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The History of St George's Church, Harold Hill

Introduction

Whilst going through some old papers that I inherited from amateur historian, Ernie Herbert I came across a poor photocopy of a 45 page booklet entitled The Story of St George's 1934-1974. The original booklet was a low level production typed onto a stencil and then laboriously hand turned through a Roneo duplicator and stapled. I read through it and it contained so much historical information on the Harold Hill area that I thought it well worth reproducing. The photo-copied images from the booklet were very poor and they were not really of much use, though I have used a couple that were just about usable. They are supplemented by some other images which do not appear in the booklet. The text is all legible and I have digitised it using modern character recognition software supplemented by some typing of the tables. This means that the document once I corrected it for errors can now be searched, copied and reproduced. It is now a verbatim copy of the original document. I have also included it on our download page so it can be downloaded in its entirety and read offline or reproduced. If any reader has any other relevant photos or additions I would be happy to see them for possible inclusion. Obviously I will not be editing or "correcting" this text as it is a facsimile of the booklet. But more recent photos or memoirs will be more than welcome.
There is other related material on the Friends of Dagnam Park website at St Thomas’ Church. And an image of the bell from the Neave Chapel can be seen here.

Del Smith

The Story of St. George’s

1934 - 1974

 

FOREWORD


On May 26th, 1974 St. George's Church, Chippenham Road Harold Hill, celebrated its twenty-first anniversary. We felt in this anniversary year that it would be good, while we still have members who can recall the Church from its earliest years, to record for those who come after us, the story of its beginnings and early life.
We are very fortunate in having Ruby Phillips as our storyteller. She has written just as she remembers things and so we have a warmly personal eye-witness account of the people who have worked together and prayed and worshipped and laughed together and served God and His people with her from the earliest days until the present time.
Our Churchwarden, Mr English, has also searched through minutes and magazines and has incorporated some of these documents into the story. We are grateful to them both for their hard work, and also to Miss Vera Ingleby who has kindly typed this book for us.
A twenty-first birthday sets us on the road to adulthood and maturity. Harold Hill and all the world  very much needs adult and mature Christians today who will be prepared to follow the call and example of Jesus, fearlessly base our life on Christian standards and go on telling others the wonderful story of God’s love……….

JOHN. P. PRICE. Vicar.

 

CLERGY

ST. EDWARD’S, ROMFORD

Vicar: Rev. F. R. Wright. M.A.

ST. GEORGE'S HALL, STRAIGHT ROAD

Priest in Charge:

1944 – 1948.   Rev. A.P.A. Gaze. B.A.
October 1948. Rev. D.A. Rhymes. B.A.
October 1949. Rev. W.J. Maloney.
February 1951. Rev. F.D. Burne.
April 1952. Rev. G. Vincent.
January 1953. Rev. E.R. Bardsley, M.A.

ST. GEORGE'S CHURCH, CHIPPENHAM RD.

26th  May 1953 - 11th  Sept.1956, Rev. Eric. Roy. Bardsley. M.A. Minister-in-Charge

ECCLESIASTICAL DISTRICT OF ST. GEORGE HAROLD HILL

11th  Sept.1956 - 20th  July l958, Rev Eric Roy Bardsley, M.A, Minister-in-Charge.                                        
28th  Oct. 1958 - 13th  Nov. 1964, Rev. John Crump, A.K.C, Minister-in-Charge.

PARISH OF ST. GEORGE, HAROLD HILL

14th  Nov.1964 - 1st Oct. 1965.  Rev. John Crump, A.K.C. - Vicar
26th Nov. 1965 - 16th Apr 1972.  Rev. Andrew Robert de Pury B.D. - Vicar
27th Oct. 1972  Rev. John Francis Price. M.A. – Vicar

LAY READERS

1952 - 1955     Mr. J.A. Baveystock, A.P.I.P.H.H.
1956    Mr.      R.F. Walland

1956 - 1971     Mr. G. Roberts, B.A.

Pianist, 1948-1952, Miss R. Phillips
Pianist & Choirmaster 1953-1959, Mr G Roberts B.A.
Organist & Choirmaster, 1960-1971,  Miss S Hughes
Organist, 1971-1972, Mr. K. Langford
Organist, 1973, Mr. J. Prentice.

Other Officers of the Church

Year

Church Warden

Deputy

Treasurer

Secretary

Parish of Romford

1948

A.J.Miller

D.Tilbury

Deputy People’s

J.Aylett

1949

A.J.Miller

D.Tilbury

Warden was

J.Aylett

1950

A.J.Miller

J.Aylett

Deputy

A,Thorogood

1951

A.O'Hare

J.Aylett

Treasurer

J.Baveystock

1952

A.O'Hare

J.Aylett

J.Baveystock

1953

G.Roberts

D.Tilbury

J.George

J.Baveystock

1954

G.Roberts

D.Tilbury

J.George

J.Baveystock

1955

G.Roberts

J.Clark

J.George

G.Roberts

Ecclesiastical District of St. George, Harold Hill

1956

G.Roberts

J.Clark.

W.English

G.Roberts

1957

G.Roberts, & J.Clark

W.English

W.English

G.Roberts

1958

J.Clark

W.English

W.English

G.Roberts

1959

J.Clark

W.English

W.English

D.Hayfield

1960

J.Clark

W.English

W.English

D.Hayfield

1961

J.Clark

W.English

W.English

D,Gunn

1962

C. Brind

W.Hughes

W.English

J.Freshwater

1963

C. Brind

C.Wells

W.English

J.Freshwater

Parish of St. George, Harold Hill

1964

C. Brind

R.Victory

W.English

R.Phillips

1965

N.Coverdale

R.Victory

W.English

R.Phillips

1966

N.Coverdale

R.Victory

W.English

R.Phillips

1967

N.Coverdale

C.Brind

H.Tomey

R.Phillips

1968

C. Brind

C.Wells

H.Tomey

R.Phillips

1969

C. Brind

C.Wells

R.Phillips

R.Hayfield

1970

W.Minal

R.Victory

R.Phillips

R.Hayfield

1971

W.Minal

R.Victory

R.Phillips

R.Hayfield

1972

W.Minal

R.Victory

R.Phillips

R.Hayfield

1973

W.Minal & G.Mackay

W.English

R.Phillips

R.Hayfield

1974

W. Mackay

W.English

R.Phillips

R.Hayfield

 

GIFTS AND DONORS

 

 

No records of legacies, gifts etc. can be found - therefore this list has been compiled from memory. The Vicar would be pleased to receive information of any item not included to complete this record.

