St John the Evangelist-in-the-East Golding Street 1869 - 1943
(formerly [Low] / [Upper / Middle / Lower] Grove Street) 

Further description of the parish area can be found here (a detailed report of 1848) and here (tracing various aspects of its history - industry, housing, criminal associations); parish registers are here.


When the Revd Joseph Marychurch Vaughan came as curate of the parish of St George-in-the-East, his main task was to establish a church in the very poor area in the northern part of the parish, with a population of about 6,000. (The Statistical Society's 1848 survey had excepted Upper and Middle [where the church was built] Grove Street as being almost wholly occupied by persons in a condition of life somewhat above that of the poor labourers who surround them, but this was probably no longer true.) Three houses in Grove Street were acquired from Mrs M.A. Harris, the leaseholder, in 1867, for a parsonage. (The mortgage was held by C.C. Druce, and the renowned locally-born secularist Charles Bradlaugh was trustee of Mrs Harris.) The church, with 500 sittings, was built on the cheap, at a cost of £3,500. The Bishop of London's Fund gave £1,500, the London Diocesan Church Building Society £300, the Incorporated Church Building Society £150 and Marshall's Charity £100; he had to find the rest. He was a freemason (a member of Royal Albert Lodge, and later of Asaph Lodge), and appealed for help in the Freemasons Magazine & Masonic Mirror of 1868:

The new district of St. John, in the parish of St George-in-the-East, is situated on the borders of the London Docks, and has a poor population of 6,000 souls. Moved by a conviction of the very urgent spiritual need of the district, the working men (the bulk of whom are dock labourers, costermongers, and seafaring men) have formed themselves into a committee, and are going literally 'from house to house,' to obtain contributions to the Church Building Fund. It may be interesting to state further, that the children in the free schools have also united to help on the work, and that there are at the present time no less than 166 contributing 1/2d. a-week, while there are other labourers in the district who are obtaining contributions that vary from 1d. to 6d. a-week. For three years the missionary clergyman has carried on his work in a school-room and from house to house; he has a Scripture-reader, a mission-woman, and a district nurse labouring with him — a free school (of which the Right Hon. the Earl of Shaftesbury is President), with 307 children on the books, and an average attendance of 117 — a lending library, containing about 400 volumes of an interesting and instructive character — a penny bank, in which last year was deposited £54 9s. by 179 depositors — a soup kitchen for giving occasional dinners to the more sickly and destitute children, and for supplying the poor of the district with nutritious food during the winter months — a mother's meeting, average attendance 30 — a sewing class three times a week for teaching the children to make articles of clothing for themselves — and penny readings, with the view of giving the working classes a pleasant and profitable evening, and to encourage in them a taste for intellectual pursuits. But while the above has been done, and these agencies for good are all in active operation, the committee feel that very much remains yet to be accomplished before the parochial system is thoroughly established among them. They are convinced that a church should be built; and that, when this is completed, they will then have secured for the 'labour of love' going on in their midst, that permanency which they so ardently desire.....

The Building and Working Men's Committees venture to make an earnest appeal to all who value the blessed privilege of a House consecrated to the service of prayer and praise, to assist them in the proposed work by contributing at least a shilling in postage stamps. Should, however, any be disposed to make a larger donation, cheques crossed "East London Bank" or Post-office Orders made payable at "Eastern District Post-office,'' Commercial-road, E. may be sent to the Incumbent designate, the Rev. J. M. Vaughan, 33, Nassau-place, Commercial-road, E. or will be thankfully acknowledged by any of the following gentlemen :— Rev. J. Cohen, M. A., Rесtor of St. Mary's, Whitechapel ; Mr. Henry Mosely, 9. St. George's-place, St. George-in-the-East; Rev. J. G. Pilkington, M.A., Clerical Secretary, Bishop of London's Fund, 46A Pall Mall; Rev. T. J. Rowsell. M.A., Chaplain to the Queen, Rector of St. Margaret's Lothbury; Rev. F. W. Russell, M.A., 35, St. Augustine-road, Camden-square, N.W.  Contributors of 5s. and upwards will be presented with photograph of the new church.

The architects were the Francis brothers Frederick John (1818-96) and Horace (1821-94), whose practice was at 38 Upper Bedford Place, Bloomsbury; Messrs Dove were the builders. The foundation stone was laid by the Bishop of London on 29 April 1868, and he consecrated the church on 12 February 1869, with the Archbishop of Canterbury present [drawing left from the Illustrated London News, 20 February 1869; ICBS plan 06719 of new church, with gallery, right]. Mr Vaughan was inducted as the first vicar.

