News that Redbridge’s only Grade 1 listed building could close, putting an end to 800 years of weekly worship, seems to have resulted in shrug of Wanstead’s shoulders.
Proposals that St Mary’s church could cease to hold weekly services, but rather have just 16 services each year, are being debated at a special meeting at the Overton Drive church on Sunday.
But the response to reports earlier in the summer that it could be put to radically different uses did not encourage church authorities that support could be rallied from the community.
The paper being discussed says:
A group of church members is attempting to address the pressures on the church by finding new ways for the wider community to use, and visit, the church. It is hoped that this year’s Wanstead Fringe can play a part in this process.
The church faces steep maintenance bills and a small congregation, though it must be said that many churches which do not have the same property responsibilities manage with smaller congregations and ministerial support.
The building and churchyard are beautiful and peaceful places at the heart of the history of Wanstead. The pews are “high box’; they are increasingly unusual and are actually listed separately from the building. The dramatic interior was – as was well noted at the time – the location for the opening shot of the Tom Hardy/Ridley Scott drama Taboo.
The meeting will be held on Sunday at 12.15.
- The apparent indifference to the future of St Mary’s led local historian and author Greg Roberts to blog recently that there were echoes of the neglect which allowed the destruction of Wanstead House. He wrote: “In the long run, listed status will conserve St Mary’s for future generations, but doesn’t this whole episode smack of yet more neglect and a rather patronising assumption that the people of Wanstead will accept another loss in their usual stoic manner?”