Christ Church - Online History

The following history is drawn from a booklet: "Christ Church, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire - a short history by Jack Edwards." (Revised Edition 15th May 1978) with additional contributions from members of the congregation.

DOUBFUL BEGINNINGS

On the fifteenth of March 1827 the Cheshunt Parish Vestry under the chairmanship of the Vicar, the Reverend Matthew Morris Preston, passed the following resolution:

"It is desirable that a Chapel-of-Ease be built in the neighbourhood of Waltham Cross... capable of holding not less than five hundred people, nor more than six hundred. The Vestry is willing to raise by loan the sum of one thousand pounds towards the expenses and will repay by instalments by a rate of three pence in the pound... and (proposes) that a subscription be entered into in furtherance of the same purpose."

Seven months later a letter was sent by the Vestry to the Commissioners for Church Building giving the following reasons for wishing to build a chapel-of-ease:
1. The population of Cheshunt Parish in 1821 was 4376 and is now nearly 6000
2. The Parish church can only seat 921
3. There is no consecrated chapel in the Parish
4. More than a thousand people in Waltham Cross are distant from the Parish Church

The Commissioners agreed to grant £1500 towards the cost of land and building, but reported that it had received a letter from a Mr. John Jessup questioning the legality of levying a Parish rate for such a purpose; several parishioners had also objected. Their cause was successfully fought by Mr. William Harrison, a Queen's Counsel and Attorney-General to the Duchy of Cornwall. Mr. Harrison was living at Cheshunt Cottage in, Water Lane; the house is now known as the Old Grange, in College Road.

The Vestry then suggested raising the £1000 needed by subscription, and this was put into effect.
In June 1828 a testimonial of appreciation to Mr. Harrison appears in the Cheshunt Vestry minutes "for successfully resisting the imposition of a rate for building the Chapel-of-Ease". This was signed by the 180 ratepayers of whom 36 subscribed to the fund.
The Chapel Built & Consecrated - 1833
Trinity Chapel was consecrated and opened in the Spring of 1833.

The Rev'd William Bolland was the first Minister of Trinity Chapel and there is a Monument on the right hand Nave wall erected to his memory.

The building cost £3000 which was made up as follows:
Grant from the Commissioners for Church Building - £1500
Money raised from subscriptions - £800
Gift from Reverend M.M. Preston - £700

HOLY TRINITY SCHOOL

In 1841 Mr. Preston gave a parcel of land at the rear of Trinity Chapel to provide a site for a school. This was built and opened that year.

Before coming to Cheshunt in 1825 he had run a private school at Cambridge, and among his pupils had been Thomas Carlyle, and Thomas Babington Macauley the celebrated historian.

Between 1826 and 1836 he had also founded a girls' school and an infants school in Churchgate, and later was allowed to visit the Robert Dewhurst Boys' School once a week to give religious instruction.

A PARISH CHURCH - 1854

From 1850 the congregation of Trinity Chapel began to hold meetings of the "renters of pews". On 29th September 1854 they insured the church as "Holy Trinity" the Parish Church of Waltham Cross. Vestry Meetings were held from 1855 and in that year the Reverend James Thomas was appointed Vicar; he was succeeded by the Reverend K.M. Brandon in 1862

MONEY TROUBLES

All through this period the church faced financial crises. In 1869 there was a special meeting to "raise funds for defraying the expenses of carrying on Divine Service". The following year the gas bill was queried! In spite of all this, in 1874 the church was restored and (unfortunately) the windows of tinted glass were added. This must have placed a strain on the finances which show deficits of between two shillings and a penny and twenty eight pounds during the next eleven years. It was not until 1906 that a credit balance was achieved, and even this was exceptional since more deficits were incurred until 1919.

WALTHAM NEW TOWN AND ST CYPRIAN'S CHURCH

The same year as the church restoration, 1874, a second school was opened, this time in Waltham New Town: it is now part of Holdbrook School. Nine years later the Reverend Hudson Davies was appointed Vicar, and during his incumbency St. Cyprian's Church at Waltham New Town was built and opened.

In 1898 Thomas Best was appointed Verger to Trinity Church, a post he was to hold until 1953.

In 1904 the Reverend Percy Wonnacott succeeded Mr. Davies, and two years later the vestry was built on to the south side of the Church (now the Hall).