St John's was built of stock brick, with stone dressings, and consisted of a nave and aisles of five bays, the last bay of which formed the chancel. The construction of the east window suggested that a chancel extension was envisaged, but this never happened. At the south-west was the base of a tower which should have been completed with a belfry stage and a brick spire; this too was never finished, and a single bell was hung in a wooden frame on the top of the tower.

The organ - 2 manuals, 15 speaking stops - was built by Gray and Davison in 1869, at a cost of £318. Vaughan stressed (no doubt with events at St George-in-the-East in mind) that he wanted to have a thoroughly good musical service, at the same time most carefully avoiding all extremes. See this report from the Musical Standard of 20 February 1869.


The 1878 Vestry map [left] shows the area served by the church: at that time, a mix of very poor dwellings and industrial sites, many of whose owners are identified on the map. Left is also Grove Street (looking north) in the late 19th century, and Goad's insurance map of 1899 showing the block around the church, which was surrounded by tenements to the north (Bewley and Ficklin Buildings) and small houses with workshops behind to the east and south, with a pub next door but one (the Jolly Sailor, 85 Grove Street - which had a German landlady in the 1890s). Only the south side of the church was visible. It became an increasingly Jewish area, as settlers moved east from Whitechapel - right is a 1913 tailors' workshop in Christian Street, and a shop in Ellen Street in the 1930s. More pictures here.

St John's never had its own church school. The first Board School built in the parish was in Berner Street [now Henriques Street] in 1871. Opposite, on what is now the playground of Harry Gosling School, was discovered in 1888 the body of one of Jack the Ripper's victims - see here for more details. In 1901 another Board School was built near the church in Christian Street. (This site previously housed London's tallest chimney, of Martineau's sugar refinery, which burnt down twice in the 19th century - see here for an account of this trade, including several patents registered by Gerd Bensen of Christian Street, and here for the subsequent history of the school. Opposite was a synagogue, now a mosque.)


Joseph Marychurch Vaughan was curate of the parish church (Crockford says 1865, but he had conducted weddings here throughout the previous year, signing as 'curate' from April), and first incumbent of St John's from 1869-79. He was one of nine children of a parson, Dr John Vaughan (no relation to D.J. Vaughan's family at St Mark Whitechapel) and Elizabeth Marychurch. Dr Vaughan had served in Great Yarmouth, Yorkshire and Wiltshire before becoming perpetual curate of Brixton (based at the recently-built St Matthew's church) from 1841-56, when he retired to Regent's Park - being a man of independent means. (In his last year at Brixton he was party to a curious fraud case concerning burial fees.) His son Joseph studied at Trinity Hall Cambridge and King's College London (part of the first generation who undertook specific ordination training there) and was ordained in 1859 (by letters dimissory from the Bishop of Rochester) serving his title in Shildon, county Durham and from 1860 a curacy at St James Hove. Here he assisted his brother Matthew (who had been their father's curate in Brixton, and then incumbent of St John Brixton) in the marriage of their widowed sister Decima [= child no.10!]  Another brother Mark was also ordained, as were other family members, and the women married clergy.

Two of the weddings he conducted at St George-in-the East were of Alaxander Ronald to Jane Anderson, on 18 September 1864 (for which his great-grand-niece Ann Gillespie has provided details); and ten days later, oOn 28 September, the marriage (also by licence) of a former neighbour from Edmonton Robert Vaux Zinzan to his stepmother Mary Ann Green, although they had no connection with the parish (despite giving their residence as 107 Cannon Street Road) and providing false information, declaring her to be a spinster. Zinzan's father (Robert Comport Zinzan), like his son, was a surgeon and apothecary, and had four children by his first wife, in London; she died, and the family moved to the Wiltshire village of Hindon where he married the daughter of the local publican (he was 41, she was 18); this marriage was childless. He died of 'exhaustion' in 1862, and two years later Mary became pregnant by her stepson, who sought to regularise their relationship. The marriage was challenged, on the basis of evidence provided by the parish clerk of Hindon - based on the Book of Common Prayer's Table of Kindred and Affinity, which provides that a man may not marry his father's wife [= stepmother, since the mother must have died for this to become a possibility] despite there being no blood link; it resulted in a case at the Aldermans' Court, Guildhall, with a warrant for his apprehension, though this was not executed (a report appeared in The Times of 12 December 1864). The marriage was presumably annulled, since in 1866 Zinzan married Isabella Griffith at East Knoyle parish church, and they moved to Onehunga, a suburb of Auckland in New Zealand, where in 1870 he applied for his medical qualifications to be recognised, dying nine years later of cirrhosis of the liver. In due course the family produced noted Kiwi rugby and cricket players. Louisa, the child of the forbidden relationship, became a Sister of Mercy at the (Anglican) house of St Denys Warminster, where she died in 1920. See more here.