 

GIFTS DONORS
Processional Cross, Brass, with Paschal Lamb Devices Miss Hutchinson
Sanctus Bell In memory of Mr.& Mrs. Pickett Miss Pickett
1 Pair Brass Candlesticks Sunday School
2 pair Brass Candlesticks in memory of Mrs M.A.Willer, 1948 Mr & Mrs Draper

1 Pair Brass Candlesticks (Note 1pr Brass Candlesticks on loan to
Bishop Stopford C of E School

Mr & Mrs Draper
1 Pair Large Brass Vases; Brass Altar Cross, Brass Bookstand Mr & Mrs Draper
Sanctuary Lamp in Memory of Mr A.J.Miller Miss E.Miller
1 Pair Brass Vases Miss R.Phillips
Picture of the Good Shepherd Miss Stringer

Picture of the Light of the World, by W. Holman Hunt, Memorial
to Rev. F.J.Perry, March 1945

St. Edward's Mens Chain
White and Blue Vestments Rev. A.P.A.Gaze
White and Gold Burse and Veil Mr. W.Stevens
Purple Vestments Mr R.De'ath
Censor Misses M. & F. Perry
Red Pulpit and Offertory Bags Sewing Guild
Altar Cloth Mrs J.George
St. George's Banner ( This was destroyed when the Church was burgled
and the present red banner was replaced by the insurance
St Edward's Sewing Guild
Red Stole and Maniple St Edward's Sewing Guild
Statue of the Virgin Mary Mrs Baveystock
2 Large Hassocks Miss R.Phillips
Bell Once Used at the Lady Chapel of Noak Hill Mansion at Dagnam Park Lady Neave
Lectern Bible & 1928 Service Book St Edward's Romford
Electric Clock in Memory of Mr G.D.Roper March 1945 Mrs W.Roper
Crochet Lace Festival Altar, Creedence Table and Piscina Cloths Mrs Brocading
Aumbrey Memorial to Mr J.A.Baveystock, February 1955 Mrs Baveystock
Mothers Union Banner 1956 Mrs M.Hughes
Cope Romford Branch Toc H
Two Flower Pedestalsin Oak, 1959; Green Vestments purchased with gifts
from St Mary's Broxted &St Mary's Woodford. (Our Old Set Sent to S.P.G.)
Mr W.Minal
Lectern Bible, (R.S.V.) 1964 Members of St. George's PCC
Oak Alms Dish (With Shield Devices) 1964 Mr G.Roberts
Two Oak Altar Candlesticks (Made From Oak 100 Years Old) 1964 Mr G.Roberts

Two Oak Std Candlesticks (One was completed earlier and used for
Paschal Candle) 1964

Mr W.Minal
Oak Reading Stand (Pulpit) 1964 Mr W.G.English
White Pulpit Fall 1964 Mrs B.Crump
Offertory Bags and Bookmarks Mrs B.Crump
Handworked Hassocks (46) (1966/74) Members of the Congregation
Wooden Crucifix, in Memory of Mr W.J.Holloway  
Two Handworked Altar rail Kneelers, 1973 Mrs C.Victory
Holy Bibles (R.S.V.) 12 in memory of Mr D.H.Dearman, 1973 (Many of the
Congregation Gave Bibles in Memory of Friends and Relations) 

Mrs N.Minal,

10 in Memory of Mr M.Minal Mrs B.Wilcox,
10 in Memory of Mr M.Minal Mrs J.Graham
Five Anthem Books Miss C.Hayfield
Green Bookmark Miss R.Phillips
Red Wilton Carpet for Sanctuary in Memory of Mr W.Jackson 1974 Miss G.White
Centre Altar Rail in Memory of Mr W.Jackson 1974 Miss G.White
Red Wilton Carpet for Aisles In Memory of Miss E.Pickett, 1974 Miss Pickett (by legacy)
Three White Covered Hymn Books Mrs E.Prentice
Two Icons Mr & Mrs I.Toombs
Green AltarFrontal and Alms Bags in memory of their parents Mr & Mrs W.English
Baptistry Screen Mr & Mrs W.English & Mr R.Victory

 

 

1    A New Daughter for St. Edward‘s

In the early 1930s Straight Road had only a few houses on the right hand side and on either side of the road were acres of green fields. Gradually the fields on the left hand side disappeared and houses took their place. Most of these were occupied by young families.

In 1934 it was generally accepted that something had to be done with the children, so a Sunday School was started in a hen house belonging to a farmer. The two teachers came from St. Thomas’ Church, Noak Hill, Miss Barber and Mr. John Moule.

In 1936 the Crusaders Hall in Colchester Road was obtained, where the numbers of children, increased. In February Miss Stringer was asked to assist Miss Barber as she was leaving at Easter to return to the Midlands.

Miss Phillips joined the school in September 1936 and after attending a teachers’ Summer School at Weymouth more teachers arrived. There were enough children to have  small classes although the older ones always insisted they had their younger brothers and sisters with them - sometimes toddlers came too!
During this time, the Rev. F. J Perry and ladies from St. Edward’s Church, Romford undertook the task of house visiting, and the numbers of children attending
Sunday School rapidly increased as we were the only school in the area. All denominations were accepted.

The teachers would attend the 9.30 service at St. Edward's Church and had to leave during the last hymn to catch the bus. (The fare 2d. from the Market Place to Gallows Corner).

Once a month Mr. Perry came to teach the children Merbecke's setting of the Holy Communion Service.
Christmas parties were very jolly occasions as teachers from St. Edward’s Church came to help with the games.
Chrissie Clark and Ruby Phillips would walk from Romford, pushing a pram containing bowls of jellies, jugs, bottles of lemonade, milk, food etc. as there were no facilities at the Crusaders Hall. The children had to bring their own cups, plates and spoons with their names on and invariably the name tags were missing by the time they needed them. Summer outings to Theydon Bois were held jointly with St. Edward’s.
As more houses were built, it was felt that a church should be built and we were very grateful that a piece of land was given by Mr. Tom England and a dual purpose building was planned.

2. The first Church in Straight Road

Everybody rallied to help raise some money - collecting boxes, miles of pennies, strips of pennies, bun pennies, bring and buy sales, exchange of books and various social activities were all undertaken and finally the first Church in Straight Road was dedicated on Saturday afternoon, 29th April 1939.

           

The Vicar of Romford, the Rev. P. S. Abraham decided the church should he called St. George’s  before his departure to Newfoundland.
During the morning there were the usual last minute panics - Mrs. Marriott driving her van to Gidea Park to collect screws to place on the back of the chairs for hassocks (these seemed to take ages to screw in)  the hassocks which never arrived until the eleventh hour!
At the Dedication there was the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Vicar of Romford and the Priest in Charge and many other clergy. The choir was provided by St. Edward’s Church and there were so many people that they were standing at the back and outside.
There was a big marquee at the side of the church where ladies from. St Edward’s' Church, and St Thomas’ Noak Hill had various stalls. Among the entertainers were the Dagenham Girl Pipers. Unfortunately it was a very wet afternoon and customers were wading around in mud and stallholders standing on planks of wood.
It was still raining very hard the next day and as Miss Phillips had played the piano for Sunday School it was expected that she would play for the services. At that time there was nobody who could play any instrument, so she agreed to play for 2 weeks in the hope that somebody else would be persuaded.  Nobody came forward and consequently 2 weeks extended to 14 years. Various instruments were given, pianos, American organs, pianolas and organolas. People came from Romford to help swell the numbers at the services. After a few weeks a boys choir was formed.
Everything seemed to have taken place there as this was the only hall available. Various organisations connected with the church met regularly. Boys and girls clubs, guides, brownies, scouts, cubs, were all started here, led by Molly and Freda Perry, May Butcher, Ruby Phillips, Joan Avlett Winifred Roper, Geoffrey Clements, Peter Medcraft, Ken Passingham and many others. Most of these had connections with St. Edward’s Church. There was also a Women’s Fellowship.
During the week the chairs were placed at the side, the choir stalls removed, carpet rolled down from one end to the other and the screen pulled down in front of the sanctuary.
Every time there was a service on weekdays or Sundays the chairs, choir stalls and carpet etc. were carefully placed in position and everybody agreed that in spite of difficulties there was a very reverent atmosphere. With so much going on the floor used to get in a bad state so volunteers would stain the floor with permanganate of potash.
The hall was let to the local council for a clinic and at times for outside interests. A Tortoise Stove provided the heat which always had a habit of belching out smoke at the wrong time, especially before the clinic and Mrs Hatt tried desperately to clear the fog by opening windows and doors, and then the mothers would complain about the cold!