The next Vicar was the Reverend H.N.Eales, who was appointed in 1911 and who four years later encouraged the enlargement of the Church by the addition of a chancel and Lady Chapel. During the alterations, services were held in the near-by Trinity Hall.

THE FIRST WORLD WAR

The activity of enemy Zeppelins locally during 1916 necessitated special insurance of the building against aircraft risk. In 1920 The Reverend Edgar A. Jones was appointed priest-in-charge, and in that year Mr. Eales died. A stained glass window to his memory was placed in the Lady chapel.

INNOVATIONS

The same year (1920) brought The Reverend Thomas Henry Woods Barker to the Parish and with him a fresh approach to the conduct of church life and worship. He established a Parochial Church Council, and urged more participation in the Rural Deanery Conferences with the delegates properly reporting back to the Parish.

In 1922 he expressed surprise at the large numbers of people seen returning home from the newly opened Cedars Park on Sunday evenings instead of being at the evening service in church: he sought permission from the Urban District Council to hold services in or near the park.

In 1923 he proposed that electric light should be installed in the church, and this was done in 1924. He also urged parishioners to remove their names from 'rented' pews. In the same year clergy stalls were added in memory of Mr. E.J. Woolard and Mr. Horsey, both of whom had been churchwardens.

Mr. Barker also encouraged more interest in missionary work, particularly the support of the Holy Cross Mission in East Pondoland.

In 1925 he inaugurated a special committee to arouse the interest of parishioners in Church Day Schools and arranged a special visit from the Bishop of St. Albans to support him in this field.

The following year a carved altar front was placed in the Lady chapel (and was later moved to St. Cyprian's).

A GAP IN THE RECORDS: 1926 - 1953

The Vestry Minutes for the years 1926 to 1953 are missing, but from the Marriage Registers we learn that the Reverend Cyril W. Jackson became the incumbent in 1929 and was succeeded by the Reverend Reginald Edwards, formerly curate at Cheshunt, in 1932.

In 1934 the church was altered and restored. The old gallery was taken down and the porch added at a total cost of £1200.

The old Trinity Hall became in danger of collapsing and was closed to public use at the end of the following year.

In 1937 the organ was fitted with an electric blower.

THE NEW HOLY TRINITY SCHOOL

Reginald Edwards retired in 1945 and his place was taken by Jack Catterick, a forceful character. He achieved publicity in the press not long after arriving by starting a Fathers' Club, which met at the "Queen's Head" pub in Eleanor Road. Regular weekly parish meetings at the Vicarage on a Friday were also a feature of church life under Father Jack, which were always well attended and at which anything and everything came up for discussion.

Plans were also drawn up for a new Church School, and the foundation stone for the present Holy Trinity School was laid by the Bishop of St. Albans on 22nd September 1951. The school opened the following year.

The oak choir screen was also removed, which effectively opened up the interior of the church.

CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

In 1953 Edward Norfolk became Vicar, and two years later the parish celebrated its centenary. A Civic Service was held on 25th September, to which the Bishop came. There was also an exhibition of parish history at the public library, and a parish dinner rounded off a week of special activities.

The site of the old Trinity Hall was sold the same year for £750. In 1956 the bell turret was rebuilt and the following year the rood cross from the removed screen was hung beneath the chancel arch in memory of Thomas Best.

CHRISTIAN STWEARDSHIP AND CHRISTIAN AID

The money problem still remained, and The Reverend Ronald Jefferyes who came to Waltham Cross in 1959 saw the start of a Christian Giving scheme which he described as "an opportunity for evangelism as well as money getting". "The parish also joined in house to house collecting for Christian Aid Week and considerable interest was shown in World Refugee Year activities.

There was a fire in the church, believed to have been started by vandals setting light to the straw in the Christmas Crib. Vandalism was to become a recurring problem affecting the building.

The Christian Giving campaign bore fruit, and parish income doubled.

ANGILCAN AND METHODIST SHARING AGREEMENT

In 1963 the PCC voted in favour of the proposed union between the Church of England and the Methodist Church, and at a local level the beginnings of a coming together was evidenced by the fact that from 1960 breakfast after the Sunday Parish Communion was held in a room lent by Cheshunt Methodists in their church just up the road. Prior to that the old school had been used for this.

103 Northfield Road was bought for housing a curate; the price paid was £2,500. That same year the press attended the Annual Church meeting as an experiment in public relations.