To add to the challenge of establishing a new church in a poor district, and to provide part of his stipend, Vaughan was also appointed chaplain of the workhouse from 1870. He left St John's after 14 years for a lighter sphere of work, much needed after the long overstrain of mind and body amid a population of more than 10,000 (Coral Missionary Magazine 1880), to become vicar of St Thomas of Canterbury, Dodbrooke, in Devon. But he only stayed there a year, and for a further year as vicar of Englishcombe, near Bath, before returning to London in 1882 as vicar of St Nicholas Deptford, in Rochester diocese. Sadly, in 1886 he fell into trouble over drinking and debts and was declared bankrupt - Lambeth Palace Library holds letters of 1897 on the subject. He went to Queensland (sailing out on the steamer Austral - the newspapers reported that there were 685 in the other classes for all ports), and worked in Townsville. In 1890 he was part of a Musical and Dramatic Society Committee in Cootamundra, whose member intended practising regularly with the view of giving some concerts in aid of the charitable situations.

Vaughan's successor (1879-1909) was George Thomas Cull Bennett (see Charles Booth archive B222 pp20-35). He was a St Bees' trainee, and was ordained by the Bishop of Carlisle by letters dimissory, to serve in Durham diocese, in 1863 (in the same service as North Green-Armytage), to the curacy of St James Benwell, Newcastle (then in the diocese of Durham); from 1868-76 he was curate of Cockfield, in country Durham, and then for three years incumbent of Kenley, near Shrewsbury (where he and his wife Maria - who died during his time there - was involved in legal proceedings over the mortgage on Bishopscourt Farm, Shapwick near Blandford). He was musical, and one of many Victorians who wrote music for Miss Margaret Ann Headlam's harvest hymn Holy is the seed-time; in 1880 he published an anthem It came even to pass.  He was a supporter of the Family Welfare Association, the Charity Organisation Society (serving on its local committee) and the East London Nursing Society, and a regular attender at meetings of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In 1882 he was the Friday (St Antholin's) Lecturer at St Mary Aldermary in the City [a post funded by a long-established charity, whose holders latterly required the Bishop of London's approval].

The 1886 Religious Survey of London records attendances on 24 October of 98 in the morning, and 128 in the evening; see here for statistics of baptisms and weddings during the lifetime of the church.

Charles Booth, writing in 1902, commented that the parish, by then 70% Jewish, had a small, but attached congregation, with an inner circle of communicants devoted to the vicar, and most of them have formerly been parishioners though they may be so no longer. The most interesting piece of work is a Bible-class held by the vicar. It is crowded, and such is the pressure that if absent three times a member forfeits his place, and in a recent year out of fifty-five members forty-eight did not miss a single meeting. The fact is remarkable, and the explanation no less so. The Bible is made the vehicle for lessons in science, and the resources of the laboratory are freely used to illustrate its words. '"God made the firmament" — what do they know about the firmament?' So their vicar gives the class an insight into the nature of gases. And so absorbing is the interest of the course, and so thorough the teaching, that It has taken six years to reach the end of Genesis.

He remained here for thirty years, as a widower; in January 1902 at the age of 64 he married Louisa Nelhams (aged 42) at St John's, with his long-serving curate Charles Reeder officiating. She was a well-qualified nurse who had worked at the Victoria Hospital Chelsea, in Edinburgh and Glasgow, at Guy's and Westminster Hospitals. When he retired they moved to Blything in Suffolk, where he died in 1911, aged 74. Louisa then moved to Guildford and died in 1916, aged 57, at Netherne Mental Asylum, Hooley, near Coulsdson.