 

3. The World At War

3rd September, 1939 - outbreak of war!

Mr. Len Woodcock (now Vicar of Thundersley) was taking Sunday School on this morning, when the first siren was heard - the door opened, mothers swarmed in and grabbed their children leaving teachers speechless!

At the beginning of the war the day schools was closed and the number of children at Sunday School decreased. After a time, schools were opened so Sunday School started again until daylight bombing forced the closing down. After a time, the Education Officer, Mr. Tinker, gave permission for one of the school rooms to be used in Straight Rd School as there were shelters should the necessity arise. Fortunately this never happened.
At the back of the church there was a pond where children would fish for tiddlers, newts and frog spawn. During the winter months this pond would get bigger and eventually came up to the kitchen step but never over it. A bomb fell in the pond one night and the church was closed for a few weeks because some windows were broken.
Parties and socials were great events as there was net much going on in the way of entertainment. Everybody helped by providing some of their rations and there was extra provided by the Food Office after filling in the usual Government forms. Entertainment was usually in the form of games.
On Saturday mornings there were film shows but these did not last long as the chairs were begin­ning to get damaged and broken.

 

Rev Gaze and part of the first St George's Church congregation probably 1944-1948

   


During the summer of 1944 the Rev. F.J. Perry and his family left Romford to go to Highwood and St. George’s was left in the care of the Rev. A.P.A. Gaze, a curate from St. Edward’s Church. Mr. Gaze was also responsible for St. Thomas’ Church, Noak Hill, so many activities were undertaken jointly. The Rustics Dramatic Society and Noak Hill Choral Society were two. He still had connections with St. Edward’s Youth Club so some efforts were combined, especially Nativity Plays and Pantomimes.
Mr. Gaze wrote some of these plays and pantomimes and he used to type out a page or two (often late at night) delivering his copy to Ruby Phillips before going to early service at St. Edward’s.
During the day stencils would be typed and before the rehearsals could start, copies had to be rolled off - in those days by hand roller.
One of the Dramatic Society’s efforts was the performance of Lady Precious Stream in the Priory Garden, Noak Hill - wonderful setting. Among other plays and pantomimes were Kiranda, Quiet Wedding, Rising Generation, Jack and Jill, Cinderella, Little Miss Muffat and Husbands Supplied.

The Choral Society performed musical settings of Merrie England, Princess of Kensington, Emerald Isle, at the Wykeham Hall, Romford, and Olivet to Calvary, Crucifixion, Messiah and Ruth at St George’s and St. Thomas’ as well as part songs at Harvest Suppers. The conductor was Mr. Leonard Jupp, organist at St. Thomas’s Church, Noak Hill.
During the war, the L.C.C. bought all the land (now known as Harold Hill) and prefabs were erected near the church. More children came to Sunday School and classes were held in church, vestries and the kitchen. There were so many small children that they sat on the floor or hassocks as there was no room for chairs. First come had hassocks while others sat on the floor. Mothers didn’t send girls in the summer because their dresses got dirty.

 

N. B. These images were not part of the original Church history booklet.  Below two aerial images from 1946 and 1951. A huge change over 5 years. By 1951 hundreds of prefabs had been erected and roads constructed . The Noak Hill cafe from Pentowan had been transported and erected next to the Church to be used as a Sunday School. The pond out back of the Church was still evident, no doubt the bomb that fell in it during the war only served to make it deeper.     Del Smith.

The scouts and guides etc. had to limit their numbers and had waiting lists. After a time the prefab dwellers were invited to meet the Mayor. The Vicar of Romford, Mr. Gaze, the Mayor and the Town Clerk arrived and no one else. Nobody ever found out what happened at that meeting. With the extra families surrounding the church it was obvious that extra accommodation was needed for Sunday School and organisations.This hall materialized by the transfer of Mr. Hammer’s Noak Hill Cafe to a piece of land next to the church that was originally intended for a permanent church to be built. This hall was officially opened on 11th September 1948.
It was hoped that this hall could be used mostly for secular activities but as it was rather small this did not always work out. To get any light, temporary cable across from the church had to be fixed and when it was windy the light flickered.

4. St. George’s Committee.

The first St. George's Committee was formed 15th April, 1948. The constitution and powers of the committee were as follows:
At a meeting on 15th April 1948, the Vicar of St. Edward’s, Romford, (Rev, F.R.Wright) in his opening remarks stressed the occasion as a land mark in the history of St. George’s.
Mr. Redgrave reported that at a meeting held on 12th April St., Edward’s Parochial Church Council had agreed to the establishment of a St George’s Committee. The Constitution and power of the Committee were then detailed, paragraph by paragraph, by the Vicar and agreed to by the meeting as follows:-

St. George's, (Straight Rd.) Committee Constitution and Election

(1) The committee shall consist of four elected members, each to serve for two years and on the Electoral Roll of the Straight Rd area. The two Deputy Church Wardens, also on the Electoral Roll and appointed by the Church­wardens of St. Edward’s and the Curate-in- Charge for the time being. 
(2) Election shall he by ballot and confined to members of the Electoral Roll for the Straight Rd. area. Each member shall have as many votes as there are vacancies on the Committee; not more than two votes to be given to any one candidate (N.B. At the setting up of the committee, each voter shall have four votes, the two candidates receiving the greater number of votes to serve for two years, the next two candidates for one year)
(3) The Election shall be held at a meeting of the members of the Electoral Roll (the meeting to be public, but voting limited to members of the Electoral Roll). the meeting shall be called “The Annual Church Meeting" and shall be held immediately before the Annual Parish Meeting, after fourteen days’ notice has been given. 
(4) The Vicar of Romford shall be Chairman of the Annual Church Meeting.
(5) The Committee shall' have power to co-opt one other member.

 
        Duties and Powers;
(6) The Committee shall elect, from their number a Chairman and a Secretary. The Secretary shall also serve as Secretary of the Annual Church Meeting.           
(7) The Committee shall elect one of their number to represent  them at meetings of St Edwards Parochial Church Council.
(8) The deputy People’s Warden shall be Assistant Treasurer to the Treasurer of St. Edward's for the receipt of collections and for Petty Cash expenditure. 
(9) The Committee shall meet not less than four times a year. Meetings shall be convened by the Chairman and written notice of all such meetings shall be sent to members by the Secretary at least seven days’ notice being  given.


