railway taking sand and gravel to the nearby Thames.

The vicarage (see picture below – source) featured in the 1961 film ‘Girl on Approval’ which starred Rachel Roberts and James Maxwell – the film was mainly shot in Lewisham and the wonderful Reel Streets website includes around 30 stills from Lee and Lewisham including ones in Winns Road, Lewisham town centre and an early photograph of the entrance to Manor Park.

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