Curates up to the First World War

In 1865, in some desparation, Vaughan had advertised in The Ecclesiastical Gazette for a curate, at a stipend of £130 a year - views moderate, schoolroom services - to help him build up the new district.

In the next few years, Vaughan received occasional help from curates of other local parishes, including Coleman Connolly of Christ Church Watney Street, and Henry Hugh Beams Paull of St Paul Shadwell (whose wife Susannah was a translator of children's books, including Andersen's and Grimm's fairy tales).
Curates in Cull Bennett's time were:


Joseph Vaughan, the first incumbent, initially lived at 33 Nassau Place, Commercial Road East, and later at 12 Commercial Place, but all his successors lived at 400 Commercial Road [left], a 4-storey terrace house at some remove from the parish and in a noisy location. At 384-392 was the SPCK training college (see here) and at 394-396 a maternity hospital (founded as the Mothers' Lying-in Home in Glamis Road, moving to this site as the East End Mothers' Home, 1902-03, and becoming the East End Mothers' Lying-in Home 1903-26, taking over the college premises; more details here.

During the Second World War (the last Vicar having left), it was used as a hostel for bombed-out pensioners, and from here the British Federation of Young Co-operators (linked to the Labour Party) published in 1945 a pamphlet Talking to Some Purpose, an outline course for a youth discussion group; Hahn and Co, timber merchants, also had their office here. At this period it was known as 'Church House'. Ethel Upton, who worked with Fr Groser, lived here for a time after the War, as did the Grosers themselves a few years later, while work on St Katharine's was being completed. In 1968 the Church Commissioners bought it to house the newly-appointed Bishop of Stepney, Trevor Huddleston CR, who wanted to be among his people. (His predecessor, Evered Lunt, had lived in the West End, and then among the Canons of St Paul's in Amen Court). His successor Jim Thompson also lived here for a time, before deciding that he should move somewhere smaller; but it proved too small, so he moved again, to the current bishop's house in Coburn Road E3. 400 Commercial Road later became a cycle shop, and is now split into flats.


Hastings Leonard Langley (Vicar 1909-19) saw St John's through the war years, but died in 1920. Born in Chichester in 1870, he had trained at King's College London and was ordained in 1895. After a year's curacy at Coggeshall in Essex (in St Alban's diocese) he went to work with its previous vicar (Hubert Mornington Patch) at St Mary Charterhouse, a slum parish in Finsbury [now part of the parish of St Giles Cripplegate], from 1897-1909, marrying in his last year there.

When he left, Brian Edward Waud became priest in charge for a short time. His father, Samuel Wilkes Waud, Rector of Rettendon in Essex, was 57 when he was born in 1858. An exhibitioner of the Fishmongers' Company (on £20 a year) as a student at St John's College Cambridge, a curate in Leytonstone and Leeds, he was one of Fr Dolling's curates at the time of his death in 1902 at All Saints Poplar, one of the many clerical colleagues who assisted in his elaborate funeral rites (with Mass every half hour from 4.30am until his burial at Brookwood). At Poplar he had started a boys' rowing club on the River Lea. He was briefly all All Saints' Edinburgh, returning to Limehouse Rectory and then to the Clergy House of St Mary Cable Street, and was still living in the 1930s.

But the style of the parish was about to change....

The penultimate vicar (1919-39) was Henry Shrubbs. Born in Cambridge in 1880, he was a schoolmaster when he married Maud Allen in Lambeth in 1903; he then studied at Fitzwilliam Hall [not yet a college] in Cambridge and trained at Ridley Hall, and was ordained in 1908 to curacies at St Thomas Stepney (when he lived at 432 Commercial Road, close to St John's vicarage) and Christ Church Spitalfields. He he was involved with the Church Army, and to the disapproval of some conducted a number of baptisms at their local headquarters. The parish magazine  - buses 15a, 23a and 40a, trams from Aldgate and Bloomsbury [see here for more details] - set out his pitch » » »

Despite a low church stance, he maintained two (sometimes three) celebrations of the eucharist each Sunday - though it seems from the details here, from The Parish Record of 1937 (no.210), that 11am was a 'stay-behind' following Mattins - plus on saints' days, and a midweek service of Compline. The list of staff and organisations is interesting: there was a full programme (and the registers show reasonable numbers), yet when the war came, although the church was not blitzed, it failed quite rapidly. Right is a picture of a 'Bucket Parade in Camp' (?) from 1937, and left the church interior in the 1930s. Several other items in this edition of the magazine are also of interest, both for the attitudes they reveal and for the contrast with today, for instance on safeguarding, multiculturalism and bank interest rates!