(10)The Committee shall:


(a) Be responsible for the management, under the Curate-in-Charge9 of St. George's Church and Church Hall.
(b) Ensure the provision of all things needed for the services of the Church.
(c) Be responsible for the appointment of a Caretaker.
(d) Determine (subject to the provisions of the Prayer Book) the object to which moneys collected shall be allocated.
(e) See that all moneys collected in Church are passed through the St. George’s Parish accounts.


(11) Rules of Procedure.
Unless otherwise provided in the resolution  the Rules of Procedure set cut in the Schedule to the Parochial Church Councils (Powers] Measure,1921 shall apply to this Committee


(12)  Sidesmen
Sidesmen shall be elected by the Annual Church Meeting.
The meetings of the Committee were held in the homes of its members.

___________________________________________

 

At the beginning of May, some of the children at Straight Rd. School had a May Day Festival and the following Sunday the children would come to the Sung Eucharist dressed in their costumes. The procession was led by the Jester who would skip into church jingling his bells. This used to upset some of the older members of the congregation who would not come to the service when they knew this was taking place.

The choir boys outing to Southend on Ascension Day was a great occasion for the boys. The boys had to have a special form from the Education Officer signed by the Priest-in-Charge, asking for leave of absence. Naturally the boys had to attend the Sung Eucharist first. There were never any missing on this day. A high tea was provided at the Bull Dog Cafe at Thorpe Bay,where the boys had as many chips as they liked.

.

           For a memoir by the Rev Gaze click here.

In September 1948 Mr. Gaze (opposite with wife and child) left St. George’s and the Rev. D. A. Rhymes. (curate from St. Edward’s) took over. During his short time (only 12 months) various services were introduced, candlelight service at Candlemas (the candle grease is still on some of the cassocks) and parts of the office of Tenebrae during Holy week were two.

On Easter Sunday evening the Bishop of Chelms­ford preached. There was a good congregation. St. Edward’s were asked not to come on this occasion as often families would come from Romford to help.
On Rogation Sunday there was a procession from the church to a garden nearby where an old man always had a cabbage patch. The ground was blessed and everybody waited eagerly for the cabbages to grow. They grew very well, but were all eaten by cater­pillars! Naturally church people were not very popular.

The Rustics performed the pantomime “Sleeping Beauty” and this caused quite a sensation as the King was acted by Mr. Rhymes.

When Mr. Rhymes left  the Rev. W. Maloney took over. He came from the Australian Bush and it was interesting to hear the experiences he and his wife had with the aborigines. He stayed for 12 months too.

 

During Mr. Maloney’s stay a new Sunday School was started in Petersfield Avenue, but this was not continued aslater this area became within St. Paul’s parish.

The Rev. D. Burne came in the following January and stayed just over 12 months. Mr. Burne came with his mother and sister and the L.C.C. provided a house for their use not far from church. During their stay new efforts were made to raise money. One of these was the ’Market’. People brought goods (new or nearly new) to sell and the church had a percentage of the money. This entailed a lot of work as a list had to be made of the names, article price wanted, percentage and then finally the hand out of money or unsold goods. After a time this was stopped as the goods handed in were beginning to resemble things fit for a jumble sale or the dustbin.

In an extract taken from the Minutes of the Annual Church Meeting held on 3rd March 1952 the Vicar of Romford, in saying farewell to Mr. Burne said, "The next Priest who comes would come with the realisation that in the next two or three years this would be a Conventional District independent of St. Edward’s.

The new church would he on a good site for position and was to be built as soon as practicable. The church would have a sanctuary and chapel for use always and a hall for dual purposes with a stage at one end and the sanctuary at the other, a permanent building, but not a permanent church. It would hold 200 - 300 people.
Mr. Burne had been a missionary in Malaya and after a short time in Leicester where he went from St. George's, returned to another part of Malaya.
In May 1952, the Rev, G. Vincent came and stayed for a few months.
During the last few years there were several interregnums and at times there were doubts whether the church would survive, but every effort was made to clear the debt on the church building and this was achieved. During the interregnums St. Michael’s Church Gidea Park, helped out at Evensong ~ Vicar one week and curate the next. The Vicar’s car was stuck in the mud one Sunday evening and he had to get a breakdown lorry to pull it out on the Monday morning... He was never seen again! Fortunately a lay reader, Mr. Baveystock had moved into the district and was able to take Evensong.
Then Mr Gaze was Priest-in-Charge he spent a long time at the County Hall, Westminster, trying to plan Harold Hill. He tried very hard to keep St. George’s in Straight Road, as he could foresee that the land at Gallows Corner and on the other side of Straight Rd. would soon be developed. However, nothing would persuade these officers and in the spring and summer of 1952 various sites were offered by the L.C.C. and finally it was agreed that the Chippenham Rd site would be the best, as the church would be in the centre of the estate.

 

5       The Building of a Church

 The building of a church on the estate caused such excitement as this was the first, so on the afternoon of 13th December, 1952, the Foundation Stone was 1aid by the Bishop of Chelmsford. It was a very dull, cold and foggy afternoon, and everybody was glad the service was not very long. The clergy servers,  robed in a nearby Old People's Clubroom and the procession walking up the road was a very pleasant sight.

There were no shops and not many houses nearby it was very miserable standing on planks of wood and ground sheets or mud. In spite of the weather, a large congregation gathered. After the service refreshments were provided at the church in Straight Road.
Before the Bishop went to Straight Rd somebody appeared from the crowd and asked him to bless his house. This act he very kindly performed.
In January 1953, the Rev. E.R. Bardsley became Priest-in-Charge of St. George’s and he had the responsibility for seeing everything was in order for the Service of Dedication in May.

At the end of January 1953, the O’Hare family emigrated to Australia. They were sadly missed as they were a very capable family. In February 1953, 75 chairs were ordered for the
new church and a suggestion was made that people might give a new chair in memory of a departed friend.

At the annual meeting held on 12th March 1953, it was announced that Mrs. George would he taking over the whole of St. George’s. accounts. The Priest in Charge reported that the number of communions had remained constant and baptisms were about the same. He said that the present congregation did not come from the Estate and the new work would be of a Missionary nature. The Vicar said, it was necessary to have a change in the Constitution and he would ask St. Edward’s to confirm it. It was decided that the New Committee be made up as follows:

The Priest-in-Charge, the two Deputy Church Wardens and Mr. Baveystock as ex-officio, plus eleven members, and power to co-opt up to four.
As to the future, he hoped to have the Church licensed for weddings and he wished to put forward a few facts about finance. That for every year to keep a Priest-in-Charge here, St Edward’s was responsible for nearly £500, £200 would come from St Edward’s, and St. George’s would be responsible for the rest. The Diocese would pay part of the stipend. St. George’s would pay the National Health Insurance and expenses; this would mean St. George’s have to find about £464 per year. It would be necessary to start a Fabric Fund and an Assistant Clergy Fund.
The furnishing of the New Church would be done from the compensation. The debt to St. Edward’s" would be waived. The Vicar said he wished God Speed in the new St George’s Church and thanked all for what they had done in the old Building. The excitement of being in a new Church would more than compensate for the move.
In April 1953 it was reported that a grant had been made of £500 for furnishing the new church. The Arch deacon’s representative had visited the new church and insisted that there must be a pulpit, a new lectern and the font must be erected. Only 4 candles on the altar would he allowed (there were 6 in Straight Rd.) and a frontal would he necessary also a new carpet had to be purchased, 56 more chairs, hymn books, a prayer book and a safe. The £500 didn’t cover all these so there was no safe and no new lectern.

