W. D. Caröe in Walthamstow

St Barnabas church, St Barnabas Road, London E17 8JZ

The church of St Barnabas Walthamstow is located among streets of modest Victorian terraced houses and owes its existence to the generosity of two philanthropists.

 

The first, Henry Casey (c.1834-1914), was a merchant in the City of London and the owner of much of the local building land and freely gave the land on which the church is built. The second was Richard Foster (1822–1910), another wealthy City merchant, who paid not only for the construction of the church but also for the construction of the vicarage and the hall that is now named after him.

Stafford Hall, London E17. (Source: Wikimedia)
Stafford Hall, London E17. (Source: Wikimedia)

The first church buidling was a temporary corrugated-iron building that was set up in 1900 as a chapel of ease within the parish of St Saviour Walthamstow pending the creation of the separate parish of St Barnabas. That iron buidling is still in situ and in use as a community centre called Stafford Hall.

W. D. Caröe (1857–1938). (Source: Wikimedia Commons).
W. D. Caröe (1857–1938). (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

By 1901 the  separate parish of St Barnabas Walthamstow had been created, the advowson of the vicarage being vested in the diocesan bishop. The present church was opened in 1903. The architect of the church, the vicarage and the hall  was William Douglas Caröe [pr. Ka(r)oh] (1857–1938), son of a Danish diplomat based in the UK. It was the intention that the church should be “a typical specimen of a simple and not expensive place of worship suitable for erection in less wealthy outlying districts where funds are most difficult to come by.” (Saxby, 16-17)  The building, which cost £20,000, is mostly of red brick with stone dressings, a small spired turret at the north-west corner and windows in a late-Gothic style.

 

The church has a number of splendid fixtures and fittings many of which are not original to the church but contemporary with it and acquired in the closing decades of the twentieth century. A few are shown here:

 

The organ

The two-manual organ (1904) by the company of Walter J. Fisher of Oxford is thought to incorporate work by Eustace Ingram of London (Litten, 13) and is located on the south side of the chancel at ground level even though Caröe, the church’s architect, has provided a first-storey gallery for it. The organ case is to the design of W. D. Caroe and was carved by Dent & Francis of Crediton, Devon (Litton 13; 20, fn.6), who worked on other oak fittings in the church (Litten, 8).

 

 References
  • Anglican Church Building in Victorian Walthamstow by S. Saxby. Series: Monograph New Series No. 46. (London: Walthamstow Historical Society, 2014
  • St Barnabas: organ specification‘, National Pipe Organ Register. Online resource accessed  4 No vember 2017
  • St Barnabas and St James the Greater, Walthammstow E17 by J. W. S. Litten (London: PCC of St Barnabas and St James the Great Walthamstow, 2001)
  • Richard Foster (philanthropist)‘, Wikipedia. Online resource accessed 4 November 2017
  • Walthamstow: Churches‘, A History of the County of Essex. Volume 6. (London: Victoria County History, 1973), pp.285-294. Online reource, accessed 4 November 2017
  • Walthamstow, St Barnabas‘, The Church of England: a church near you. Online resource accessed 4 November 20-17
  • W. D. Caröe‘, Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 4 November 2017

Joseph Maltby Bignell alone in Walthamstow

St Michael and All Angels, London E17 6PQ

Walthamstow is an ancient settlement on the west bank of the River Lea, for which records date back to the time of King Edward the Confessor (1003-66). It is now absorbed within the north-east London suburbs.

With the coming of the railway in the middle of the nineteenth century the area saw rapid housing development by a variety of independant property speculators building homes for the respectable working and lower-middle classes, and much of the buidling stock dates from this time. Even so, the area around the medieval parish church maintains an air of earlier times, and self-consciously promotes itself as ‘Walthamstow Village’.

Walthamstow’s nineteenth-century population boom brought a need for new churches and by 1903 there were twelve Anglican churches and seven Anglican missions in Walthamstow; in 2017 there are nine Anglican parishes. Among these the church of St Michael and All Angels (1885) is the largest, establshed with the generous support of the financier and philanthropist Ricahrd Foster (1822-1910). It was built in an Early English Gothic style using dark brown brick to a design by the little-known Joseph Maltby Bignell  (1827-87) who spent much of his architectural career working as an assistant to Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-78). St Michael and All Angel’s is – for now – his only known completed building.

Currently the church has two pipe-organs. One, of indeterminate origin, is in a gallery on the south side of the chancel. It has two manuals and pedal and replaced an earlier one-manual and pedal organ that was situated here. The current instrument was  decommissioned some decades ago when its console was removed and replaced by a now rather tired and unattractive sounding electronic instrument by the Allen Organ Company; our expectations of digital technology have moved on!

The other pipe-organ is a rather nice Victorian, one-manual and pedal instrument in a handsome ‘Gothick’ case placed in the south east corner of the nave. It was built by the firm of G. M. Holdich originally for a church in the Essex countryside, where in 1965 it underwent restoration by the firm of N, P Mander. The instrument seems to have come to Walthamstow in about 2003. It has a bold, bright sound and while it is no masterpiece it is well-suited to congregational accompaniment and is almost contemporary with the building.

We can date this instrument from G. M. Holdich’s business address given on the builder’s plate: ‘Euston Road, Kings Cross, London’ from where the firm traded between 1858 and 1866. This fact contradicts a date of  1844 that is given on a recent donor’s plate on the side of the organ.

References