An army of girls and boys had enjoyed a fortnight's holiday at the sea or in the country, and the Vicar expressed gratitude to those who had made this possible. Of course, one or two more venturesome boys and girls had to be rescued from the deep, and a fight resulted in heart-strain for one excitable youngster. Such things must be .... John Bull, the Verger, reported that at one camp by the sea over 2,000 poor boys were gathered, and that he would never forget the sight or the experience.


It is some years since St. John's was honoured with a royal visit. In 1922 H.R.H.The Princess Beatrice opened the Winter Sale of Work and this June H.R.H. The Duchess of Kent accompoanied by The Countess of Brecknock came to Church, listened and took part in a short programme of sacred music given by the juvenile Organisations and afterwards presented some 80 prizes to Sunday School children and Bible-class members. The visit was with difficulty kept secret until a few hours before the event and thus was particularly a Christian family gathering. Entrance to the Church was restricted to the regular worshippers and the parents of the children. Hundreds gathered in the street and thus secured a good view of our beautiful Princess and wife of the King's Brother. Inside the Church the proceedings were carried through quietly, reverently and without fuss. In the Church porch the Bishop of Stepney presented the Vicar to Her Royal Highness and he in turn presented Mrs. and Miss Srubbs, Rev. Dudley Gray and the Wardens and their wives. Mr. Bull in gown and carrying his staff of office escorted the company to the Chancel. The Princess expressed her real pleasure in coming to St. John's (her first visit to the East End), her earnest appreciation of all that the Church is endeavouring to do. It fell to Lydia Gardner the most-regular scholar to present a beautiful bunch of flowers to Her Royal Highness.

The Vicar appealed for £6
,000 for a new Church Institute; £60 for an electric organ blower; £100 for a church boiler; for 150 copies of Songs of Praise [an interesting choice - this hymnal, first produced in 1931, was 'non-denominational' and more widely used in schools than in churches]; 3 pairs of thick blue door curtains; 1 extending ladder; and 100 new kneelers. He wrote this about the Institute, at 20 Christian Street:

A VISION we trust will materialise
Long have we hoped for the provision of a really adequate and suitable Church Institute, to house the social, educational, physical and religious organisations so necessary to such a congested Parish as St. John's. Hundreds of the youth hang about sordid gloomy streets and courts during the dark evenings, waiting for mischief and too often find it; when a bright Institute offering healthy scope for their ever-increasing leisure hours would certainly draw a considerable proportion and thus save many from the pitfalls confronting them on every side. Thousands have benefiited by the warm, heart, high-toned hospitality of the old Institute, originally The Comet, a gin palace of Dickens' day. The building has seen rough times during the taming and training of Whitechapel youth, but it has sent out into life stalwart saints. Today the old building literally rocks under the weight of its human burden, and its sighs are heard in creaking floors and windows. Wonderfully generous has the Brewery landlord been, spending often far more that the rent paid. Never have we been refused help. If 'The Trade' has in time past been criticised, the ever helpful, kindly character of its principals could never be. What a joy and help it will be if the Brewery can see its way to give us the remaining years of the Lease, and further if the mysterious owner of the Freehold will freely or for a small sum present the piece of land. The privilege of taking part in so Christ-like a work is the only recompsense we can offer. The site is in the centre of the Parish, and within a few years of the Church. A sum of £6,000 is needed, God asks it, for his work in building up our Whitechapel youth upon Christian principles for Christian service. God never asks in vain, for we are but stewards of His wealth and bounty. Millions of Pounds on deposit in the Banks today produce to the owners only half a per cent. We would gladly give four times that interest to any who would lend the £6,000 needed. Could any money interest compare with the joyous uplift to down-trodden lives which the prop
osed Institute will give? Who will offer to God the first thousand pounds? Venture great things from Him, who has given you wealth.