A donation for £20 from St. Edward’s bought a bible for the lectern and a 1928 Prayer Book.
In the Parish Year Book the Rev. S.R. Bardsley said “the architect for the new church is Mr. J.J. Crowe O.B.E., F.R.I.B,A. who has designed other Churches of this nature. It is what is known as a Dual-purpose Church and Hall combining both under one roof. The reason for this, like so much else these days is a financial one. It was not possible to find the money for a Church and Hall, so something was designed which would, meet both requirements and yet not be too costly. As it was the present building and furnishings cost about £15000; of that sum nearly half was contributed by our Mother Church, St. Edward’s, Romford and the remainder by the Diocese, which was facing the tremendous task and problem of providing Churches on many  housing areas in Essex.
The last services held at Straight Road were on Sunday, 24th May. This was a sad occasion for the families who had been there from the beginning and agree with the new church being called St. George’s. However on Whit Monday the final removal took place. Youngsters going to and fro with small parcels, a car was used for crockery, glass, etc. and a horse and cart for chairs and heavy goods. Incidentally the horse survived for many years after his trek backwards and forwards on this day!

6.  The Service of Dedication - May 26th 1953

Finally the great, day arrived - Tuesday, 26th May, 1953. A church everybody had waited for, costing £12,000 was dedicated by the Bishop of Chelmsford (Dr. Faulkner Allison).
A new church of modern design, an altar at end and a stage and dressing rooms at the other was considered to be the best equipped building on Harold Hill. The single bell was once the one used at the Lady Chapel of the old Noak Hill Mansion (lady Neave’s former home at Dagnam Park). It was cleaned and renovated but it’s. tone unaltered.
At the dedication service there were several well-known people, Chairman of the L.C.C. Mr. Reginald Stamp, Chairman of the Housing Committee, the Mayor of Romford, Ald. Mrs.
L.A. Irons, the Mayoress, Mrs. A.Tozer, the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress, Ald. and Mrs. G. Roberts, Lt. Col. J.C. Lockwood, M.P.for Romford, and Mrs. Lockwood, the Town Clerk, Mr. J._Twinn; Visiting Clergy included Canon J. Elvin, Rev. A.P.A. Gaze, Puttenham, Guildford, Rev. D.A. Rhymes Southwark Cathedral, Rev. F.D. Burne, Gadby, Leicester, Rev. J.C. Tross, Bow. There were masses of people.

 There was nearly a walk out by the choir of St. George’s as St. Edward’s choir were asked to lead the procession from the Old People's Club-room. Eventually the Vicar of Romford was the peacemaker by explaining that the Romford Church was the Mother Church but the grievance went on for a long time as St. George’s choir maintained it was their church.

The Church Army installed an amplifier so the service could be heard outside. Children were on the steps outside the vestry taking everything in. After the service the screen was pulled across the sanctuary and everybody had the chance to chat and eat.

At the first Holy Communion service on Wednesday morning, there were a number of visitors who had stayed overnight.

7 . All things new

Being a new Church everything had to start afresh,  new register of services, new minute book, new electoral roll. The new electoral roll seemed pointless as the people who had been attending the church in Straight Rd for years and lived outside the parish had to attend the new church for 6 months before they could be on the roll. 'This was very embarrassing as most of the people on the Church Committee lived outside the parish.
Romford Council took over the church in Straight Rd and after a time this was known as Waverley Hall.
The first wedding in the first church on the ??? took place on 30th May 1953.
Capt. Chambers and a team from the Church Army conducted a mission in September and October, 195? There were house meetings, extra church meetings in fact every day there was something taking place. At the social gathering everything was crazy - card games, crazy hats and crazy brains trust.
At the Harvest Supper the Vicar of St. Edward Church, Romford said "Now you are on your own. A great day for myself and the churchwardens who accompanied me here from St. Edward’s to attend the church as visitors. He added that this was a s??? that the church was on its feet and he expressed pride in having been in at its beginning. ”I feel
that all of you here and many others as well have found a centre for your life at Harold Hill. You couldn’t have found a better centre than the Church of God.” He ended by congratulating the Rev. E.R. Bardsley and all of those present on their work for St. George’s.

Rev. E.R. Bardsley replied "But for the work done by St. Edward’s and the money contributed by them, we wouldn’t have this church or this Harvest Supper. The success of the mission can be gauged by the fact that at Evensong on Sunday 240 people attended the Church for the Harvest Festival Service, whereas at normal Sunday services in the past, there have been only about 70 in the congregation.”

 At the end of the mission a torchlight procession was held round the streets of the estate before evensong. This procession was led by the cross, banner and many church members - quite a sensation in those days.
The Vicar enlarged the choir by having young ladies and Mrs. Bardsley, senior, spent hours on the sewing machine making new cassocks and surplices for these girls. Those were ready in time for the Harvest Festival services.

 A new pianist, Mr. Geoffrey Roberts, arrived In September. He lived at Forest Gate and he and Mrs. Betty Roberts would travel to Romford by Green Line coach and bring Catherine their daughter, in a carrycot and leave her on the stage. Eventually they moved to Romford. The Bardsleys and Roberts came from the North of England so it wasn’t long before they enjoyed each other’s company and plans started to raise money for a new organ.
The Sunday Schools grew and on the anniversary
of the dedication there was a special Sunday School anniversary service. The church choir was enlarged with children from Sunday School and they would sing special songs.  At the end of the service There was a grand procession of everybody joining in .with hymns such as “Lift High the Cross” and "Forward' be our Watchword” - all 8 verses - and sung with great enthusiasm. On one occasion the Bishop of Barking preached.
Mr. Bardsley was chairman of the Romford Deanery Sunday School Teachers Association and Quiet Afternoon often took place at St. George’s.

8. The Birth of a Parish

St. George’s became separated from St. Edward’s in 1956 and the following appeared in the London Gazette 11th September 1956 -
At the Court at Balmoral The 30th day of August 1956
Present  The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty in Council.

 Whereas the Church Commissioners have duly prepared and laid before Her Majesty in Council a Scheme bearing this l6th day of August 1956 in words and figures following, that is to say:-
We the Church Commissioners, acting in pursuant of the New Parishes Measure, 1943 have prepared and now lay before Your Majesty in Council the following Scheme for constituting a new parish to be taken out of the parish of Romford in the diocese of Chelmsford.

Scheme

”Whereas we, the Church Commissioners, are. satisfied that the spiritual interests of the area defined in Schedule hereto and delineated on the map hereto annexed would be best served by constituting it a new parish.
Now, therefore, with the consent of the Right Reverend  Falkner, Bishop of Chelmsford (in testimony whereof
has set his hand and affixed his episcopal seal to this Scheme we the said - Church Commissioners do humbly recommend and propose as follows, that is to say:-

I.  Constitution

  (a) As from the date of the licence thereto of a Minister the area defined in the Schedule hereto and delineated on the map hereto annexed shall be a separate-district for spiritual purposes.
(b) As from the date of the consecration of a church within the area, approved by us, the said Church Commissioners, as suitable to be a parish church or if the church is consecrated before, such approval, the date of the approval, the said area shall become a new parish.
(c) The name of the district (or parish as the
case may be) shall be The District (or Parish) of saint George, Harold Hill.

