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History Page 3

In the Victorian era there were pews in every aisle in the Church, and rents were paid for them, except for the Charity Pews in the Nave. These latter were removed in the early part of the 19th century. More pews were removed in 1966 from the North and South Chancel Aisles, as well as the South Aisle. In 2000 all the pews (except the churchwardens') were removed and replaced with chairs. The South Chancel Aisle was formed into St. Thomas' Chapel, to recall the name of the parish that was united with West Ham in the 1961 Deanery Reorganization.

The 1922 Royal Survey of Ancient Monuments described the Tower as "much perished". This was rectified fifty-six years later when it was completely restored together with new Great West Doors, and the whole of the outside pointing of the Church was seen to. The roofs' tiling, including the Long Porch, have also been renewed or re-laid.

The peal of ten bells were removed in 1978 from their wooden frame, decayed in parts, and were recast and rehung in a metal frame by Taylors of Loughborough. At the same time it was found necessary to replace the two floors in the Ringing and Bell Chambers. Big Ben at Westminster is well-known. It is said that its prototype, designed by Lord Grimthorpe, and made by Dents in 1857 is in our Tower.

Redevelopment for a new century

The next major alteration began in 2000 with a plan to re-order the interior and build a new community centre in place of the old vestries. New underfloor heating was installed and all the pews were removed, a new york stone floor and the eventual partitioning of the North and South side west arcades will make for a much more flexible building. This major project was delayed following the discovery of a major roof fault. The roof has been repaired and re-tiled and should serve the church well for future generations. Once the full project is complete it is hoped that the church will be open and serving its community seven days a week.

The Church Monuments indicate the social standing of some of the past inhabitants of West Ham. Amongst them are two former Lord Mayors of London-Sir Thomas Foot, first Lord Mayor of Cromwell's Commonwealth (1649), and Sir Robert Smyth (1684). A large landowner in the nineteenth century was Sir John Pelly-a Governor of the Bank of England. Other interesting monuments are those of James Cooper, whose benefactions included the almshouses, originally sited off Church Street Passage and rebuilt in 1936 in Gift Lane. Mention must also be made of the Fawcit and Buckeridge Memorials in St. Thomas' Chapel; the Faldos in the Sanctuary; the altar-tomb presently in St Thomas' Chapel, with three crests indicating the See of Canterbury, St. Thomas and the Brewers Company, and in the Purbeck Marble top an indent of a man with two wives. Near the entrance to the Bridal Porch is the memorial to Nicholas Avenant (1599) whose benefactions still continue to benefit the Church. A brass dated 1592 to Thomas Staples and his four wives has disappeared. The font dated 1707 bears the names of three Churchwardens.

This number still pertains and recalls the division of the ancient ecclesiastical parish into three Wards, Stratford, Church Street and Plaistow. The original duties of Churchwardens were passed to the Overseers and from them to the Local Government Board and to the County Borough of West Ham and as now, to the London Borough of Newham.

Copyright © 2005 All Saints West Ham. All rights reserved.