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History Page 4

The responsibilities of Churchwardens are now confined to the Church and its own properties.


The boundary of the ancient parish became that of the County Borough of West Ham. As the population increased, so did the number of parishes, carved out of the original parish boundary. At its peak, there were twenty-eight Church of England parish churches serving the vast population of 330,000 in1936. Following the decline in population caused by the war of 1939-1945, the numbers decreased to about 160,000 and the parishes to twelve.
In Education, the Church pioneered-with a Parish School for boys in 1723. The Voluntary Controlled Primary School in Portway is in direct descent, opened in 1964 by Mr. Douglas Gurney Pelly, a great great grandson of Sir John Pelly. Girls were not forgotten. Sarah Bonnell founded her school adjacent to the boys' school in the Churchyard in about 1777. In its history, this school has used different buildings in the area and is now the Sarah Bonnell Comprehensive School for Girls in Deanery Road, Stratford.
Pioneers and Patronage

The patronage of the benefice has, since the Reformation, belonged to the Crown. There are two Royal Coats of Arms in the Church, one on the Chancel Arch beam of George II and the other of William IV over the Vestry doorway. The Church Records date from 1653, when under Cromwell's Commonwealth, the Church was called "The Meeting Place". No burials have taken place in the Churchyard since 1854, and most of the railings around it were removed for the war effort in 1940.

The list of the Vicars dates from 1334. Amongst them was Thomas Rose in 1551 and again in 1558. He was deprived of his living in Queen Mary's reign for his espousal of the Protestant cause and especially for his encouragement of the 13 Protestant martyrs burnt at the Stake in Stratford (their monument is in the Churchyard of St. John's Church, Stratford), and was reinstated by Queen Elizabeth I.

The Vicarage has moved within the Parish from its original site in Vicarage Lane to Portway in 1856, to Vicar's Close in 1936 and to Devenay Road in 1979.



NB: Most of the church's archives have been deposited at Essex Records Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford CM2 6YT, (Tel: 01245 244644). The only archives we have at the church are Baptism registers dating from 1983 and Marriage registers dating from 1981.

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