2. Archdeaconry and Rural Deanery

The parish shall be in the Archdeaconry of East Ham and in the rural deanery of Romford.

The Schedule

The area comprising :-
’’All that part of the parish of Romford, which is bounded on the southwest by the parish of St. Michael, Gidea Park, on the southeast by the parish of Saint Peter, Harold Wood, on the north East by the district of Saint Paul, Harold Hill, and on the remaining sides by a continuous imaginary line commencing on the boundary which divides the parish of Romford from the district of Saint Paul, Harold Hill, at a point in the middle of Noak Hill road, opposite the northern end of Noak Hill Drive aid continuing thence south westwards along the middle of the said Noak Hill Road and along the middle of Ash Lane to the point where the last mentioned lane turns north eastwards and continuing thence in a straight line due south for a  distance of 34 chains or thereabouts to the boundary which divides the parish of Saint Michael Gidea Park from the parish of Romford." And whereas the provisions of the New Parishes Measure 1943 relating to the preparation and submission of this Scheme has been duly complied with: And whereas the said Scheme has been approved by Her Majesty in Council.

Now therefore Her Majesty, by and with the advice Her said Council is pleased hereby to ratify the said Scheme, and to order and direct that the same and ever part thereof shall be effectual in law immediately upon the publication of this Order in the London Gazette pursuant to the said Measure.
And Her Majesty, by and with the like advice, is pleased hereby to direct that this Order be forthwith regist­ered by the Registrar of the said diocese of Chelmsford.
W G Agnew

In 1956 the L.C.C. agreed to build a parsonage house as the Priest in charge until this time lived in a Council House at 147 Farringdon Ave, Harold Hill, and an application was made to the Diocese for a grant The cost of building the house was £5,358, including Architect’s fee. A grant was made by the Diocese of £2,158 and the balance of £3,200 was raised by a mortgage from the Borough of Romford and the repayments paid by the L.C.C. and was occupied by Rev E.R. Bardsley and his family in January 1957. The fence around the Parsonage House was completed in 1959 by members of the congregation and cost £71.11.10d. of which the Diocese granted £50.

24-31 August 1957 was the week of the Parish holiday at a School at Eastbourne-. On arrival it was found the kitchen was very old and dirty and the cook and her helper had to have a good clean up before any cooking could be done. There was a rota for laying the tables and washing up so that nearly everybody had a job to do. Ruby Phillips extra job- making early morning tea. The kettle was so furred that it would take nearly 45 minutes to get enough water to make
cups of tea. There was a communion service every morning (124- communions were made) and Compline  said each evening. In spite of the difficulties an enjoyable holiday was had by all. A number of friendships were made on this holiday and later marriages.
On September 28th 1957 a 21st party was held for Ruby Phillips who had been associated with  St. George's since 1936. At this party priests were invited who had helped at services visiting  Sunday School etc. Of course there is a catch - raise some cash!
For several months there was an epidemic of Asian flu and services and activities all suffered.
Sometime in 1957 the church was broken into and various articles were damaged including the church  banner so on 19th January 1958 a new banner was dedicated and a pageant The Light of the World”  was performed by the children.
There were several plays performed during the Bardsley’s time, including "But once a year", ’The 'White Sheep of the Family”, “The Holly and the Ivy”, “Queen Elizabeth Slept Here”, ’Here we come Gathering” , ”For Better or Worse” and "The Vigil”.
In July 1958 the Rev. E.R. Bardsley and his family left and Mr. Bardsley became Vicar of St. John’s Moulsham, Chelmsford.

9.      1958 – 1965

After a short interregnum (3 months) Rev. J.Crump was licensed Priest-in-Charge by the Bishop of Barking.
During the interregnum about 12 members of the congregation redecorated the church.
An organ fund was launched in 1959 and it was hoped the organ would to installed by St. George’s Day I960. This was achieved by donations, 'bring and buy sales, model of an organ pipe and collecting and selling waste paper. The paper was stacked on the stage and sorted out mainly by Mr. & Mrs. Moore. These two spent hours separating sheets and tying up bundles waiting to be collected. If the Insurance Company had seen the stage the premiums would probably have been doubled !!
In March I960 magazine, the Vicar wrote “we at St. George’s need the guidance and wisdom of God very much at this time, as I960 will be a key year in the life of the Church here. Everybody has made such a wonderful effort towards the Organ Fund that we now have over £400 in hand. We had £50 this time last year. Please thank God for this and pray for the officers of the Church who now have to decide on the organ, and the details of its instal­lation.

We have at last had definite news, too, about the Hall, and the conversion of the present building to a permanent Church. I have been able to announce to the P.C.C. that the Diocese have made us generous grants towards the cost of this development and we have all decided to go ahead. Now this is wonderful news for the parish, and will involve a great deal of work and thought.

This will mean raising some £200 a year more over the next ten years at least, which means that our present effort for the Organ will have to continue, but we shall achieve it. It will be a wonderful thing to have a permanent church at last, and a hall.

Plenty here to think and pray about during Lent! Our gratitude to the other Churches of the Diocese who will play a part here too as they will be pouring something like another £7,000 into this parish.
The organ arrived in April 1960 and was dedicated by the Archdeacon of West Ham, The Venerable J. E. Elvin on the 1st May 1960 (S S Philip and James Day) The total cost of the organ was £505.
Although the organ was still being paid for another fund was started. This time for a hall. There were individual collecting boxes, a model of the hall in church, farthings collected by children,  socials, etc.
| In the July 1962  magazine, Mr. Crump wrote  It is still quite-startling to have many people still asking ’What is that hole at the end of the Church for?! It is the site of our new Church Hall, which will be finished sometime during October. The cost is almost £9,000 of which we have to raise £3,000. The present building will be later converted and consecrated as the Parish Church for this district.
Money for the furnishing of the Hall, and for the Church will also have to be raised, so we shall need all the help we can muster during the next few years. Please give yours realistically. A most important practical job which needs to be done during the Summer and Autumn is general cleaning up, levelling and maintenance of the site.
The church hall was opened and dedicated by the Archdeacon of West Ham, The Venerable J. E. Elvin on Thursday, 15th November, 1962, the total cost of the Hall being £9,652. The grant from the Diocese, the sale of the land, facing Kings Lynn Drive and the mortgage on the Parsonage House was £6,652 and the P.C.C. was granted a loan by the Diocese of £3,000 to be repaid in ten years at £300 per year plus interest.
During Mr. Crump's time there were several new ventures, e.g. parish fellowship - a fortnightly meeting for church members for instruction and discussion groups.

The first interdenominational service took place at St. George’s during the Week of Christian Unity and later there was a study group to discuss ecumenical work.

To help the missionaries, Mrs. Crump used to collect various articles to send to S.P.G for the hospital bale. This parcel included among other things, knitted baby vests in very bright colours Miss Bailey knitted a number of these.