Shrubbs had been much exercised over the difficulty, as he saw it, of keeping Sunday in what was then a Jewish-majority parish; there were several synagogues close by, and Hessel Street market, where Sunday is a busier day than the ordinary Saturday elsewhere, and non-Jewish shops were also opening. He pinned his hopes on the 1936 Shops (Sunday Trading Restriction) Act, passed amidst controversy, to help matters. And he was cheered by a recent confirmation of 36 lads and maidens from the parish, whose preparation was not through orderly classes, as in the suburbs, but often started over frying bacon and eggs or kippers (one in the eye for his Jewish neighbours!) - decisions for Christ are come to under an alley lamp-post.  A few Muslims were also beginning to live in the parish: in the baptism registers for the 1930s are several children with Asian fathers and English mothers - see here for statistics. His conclusion was as follows:

Sunday in Whitechapel is almost Sunday again owing to the working of the 'Sunday Closing Restriction Act' [sic: not its proper title]. Of course, loop-holes are being used to the uttermost. Christian Sunday habits, almost forgotten, are again becoming possible. Only an overdose of Christian forbearance can have allowed the old way to continue so long. We ought not to dishonour God's Day and hinder his children because we wish to manifest a kindly and over-tolerant spirit to the unbelieving dweller in our midst. Such licence is neither helpful to him nor to ourselves, and many a Jewish brother has expressed surprise to me, for he has been led to under-rate the sincerity of our religion. Softness is not always true kindness, nor an excuse for breaking a Divine Command. The Christian in Whitechapel can now go to worship in peace, and coarse-sounding bargaining seldom penetrates the sanctuary...
He added that a good choir was necessary, but impossible unless members were regular at rehearsals; that worshippers should follow the scriptures readings in the pew bibles; that they should join audiibly in responses and Amens; if you feel for the poor, feel in your pocket; and he reminded them that the church had no endowments.

To this he added the following guidance:

1. You have a paper that needs signing, bring it to the Church Vestry any morning at 10.15, or to the Institute after 6pm
2. You need a J.P. signature, apply to the Mayor at the Town Hall
3. You need a Laywer, go to Toynee Hall
4. You need a Nurse, or Hispital Letter, apply at Vicarage
The Vicar will do his best in every need. So ask him.
And he capped this advice with a paragraph urging parishioners to take out insurance cover against the toll of the roads - preferably a 'double accident policy' to cover death as well as injury from road accidents.

Henry Shrubbs left in 1939 for Stanstead Abbots, in St Alban's diocese. (He was the patron of the parish of Mickfield, near Stowmarket; also an Associate of the Royal Commonwealth Society.) He died around 1959, and one of his two sons, Eric Gordon Stubbs, who was also ordained, died in 1964.  
Assistant clergy between the Wars

Hyma Henry Redgrave had permission to officiate in the parish and lived in the Institute at 20 Christian Street from 1923-34. He was born in 1860 (or 61) and was a Durham and King's College London graduate, ordained in 1889, serving curacies in Waltham (St Alban's diocese), East Ham, Bermondsey, and Wolverhampton, and after a time as chaplain of Bethnal Green Infirmary became the Vicar of St Paul Burslem in 1904. There he set up a 'Cranmer Theological College', and was a protagonist for the establishment of Cranmer Hall, within St John's College Durham, as a 'Protestant Hostel', in 1909. In 1912 he had published The practical principles of Jesus: Being a practical precept for every day in the year, each precept being based on an express approval or disapproval of our Lord: with copious Scriptural references (a precursor of the 'WWJD' approach!)

On 9 April 1912 Isidor Straus, owner of Macy's store in New York, had written to Redgrave from Claridge's Hotel I learn from the Daily Telegraph ... of the dire distress you are attempting to aid in relieving in the Pottery Districts, with which my firm has been in business for almost half a Century. I ask you to accept enclosed order in the Manchester & Liverpool District Bank for Fifty Pounds to assist in the worthy work ... The following day Isidor and his wife (who were observant Jews) set sail on the Titanic; their story in relation to its sinking had been dramatised, and can be read in brief here. On 13 September 1934 Redgrave wrote to Isidor's son For 22 years now I have kept secret from the world a matter in which the British public would have evinced the most profound interest, namely, the last letter which your beloved Father, Isidor Straus, wrote on earth, only the day prior to the day he and your saintly Mother joined their ship of destiny - The Titanic.

