In the beginning…
Chigwell Row appeared on maps as early as 1645 and is part of the Ancient Parish of Chigwell. The name, which means ‘King’s Well’, stems from a once famous well that was near to High View on Lambourne Road.
The population of the village grew, especially in the early 1800s. A Sunday school began and in 1860 the separate Parish of Chigwell Row was formed.
The Church Building
Land that had been part of Hainault Forest was given for a church and there were soon plans for a fine, large building with a spire. The architect was J P Seddon, whose other work includes Cork Cathedral. His initial plans were too expensive and after several revisions a smaller church without tower or spire was built in 1867 at a cost of £4,000. The building is of brick with Godalming stone facing and has walls three feet thick!
The first major development after the opening of the church was the front wall built in 1895 to replace an iron fence. The Lych gate was added in 1933 in memory of several leading church benefactors.
Seddon’s original design was for a tower and spire to be an integral part of the west end of the church. Eventually, the present tower was built in 1903 alongside the church, thereby creating the baptistery. The cost was nearly £3,000! Initially six bells were installed by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry; a further two were added in 1928.
The church originally had a small East Window and a wall painting behind the Communion table.
Points of Interest
The church is built in the ‘Transitional’ style and appears much older than it is.
The central focus of the church is the Sanctuary with the Reredos, Communion Table and East Window. These three can be thought to point us to the past, present and future of our faith.
The Reredos points us to the past with some of the great saints: Christopher, Alban, Peter and John the Baptist surround the central historical figure of Jesus himself. The shields reveal our unusual heritage, having been in the Dioceses of Rochester, St. Albans and Chelmsford.
The Lord’s Table reminds us of the “once for all” Sacrifice made by Christ on the cross as we gather together in Christian Communion.
The Window gives us a picture of heaven, based on the book of Revelation, with God on the throne, the Lamb (Jesus) slain for us, surrounded with God’s people of every age worshipping under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (shown as a Dove). Here we have a glimpse of the glory that awaits all who trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
The other stained glass windows depict various scenes from the life and ministry of Jesus. They form a visual ‘Bible’ to inspire meditation and prayer for all who stop and look.
Our most interesting memorial is to a Canadian airman who is buried in the churchyard. It is in the Baptistery and takes the form of a cross made from the wooden propeller of a 1914/1918 bomber.
The pillar carvings are by Clarke & Son. Try to find the animals hidden amongst the foliage on two of the pillars!
When the separate Parish of Chigwell Row was created it included a part of the land on which the Hainault estate came to be built. Indeed, St Paul’s Church was initially a daughter church to All Saints. In 1957, a new St. Paul’s District was established which drew together parts of the three surrounding parishes of All Saints, Holy Trinity, Barkingside and The Ascension, Collier Row.
In 1994, there was a Pastoral Reorganisation that joined All Saints with St Mary’s and St Winifred’s to form the new Parish of Chigwell and Chigwell Row.
It is always interesting to look at the history of churches but we mustn’t just look backwards. Church buildings are living places, which are to serve the worshipping congregations and community of today.
In the last twenty years, improvements have been made to the decoration, lighting, heating and sound system of the church and we are constantly seeking ways of making the building a pleasant and comfortable place to worship.