1964 was the jubilee year (50 years) of Chelmsford Diocese and a number of brochures and lapel crosses were bought through the perseverance of Ronald English. One still sees those lapel crosses worn.
In the March 1964 magazine, the Vicar wrote it was four years ago this month that I announced in the Magazine that we had received generous grant from the Diocese towards our Hall and Church conversion. We have our Hall, and wo are now entering on the last most important stage of final alterations to the Church for its consecration. Our builder is due to start work on Monday 2nd March and the work will continue for about twelve weeks. We shall obviously be put to some inconvenience and difficulty, during this time, so please be willing to give a helping hand when necessary.

To keep costs down, the Vicar was helping to the stage of the hall and unfortunately he had a fall and hurt his back and was in Harold Wood Hospital for several weeks. This happened at Lent and Easter (one of the busiest times of the year) but the majority of services took place.

The builder progressed satisfactorily with the church conversion and the consecration of St. G’ Harold Hill, by the Bishop of Chelmsford was fixed for Friday 10th July 1964, but was cancelled owing to the full legal requirements not having been completed.
The date was finally fixed for Saturday, 14th November 1964, at 3.0 p.m.

Below a photo of the event kindly provided by Don Tait from his archives and not part of the original document.

Thus was seen the fulfilment of many hopes and longings of the past 25 years and the concentrated work of the past five years. It was a great joy to have the Bishop of Chelmsford set aside St. George's as the first Parish Church of Harold Hill, and to have with us several church folk associated with St. George's from, the beginning of its work.

The cost of the conversion  builders bill £3,228.6s.8d. Diocesan grant £2,000 - parish £1,228.6s.8d.

St. George’s have always had a reliable band of willing workers and the following work was undertaken at the time of the Conversion:
Retaining Wall to southwest corner of the Church owing to a subsidence due to the excavations of the Hall site
Paving stones etc.       £235.10s.
Vicarage, Garage        £74.10s.7d
Hall, Fire Equipment, cupboards, chairs, stage and lighting for same. Floor above vestibule and Ranch fence,£333.5s.
Church, Font Alterations to Pulpit and Choirstalls, Lighting Globes for Baptistry. Architect's Fee £486.1s.5d.
South fence, 107 ft. x 6 ft. weatherboard, West fence, chain- link. £111.5s.    TOTAL  £1241.12s.
We were very grateful when an anonymous donor gave £1,000 towards this cost.
The Rev. John Crump left St. George's for a living at Highams Park on 1st October 1965 and

in November 1965 we welcomed to the Parish Rev and Mrs. Andrew Robert de Pury and their family The Rev. Andrew Robert de Pury B.D. was inducted as Vicar of the Parish on Friday 26th November 1965 by the Bishop of Chelmsford (Right Rev. John Tiarks, M.A.).
Before Mr. de Pury came a circular was sent to past and present members and to houses in roads near the church, informing them of the arrangements during the interregnum.

10.       1965 – 1972

The Rev, A.R. de Pury was instituted as Vicar on 26th Nov. 1965. The Sunday School was small numbers and it wasn’t long before Mrs. de Pury started a primary school and later a bible class. Gradually the numbers increased.
At one of the 'Mothers Union meetings, Miss Cowmead from Loughton gave a demonstration of “Do it yourself hassocks". After this talk, Mrs de Pury organized a sowing party and the materials wore purchased and work was started on making hassocks. March 1970 finished hassocks number 35, in April 1974 46, and they are still being made. Mrs. Claire Victory's special handiwork can be seen in the altar rail hassocks.

 

A few people spent a successful weekend at Parish Life Conference at Clacton.

With the Bishop’s permission Mr. Geoffrey Roberts was given authority to administer the cup at the Communion Service and this authority has now been passed on to Mr. Charles Wells and Mr. Reg Victory. This is a great help to everybody.
On the whole St. George’s congregation are adaptable and once again a new Communion Service had to be tried (Series II).
Also the Vicar suggested experimental changes for 5 months. This involved the altar being moved forward and one never knew from one Sunday to the next what the next move would be. The organ and choir have been in the sanctuary, the baptistry, and in the main part of the church. The chairs have had their move too.

An Old People’s Home in the parish was opened in 1966 and St. George’s were asked to conduct an evening service on 2 Sundays a month. This extended to a Communion Service once a month and these services have been carried out ever since.

With reference to Church Unity, there was exchange of services with the Congregational Church and another time Mr. de Pury preached at the Romford Salvation Army Citadel. Groups also met in people’s homes in connection with the People Next Door Campaign. This led to leaflets being prepared by the Vicar and the Minister of Heaton Way Congregational Church and those were delivered by members from both churches just before Christmas to houses on the new Heaton Estate. These visits were well received.

Six week session study group meetings to report on Anglican-Methodist Unity were also held at the Vicarage.
One year a small exhibition showing the Church’s work our own activities, U.S.P.G. Feed the Minds, Church Army etc. was held at the time of the Church's Anniversary.

A junior club called “Discoverers" was started by Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Baker but did not last long. These two ladies gave a lot of time to this work, but the youngsters lost interest.
Contact was made with a Children’s Home with the result that four children were baptized and church members were godparents.

Havering Council of Churches agreed to have a Mission for a fortnight wherein each church planned their own project. St. George’s chose house visiting. Mr. Toombs produced a leaflet about the church and its activities and this was used in visiting during Lent as a preliminary to the Key Fortnight. Later Mr. Toombs held renewal groups with some young interested people and 5 areas on the new estate were visited.
The de Pury family left St. George’s in April 1972 to go to Grendon Underwood, Aylesbury. This time there was a 6 month interregnum and once again St. Michael’s Gidea Park provided staff so that most of the services took place.

11.       1972 – 1974

The Rev. John Francis Price was inducted Vicar 27th October 1972 by the Bishop of Barking. One of the first things the Vicar did was to call a parish meeting so he had the opportunity of meeting people and later gave a short talk about his plans. This meeting was well attended' and everyone was asked to write down what they thought priorities should be.

Later the Vicar sent letters to every house in the parish introducing himself, welcoming the residents to church and asking if a visit was required to fill in a small form. The response was good and a few lapsed members returned but most asked for a visit.
The Vicar has only been at St. George’s for a short time but all ages are catered for.

There is the Pram Service where mothers have a short service and then go into the hall for tea and chat. Crèche and Sunday School, Brownies, Cubs and Guides; Young Georgians - group of youngsters interested in singing - Church choir; Youth Club, Young Wives; Ladies Choir; St George’s Visitors; Ladies Meeting; Women’s Fellowship.
The Young Georgians sing mostly at concerts and swell the Church Choir for special events,
but on 10th February 1974 they sang Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at Kingsley Hall, Dagenham. The youngsters conducted the service. The smallest child always seems to be chosen to announce hymn numbers.

The Church Choir is affiliated to R.S.C.M. and it is a pleasure to see the youngsters staying behind after choir practice, training for their badges. They have sung various anthems and at Passiontide, 1974 the choir from St. Paul's Church Harold Hill joined forces and Handel's Passion of Christ was sung at the 2 churches and at 2 Old People’s Homes.