However, in 1913 he had been deprived of his living after a consistory court verdict of 'immoral conduct' on four charges over his relationship with his foster-daughter, reported in these terms in the Daily Mail of 28 November:
Serious charges in connection with a girl were brought yesterday, in the Consistory Court at Lichfield, against the Rev. Hyma Henry Redgrave, vicar of St. Paul's, Burslem. The Chancellor of the diocese, Mr. G. J. Talbot, K.C., presided. Mr. W.H. Disturnal, K.C., said that for nine years the defendant had been at St. Paul's, a large working-class parish. He was aged fifty and a married man with a family. The girl, Hannah Gater, was twenty-two and the daughter of a working potter at Burslem. The acquaintance was formed through the vicar visiting the girl's mother on her death-bed. On February 22 he wrote to the late Bishop of Lichfield: The girl in question is my foster-daughter. In the very sight of Almighty God I promised her dying and departed mother that she should be in my charge and that I would shield her from all wrong and harm. I have sacredly kept this promise.

After the mother's death the girl went to the vicarage as a servant.The defendant had been consistently with her and had conducted himself with her in the presence of witnesses in a manner which could lead only to one conclusion. When the vicar sometimes had meals with her he had been seen to squeeze her hand and press her foot. Upon one occasion when a girl friend of Miss Gater entered the dining-room, she found the vicar in an arm-chair with Miss Gater on his knee. On July 19 last year the vicar was in an hotel in the Strand, London, with Miss Gater and a woman named Mumford, whom he had engaged to look after her. Mumford went to the girl's room and found the door locked. It was opened by the vicar and she found Miss Gater alone with him. The defendant had bought clothes for the girl and directed tradesmen to send them to a neighbour's address. He had rented houses at Stafford and Leicester where he had stayed with her. At the latter place a house was taken in the name of Lucas, and by that name the defendant was known to the tradesmen.

Alice May Pindler, thirteen, grand-daughter of a sidesman, said that when she went with the vicar and Miss Gater to Rudyard Lake they travelled in a first-class carriage and the vicar put his arm round Miss Gater's waist. He bought some chocolates for them and a spray of roses for Miss Gater. At Rudyard Lake a storm was threatening and got up from the seat, the vicar having hold of Miss Gater's arm. The storm becoming more threatening, the vicar said he would offer up a little prayer that the thunder and lightning might hold off. She once heard the vicar say that Miss Gater was a naughty girl because she had not given him a kiss that day.

Herbert Jennings, headmaster of St. Paul's School, said he frequently visited the vicarage. When the girl first went there she was treated as a servant, wearing a cap and apron. After some time she put aside servant's clothes. The girl was not popular with the family.

Lily Brett, a companion of Miss Gater, said the vicar always made a terrible fuss of Miss Gater. He would put his arm round her, drink tea out of her cup, and kiss her. Once or twice he had come into Miss Gater's bedroom when the witness was there. On one occasion she went with Miss Gater to Newcastle-under-Lyme. They met the vicar, who took them to a tea shop and bought strawberries and cherries. He bought Miss Gater gloves and took them to a picture theatre.

Questioned by Mr. Vachell for the defendant, she admitted that Miss Gater told her she had been adopted by the Redgraves. She also heard that this had caused annoyance to the sons and daughters at home. The hearing was adjourned until today.

The court stated that it regarded the possibility of adultery having occurred with the gravest suspicion, although it was not prepared to find the charge proved, believing the relationship was one of passion and affection. (In due course Hannah bore him seven children, in addition to the four from his first marriage.) As a consequence, Redgrave held no ecclesiastical office until he came to St John's nine years later - though was a tutor for a year at King's London, his old college, in 1921. In 1934 his permission to officiate was transferred to Somers Town, and the following year to St Jude Bethnal Green; and in 1937 he was appointed Vicar of Stow Bedon with Breccles, in Norfolk, from which he retired to Hastings in 1949. The family has produced several generations of actors; Hyma's brother was the grandfather of Sir Michael Regrave.

For a short time in 1935 Clifford John Nash was a curate here (see below for the Vicar's comments). He was a graduate of the evangelical Ridley College, Melbourne in Australia (from which he received a higher degree in absentia in 1944 - in 1945 he was selected for the Grainger postgraduate scholarship to study for the degree of Bachelor of Divinity at Sydney University), and had served three curacies there (successfully starting a scout troop in one parish). He came here under the terms of the 1874 Colonial Clergy Act, and lived at Pierhead House, Wapping. He returned to Australia as vicar of Christ Church Melton in 1937, and two years later published As in the Days of Noah: A Christian's Guide through World Chaos (Marshall Morgan & Scott); he was a part-time lecturer in Semitic Studies at Sydney University. He died in 1948; his funeral was at Sydney Cathedral.