MEMORIAL GIFTS

A bronze relief of 'The Last Supper', cast in the parish, was given in memory of the Reverend T.H.W. Barker, and Mr. C. Cooper, a former headmaster of Holy Trinity School (sadly this was stolen from the Church in the 1980's).

A library was built and stocked at Holy Trinity School in memory of Mr. George Green, who had also been headmaster.

In 1966 the lectern Bible was given in memory of Mr. Harrow.

PEOPLE NEXT DOOR

The parish joined in an ecumenical Lent exercise, the first of its kind, called 'The People Next Door'. There were united services in connection with this at Cheshunt School, and some vigorous inter-Church house groups.

In 1967 the new form of Holy Communion service, known as Series 2, was introduced.

A new, smaller Deanery (i.e. a group of parishes) was created in 1968 out of the large Deanery of Ware. It was to be called “Cheshunt Deanery” and comprises the parishes of Cheshunt, Waltham Cross, Turnford, Rye Park, Cuffley & Northaw, Broxbourne & Wormley, Hoddesdon, Goffs Oak.

NEW DEVELOPMENT: HOLDBROOK & CLOSURE OF ST CYPRIAN'S

Many of the old houses in Waltham New Town were demolished and a new development known as Holdbrook was completed in 1969.

St. Cyprian's Church, which for a time had been served by the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross, was given a Curate, the church redecorated, and a mid-morning Sunday service introduced in the hope of welcoming folk from the new estate.

Another old house was, by this time, the Vicarage itself. and plans were drawn up in 1970 for the development of the vicarage site in order to finance the building of a modern vicarage. Thus Longlands Close was born.

Regular contact between Methodists and Anglicans remained a feature of local church life.

In 1971 Richard Llewellin, came to the Parish, and the following year plans were made with the Cheshunt Methodists for the sharing of one church building by the two congregations. But as new ventures were born, so other aspirations failed: 1973 saw the closure of St. Cyprian's as the hope that it would be used for worship by the people of Holdbrook faded in the light of reality.

CHESHUNT METHODIST - A BRIEF HISTORY

When John Wesley died in 1791, Methodism had a closely-knit, legalized organisation, but with neither Ministers nor sacraments. Local congregations met "outside Church hours", and 1808 "the house of Mr. Lane in Cheshunt" was licensed by the Justices for Methodist worship. By 1854 it is known that the Cheshunt Methodists, of the Wesleyan faction, were meeting at Cheshunt Hall, Crossbrook Street, described in a local directory as a public hall with seating for 300 persons. It is now occupied by the Comrades Club.
A directory of 1898 confirms that they were still meeting there and no doubt continued to do so until the new church with seating for 600 was opened in 1901. Sadly, this building has since been demolished and is the site of the new Jehovah’s Witnesses Meeting Hall in Crossbrook Street.

This Church, part of the Waltham Abbey and Hertford Mission, (as distinct from the Goff's Oak Chapel (1868) which was part of the Enfield circuit) remained as the Cheshunt Wesleyan Methodist Church until 1932 when all but two of the Methodist factions united to form the United Methodists. The movement had sprung from the Wesleyan Conference of 1912 but like most major developments in changing the pattern of Church doctrine it took time to come to fruition.

Ecumenicalism had been a feature of Methodist thought from the beginning of the 19th century and this movement culminated in the establishment of the Anglican-Methodist Unity Commission in 1965 to clarify points made in the plan for Anglican-Methodist Reunion published two years earlier. The Commission's Final Report appeared in 1968, and this was endorsed by the Methodist Conference of that year.

THE SHARING AGREEMENT & BIRTH OF "CHRIST CHURCH"

On 8th July 1969, the Church of England Convocations of Canterbury and York met and failed, by 6%, to obtain the 75% majority required to gain approval for Stage One of the Anglican-Methodist Union. However, on 6th August the Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a joint pastoral letter suggesting methods of extending local co-operation between churches.

Thus at Waltham Cross where close fellowship had existed between the two congregations for many years and in a worsening economic climate which militated against the maintenance of two large buildings so close together, the Anglican Holy Trinity and the Cheshunt Methodist Churches decided to share one church building for their joint use.

The Sharing Agreement provided for the common ownership of Holy Trinity Church, which was to be renamed Christ Church to mark the new beginning together. This was the first occasion that an existing parish church had been transferred with joint ownership with another denomination. By Christmas of 1974 all arrangements were complete, and the first Methodist Services were held in the re-named Christ Church on 5th January 1975 - Morning Worship at 11 am and a Covenant Service at 6.30 pm. Since that date an atmosphere of happy co-operation has existed between the two congregations.

