Warning for St Mary’s plan

The case against ceasing weekly worship at St Mary’s church in Overton Drive has received influential support, as campaigners attempt to persuade the Bishop of Chelmsford not to agree to the closure plan.

The Wanstead Historical Society, which is not related to the anti-closure campaigners, has written to the bishop, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, setting out the case for the church remaining in frequent use.

In its powerfully argued letter, it warns against the building being left unused for long periods, something which would inevitably happen with the current proposal, which would only see services taking place there a handful of times each year.

The letter states:

We treasure Wanstead’s history which we see as a continuum, including a duty to contribute to a good future by right present actions. The place of this parish church in Wanstead’s story is fundamental. We know that you will be well aware of the building’s history and its place in the community…

The Society is shocked at the prospect of diminution of its role in the life of the parish and wishes to record its objection to the present proposal to restrict services to selected major events in the Church’s calendar.

Firstly, we see the the parish and its officers as stewards of a magnificent heritage. While it is feasible and not damaging to take this heritage to future generations in the best possible way, we believe it right to do so.

We understand that the parish has resources to well afford the church’s maintenance costs and attendance. We further understand that the church’s support is strong, with well over fifty communicants regularly supporting Sunday morning worship. We understand too that worshippers voluntarily maintain access and provide other duties when required. Plainly, the level of its parishioners’ commitment, attendance and support is high.

Thirdly, we believe that the building’s Grade 1 status alone warrants the parish’s strong and predominant support in the circumstances. Any such building in regular and important use, in the charge of people committed to its care who possess the required understanding and resources will naturally prosper: a building of this status must, we assert, be given every opportunity to prosper. Left unused for substantial periods, it will lose its place in our minds and, to some extent, suffer.

Wanstead is one parish with two churches. Both are historic masterpieces of design with prominent designers and significant histories. We understand that their full service to the parish is indeed feasible and we believe that the parish’s fullest support of both warrants this.

Wanstead is one parish with two churches. Both are historic masterpieces of design with prominent designers and significant histories. We understand that their full service to the parish is indeed feasible and we believe that the parish’s fullest support of both warrants this.

We believe that the parish’s current proposal is wrong and we humbly ask that you exercise your powers to see the proposal set aside.

Campaigners are still waiting for the bishop to decide whether the plan to convert St Mary’s into a “festival church” – ie one which is open for festival Sundays – is to be approved.

1 Comment on "Warning for St Mary’s plan"


  1. Well said Wanstead Historical Society (not to be confused with the NIMBY self-promoting do little wanstead society who promote themselves as a charity but aren’t).

    Wanstead Historical Society have open meeting every first Monday of the month in Wanstead library. Visitors welcome. Next meeting 04/02/19 is Stratford seen through Edwardian postcards.

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