As Wanstead Parish churches prepare to take part in a covid-secure Open House weekend, Penelope Garlick invites you to share memories of Christ Church and St Mary’s, and to submit your ideas for their future
In July, we announced a £72,500 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant awarded to Wanstead Parish to plan how both St Mary’s and Christ Church can better serve the wider community. This month, an architect-led team will join the Heritage consultant supporting the parish with the project.
Consultation with groups and residents in and around the parish is now beginning to better understand what people value about the churches, what they’d like to see more of and how the churches can serve their community. This will inform a series of options for making the buildings and churchyards more accessible. The project will also seek to find how the parish can reduce their negative environmental impact and enhance environmental benefits in the buildings and through their work.
St Mary’s was built in 1790 and is a fine example of Georgian architecture; it’s also the only Grade I listed building in Redbridge. With the railway coming to Wanstead, Christ Church was built in 1861 to provide a church nearer to the new centre and received a grant of £250 from the Incorporated Society for the Building of Churches to provide free seating for 200 adults and 70 children.
Now the buildings have reopened after lockdown, we would like to hear what these churches mean to you. Do you remember a special day, maybe a wedding or a christening, or even a funeral? Do you have ancestors buried in the churchyard? Did you come to a flower festival, a concert or to watch your child in a nativity play? Is your memory of coming to a church school leaving service? Maybe you have come to the toddler group, a fair or just enjoyed the quiet of the church grounds.
Please share your memories with us via photos, words or video clips. We will include as many as possible in a small exhibition we are planning for Open House London this September at both churches.
This year, Open House London is taking place on 19 and 20 September. Both churches will be open, but to meet current requirements, visitor numbers will be limited and a one-way system will operate around the venues. Please book if you would like to come along.
The parish is also asking readers to feed back their ideas for how the buildings might be used in future as part of the first phase of community consultation. The findings will be shared with the architects to help shape their initial ideas for plans as mentioned above.