Dudley James Milne Gray was a Durham graduate who trained at St Augustine's College Canterbury (where he was secretary of the college cricket team - of which several years later Alex Solomon was a member), and began his ministry in Tottenham in 1931 before serving at Tai-an and then Pingyin in China with SPG; he came to a curacy at St John's a sick man in 1935 (his wife was an honorary 'lady worker', along with Miss R. Clifton) and expressed gratitude for the value of his time here, and the Vicar praised his loyalty, dilgence and untiring visitation and thoroughness ... he particularly attracted the children. He left in 1937 to build up a new congregation at St Luke Leagrave in Luton - parochial conditions are different at Luton, human nature is the same, wrote the Vicar. Under the heading 'Two Departures and No Arrival' he asked who will fill the gap? Pray that we may be guided aright, for the East End requires only the very best man possible. By contrast, on the departure of Clifford Nash for 'the land of his adoption', he merely noted [mis-naming him as 'C.V. Nash'] Many felt that Mr. Nash was better suited to Australian life, 'up country' ... he visited us before he embarked and we joined together in prayer.
St Luke Leagrave began as a conventional district of Biscot, to serve a rapidly-growing area of Luton; worship was in a 'tin tabernacle' until a dual-purpose church was built, but this burnt down in 1947;  a new church
was built in 1956. The present incumbent is Grace Sentamu-Baverstock, daughter of the Archbishop of York.

The Parish newsletter lists W.R. Perry as an honorary assistant at this period [details needed], and from 1937 Frank Anderson Moss Ellis as curate: he officiated at baptisms and weddings, but left when it turned out that he had not in fact been canonically ordained!


Hubert Alfred Robins became priest-in-charge in 1940 (appointed by the Crown because the see of London was vacant at the time), for what must have been a sad incumbency. Born in 1895, he had trained at St Boniface College Warminster (King's College) and was ordained in 1936, served two two-year local curacies, at Holy Trinity, Mile End Old Town, and Christ Church Stepney. He left in 1943 when local clergy were centred on St George-in-the-East, to become vicar of St Erkenwald, Southend, and then in 1952 to two parishes in Devon, Shebbear and Buckland Filleigh (with two years as rural dean of Torrington) before retiring to Cornwall in 1968, living in Lesnewth, Bocastle.  (Right is Golding Street in 1937.)

When the church closed in 1943 it was used as a store for furnishings from bomb-damaged churches (the eventual disposal of these items, at the expense of the East End, makes an interesting, and rather shocking, story). By 1960 the building was in a terrible state; vandals had broken in and smashed all the furniture and wrecked most of the windows; even the stone pulpit was broken. The floor was littered with old hymnbooks and bibles, parish magazines and marble wall-monuments from St Peter Regent Square. Locals had dumped mouldering settees and chairs. The diocesan authorities had attempted to prevent entry by overturning the stone font against the main door, but to no avail. The building was demolished in 1964.

St John's House, the Parish Institute at 20 Christian Street (next to what had been a synagogue until the 1920s - the site was rebuilt, and is now a mosque) remained for a time. Nora Neal lived here, and ran various clubs on the premises. The local Franciscans used space as an extra classroom for English language classes for immigrants.

No Trees in the Street
A 1959 film, rated as sincere but saccharine, featuring Ronald Howard, Stanley Holloway, David Hemmings, Sylvia Sims, Melvyn Hayes and Herbert Lom: a retired policeman who shows a young criminal how a similar lad went astray twenty years previously.

Some shots were filmed locally - left are stills of Hemmings and Howard outside the church entrance in Golding Street, and round the corner outside Delafield House and Drewett House in Burslem Street, next to contemporary pictures (now with trees!) of these spots. Right is Delafield House today.

In 2003 London Borough of Tower Hamlets agreed to the sale of the former school between Christian and Golding Streets (see here for its history, as a Board School and later as Bishop Challoner Girls' Secondary School), and adjacent playing field, for a housing development by Bellway Homes, who proposed 277 units (35% of them affordable housing), with leisure and community facilities. This proved too much for the site, so plans were scaled down and finally agreed in 2007, with 150 units, of which 61 are 'affordable' housing. Right is a view from the new flats looking towards the Shard.

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