The Youth Club meets on Sunday morning after the church service. The usual indoor and outdoor activities Take place but something new was the Youth Weekend now number 2.

They have visiting speakers, discussions, outings, eat together, parties and conduct youth services. In 1973 some camped out on the grass at the side of the church. A few the first night, and more the second. some were disappointed in 1974, as camping was impossible as the builders were using the land. This was because an Extension was being made to the Vicarage, and the new wing (completed in September 1974 by Mr. Payment and his son) is a great asset, providing as it does a new meeting room for the Church. The Ladies
Choir usually meet once a week at the Vicarage and have sung at church services and concerts.

St. George’s Visitors are a band of volunteer who visit the lonely, aged, housebound etc. Some of these lonely people, have enjoyed outings to Marks Tey and East Bergholt (homes of former church members).

Members of all these clubs help at socials, jumble sales and bazaars.

Something new to St. George’s was the introduction of non-confirmed people kneeling at the altar rail for a blessing at the Communion Service. Children going to the Altar has been seen for a long time.

Another new venture was the confirmation  rotr?? at Gt Burstead. This takes place a week before the confirmation service which in 1974 was conducted by the Bishop of Barking at St. George’s, St. Paul’s Church also had their service with us.


Below two photographs of the interior from Don Tait's collection. Date uncertain but probably 60s or 70s.

      

There have been interesting meetings with other churches. The P.C.Cs of St. George’s, St Thomas’ Noak Hill met the P.C.C. of St. Paul’s Church when a good discussion took place and the usual good eats.

Another time, Father Roche, from St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church and Rev. Francis Ackroyd, Minister of the Congregational Church, with members of their congregations came to St. George’s. There was some musical entertainment and afterwards the Vicar, Father Roche and Mr. Ackroyd each gave a short talk on their work. Later questions were asked from the audience and of course, refreshments.

Christmas 1973 a party of carol singers went singing in aid of the Children’s Society and a Children's Holiday Fund. In the course of going; round the streets in the parish, 3 public houses
were visited - in two the singers wore well received and the response was good - in the third the landlord said “we’re too busy and there’s no room” This was Christmas Eve.
St. George’s congregation were invited to the evening service at the Baptist Church during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This evening certainly made history. There were so many cars outside that a coach was unable to got along the read and a traffic jam resulted. Someone came into church (in the middle of the Vicar’s sermon) to ask if some cars could be moved.

Later in the week we were invited to a Mass at St. Dominic’s. This was an interesting service, but only the Catholics received the sacrament.

Good Friday saw another occasion when churches, united. After a service in church there was a procession through the shopping centre led by a man carrying a large cross. On the return the cross stood in front of the church and the people stood and listened to part of the Good Friday story by Dorothy Sayers and finally knelt to join in the hymn "When I survey the wondrous Cross”. Although some of the onlookers were very impressed it was noticeable the amount of shoppers who tried to hide their shopping bags. Did they feel guilty?

The Jubilee Year for the Diocese (1974). In connection with the Bishop’s Call to Mission, St. George’s priority for the same year “The Year with our Lord” and the following resolution was sent to the local Council of Mission and Unity and to the Bishop.

Resolution;  We, the Parochial Church Council of St. George, Harold Hill, remembering that Jesus called His disciples that they might be with Him, and that they might be sent out hereby resolve that 1974 shall be ”A Year with our Lord”  
and that we seek to draw (a) committed members of the Church, (b) those with whom our Church has been in recent contact, and (c) all who live in this parish, to a closer relationship with our Lord during the coming year.

So, Lord Jesus. Christ, by our prayers, our lives and our activities, may we come to know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day. Amen.

A coachload consisting of people of all ages went to Debden (near Saffron Walden and Thaxted) for the Diocesan Family Day. This could have been very enjoyable but it rained hard all day and It was cold and miserable. Instead of the events taking place in the grounds they wore held in the hangars. There were over 8,000 people taking part in a Communion Service, listening to the youth orchestra and the Army Band (Juniors). Children were well catered for in their own hangars.
26th May 1974 St. George’s 21st anniversary in its present building. This was a special occasion and celebrated by a grand dinner. Past and present members wore invited, also clergy from other church. The special guest was the Rev. Hoy Bardsley (Priest in charge in 1953) who also preached at the Family Service on Sunday morning. After the dinner a cabaret was held. Some of the guests were still talking in the early hours of the morning.
Bazaars, socials, etc. have all been held to pay off some of the debts and early 1974 an anonymous donor was kind enough to pay off the debt on the h??? and although for a short time there were no appeal funds it was not long before a new one was formed. A Window Fund was launched at the dinner and the money is gradually coming in. How much is required to make St. George’s windows look more like a church. Approximately £900 at the moment.

Harvest Suppers, Socials and Concerts are very popular. Somebody usually manages to write an up to date song about various people and the latest activities. One of these, “The St. George’s Saga” is printed at the conclusion of this book.

There have been several outings over the years; Guildford, Coventry, Canterbury, Winchester and Ely Cathedrals, Woburn Abbey, Margate, Walton-on-the-Naze, and Westcliff, and Chessington Zoo.

A much needed Lady Worker, Miss W van Dongen arrived in September 1974 and everybody looked forward to her coming. She has settled in very quickly and is making many friends as shy visits the homes of our parishioners.
A party of 66 (including members of other churches) enjoyed a parish holiday at the Mount Royal Hotel, Rhos-on-Sea, Colwyn Bay, from 17th/24th August 1974. The new Lady Worker was able to come too, so she was able to get to know a few people.

Some travelled by car and others by coach to Euston Station, train to Colwyn Bay and coach to Rhos-on-Sea. Those who went by car had easy journeys, while the railway passengers (after being jostled about by football supporters) had a very easy and comfortable journey too.

It was disappointing for all when Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Wells and their boys were unable to go as one of the children had chickenpox.

There were other families staying in the hotel and it was noticeable how St. George's youngsters soon became friendly with the other young people. Table Tennis seemed to occupy every spare minute and it was good to see the enthusiasm for the tournament.

A short service in the lounge before breakfast was appreciated and well attended and it was a pleasure to see others joining in too.

Rhos has a good sandy beach so there was cricket played, plenty of swimming and the making of sand castles for those who wished, while others enjoyed looking at new surroundings or travelling around locally.

Visits were made by car to Conwy Castle (new spelling of town); the Gt Orme, Llandudno; Aber Falls, Llanberi and Lake Crafnart where the road was narrow and winding that you travelled 10 yards and had to go back 2 yards to let another car pass. Some ventured to go in the cable car up the Gt Orme. Eiras Park was another popular place as there was a boating lake, all sorts of amusements and a Mountain Zoo.
An organised coach tour to Snowdonia was arranged and enjoyed by all (including other guests). The  usual places were visited, Conway, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogorychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Carnarvon; Llanberis, Swallow Falls, and Betws-y-Coed. Some had a ride on the small train beside the lake at Llanberis; others visited the railway museum while a few took the opportunity to do some shopping.
A coach on the last night to Llandudno for a visit to two theatres (Gaslight for some, while others enjoyed Showtime) was the climax before packing ready for home the next morning.

 

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As some of the records are missing, memory has played a large part in producing this book. Apologies from the Editors for anything that has been omitted.