Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A short history of All Saints Church 1839, Rotherhithe

All Saints Church, from
The British Critic Quarterly Theological
Review and Ecclesiastical Record

(Volume 28, 1840, p.496)

All Saints Church, Church Hall,
Graveyard and Vicarage on the
Rotherhithe 1914 (London Sheet
78) Ordnance survey Map
All Saints Church, its vicarage and its churchyard were established on Lower Road in July 1839 and destroyed by a German flying bomb less than a century later on Sunday 13th August 1944.  The site of the church buildings and graveyard today is King George's Fields, on the corner of Lower Road and Surrey Quays Road, a small public park established to commemorate George V, opposite the Dock Offices.  This is a short summary of the church, as I was unable to find out much information.

As with Trinity Church, which was built two years earlier, All Saints was designed by Sampson Kempthorne, who was an innovative designer of workhouses. The lofty The British Critic Quarterly Theological Review and Ecclesiastical Record (Volume 28, 1840) considered both to have have been built with such a restricted budget that they were scarcely worth description, as has already been quoted on the Trinity Church post, but contains the useful information that both were designed to hold 1000 persons, cost about 3400/. and were arranged  for one-third pews, one-third sittings at a low rate for the middling classes, and one-third free seats (p.496).  The British Critic Quarterly approves of the side elevation, with its four windows and its simple steeple and spire, but disapproves of the front, which it describes as excessively crowded "with buttresses and windows of all sorts and sizes, circular and pointed."

A History of the County of Surrey, Volume 4, adds that it had a chancel, vestry, nave (roofed in one span) with a gallery at the west end and that it was built of white brick with stone dressings.

Together, Trinity, All Saints and Chirst Church cost £13,525 to build and consecrate, a sum that Beck generated with the local contributions, the donation of land and the input of Sir William Gomm, Lord of the manor of Rotherhithe. In 1848 Edward Blick recorded that All Saints was endowed with £150 a year. 

As with Trinity, All Saints was built on a fairly tight budget, but it is impressive that in an area where financial resources were at a premium, so many churches were made available for the rapidly expanding communities.  With its simple but elegant spire, and its Gothic Revival touches, this was an admirable contribution to the area.  From the illustration above in the The British Critic Quarterly it looks really rather appealing.

Writing in 1907, Reverend Beck provides a list of the clergy of All Saints, with some interesting evaluations.  Reverend Robert Jones B.A. of Jesus College, Oxford was "an acceptable preacher" and renowned Welsh scholar who oversaw the construction of the vicarage.  He was succeeded by Reverend Christopher Tweddle M.A. of Clare College, Cambridge, on the death of Reverend Jones.  Beck says that his "influence was very great, especially among young men."  Although Beck does not elaborate, a very welcome email from Lisa Ellis provided the information that he died in 1885 at the at the age of 45, a premature death that followed several months of illness.  Lisa cites the obituary in The Church Times, which regretted that "he has been called away in the midst of an active work, which his friends hoped would be crowned with excellent results, and which, as far as it had gone, had already accomplished much.”  It goes on to say that "Mr Tweddle set about in a quiet, earnest, and common-sense way to work up his parish, and all who know what has been accomplished there during his too short incumbency of only five years, will be forward to bear witness to the steady progress and improvement that was taking place, not only in the services of the church, but in the organisation of the parish."   He was followed by Reverend Dr William Delancy West who was a native of Rotherhithe, his father a local ship builder.  He married the daughter of a Bermondsey leather manufacturer.  Beck approved of him, saying "his eloquent sermons and spiritual instructions were very highly valued by all who had the privilege of profiting by them" but he retired after only a year due to the ill health of his wife.  The final incumbent mentioned by Beck was the Reverend John Jervis, M.A., of Queen's College, Cambridge, under whom the parish room was built for Sunday Schools and other activities.

After the church was destroyed, the parish records of All Saints were deposited in the Greater London Record Office, The County Hall, London SE1 7PB, by the Rector of St Mary with All Saints, Rotherhithe, 7 July 1980 (Acc. 1564) (see the National Archive website).

Although All Saints parish was created in 1842, it was amalgamated with St Mary's parish in 1952 to become the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary with All Saints, which is now served by St Mary's Church, St Marychurch Street. 


Alan Burkitt-Gray said...

Pedantic note: "both were designed to hold 1000 persons, cost about 3400/."

That / looks like a shilling stroke. 3400 shillings (at 20/- to the £1) would be a remarkably cheap, even for the mid-19th century, £170. It's really a lower-case L, which was used to signify pounds until the £ sign (which is really just a curly upper-case L) took over.

Andie said...

Thanks for the clarification. I copied it directly from the text, where it is certainly written with a stroke. An error in the original text, I suppose. As above, in his "Memorials to Serve for a History of the parish of St Mary, Rotherhithe," (1907) Beck puts the combined cost for Trinity, All Saints and Christ Church at £13,525.