A window depicting the Women & Angel at the Empty Tomb on Easter Morn in memory of Ann Kirkham, wife of J. Webster Kirkham, died Easter 1904, was brought from the Cheshunt Methodist Church, and installed above the west door.

EPILOGUE

Readers will have noticed that this short history does not mention many personal names, and is largely a history of the church building. In my book 'Cheshunt in Hertfordshire' I have described the building as being rather austere; yet on the occasions that I have shared in worship there I have felt the warmth and fellowship of both congregations. Like the churches of all denominations, the real church is the congregation of people sharing a common faith and a common purpose to serve God and the community. Thus the records I have studied inevitably remain silent about some of the Church's true life and work over the past one hundred and fifty years.

Jack Edwards

 

INTERIOR RE-ORDERING IN THE 1970's

As part of the Sharing Agreement and merging of Anglican and Methodist congregations, a major re-ordering and building project was undertaken in the mid 1970's.

The Chancel and Sanctuary were extensively remodelled and simplified to form an open, flexible space for both Anglican and Methodist Liturgy: The Choir Stall were re-sited in the North Aisle by the War Memorial and Pulpit. The two clergy stalls were turned to face the nave so that they can be used as Lecterns. The Sanctuary and Altar Steps were made the same level and the Altar moved forward from the east wall to enable free movement around the Altar. The Font was also moved to it's current position by the South Door.

The "vestry" on the south side of the Church (now the hall) was extended and a kitchen and toilet facilities added to form the current Church Hall.

In addition, the two-bay Lady Chapel was enclosed and divided into two parts to form the current Vestry and smaller Lady Chapel.

THANKSGIVING EUCHARIST +2001

On Monday 16th July 2001 , the Right Reverend Christopher Herbert, Lord Bishop of St Albans presided at a Thanksgiving Eucharist to celebrate the generosity of those who in recent years had continued to make donations and gifts to Christ Church. The following passage, is taken from the Order of Service for the occasion:

INTRODUCTION

We gather today to give thanks for those who built this church in 1833 and for those who have maintained and beautified this house of prayer throughout the years.
We are particularly grateful to those who in the last decade have left us generous legacies including:
+ Charles Maxfield
+ Winifred Cannon
+ Winifred Buxey
+ Dorothy Griggs
+ Charles McCraw
+ Hephzibah Reading
+ Ernest Snowden

These legacies have enables us:
+ To do considerable roof repairs and to fit pigeon guards to the windows and parpets.
+ To decorate the interior of the church.
+ To do electrical works to improve the lighting and sound amplification system.
+ To improve the porch by putting in glass doors and making better access for the disabled.
+ To repair and refurbish the church clock.
+ To install a new boiler.
+ To continue to improve the church hall and its facilities.
+ To replant the church gardens and to do many other works of improvement.

In addition, we are about to repair the West Window and have commissioned fifteen Stations of the Cross to be designed and painted by Mr Michael Coles and a red Altar frontal to be designed and embroided by Mrs Diana Jones.

We also remember with gratitude those who have given items in memory of departed relatives and friends. Recent gifts have included:
+ Chancel Step Rails in memory of Jack Forber
+ A Book of Remembrance and Display Case in memory of Kath & Ernie Roe
+ Special Service Book in memory of Gerald Bassett
+ Altar Book in memory of Mary Chapman
+ Incense Boat in memory of Sylvia Wild
+ Lavabo Jug and Bowl in memory of Charles Mathews
+ Paschal Candle Stand in memory of Gwen Palmer
+ Amplification System in memory of Clarence Fishpool
+ List of Vicars in memory of Fred Marshall
+ A contribution to the new Stations of the Cross in memory of Phil Joiner
+ And many other anonymous gifts and donations.

For all our benefactors and all who continue to support the life, work and worship of Christ Church, we offer our grateful thanks and praise to Almighty God.

Martin J Banister - Vicar

 

2001 - THE PRESENT.....

Further bequests and generous donations to the Church continue to be received, thus enabling the Church to be maintained and beautified on an ongoing basis:

The specially commissioned Stations Of The Cross and a new Red Altar Frontal were blessed and dedicated by The Right Reverend Christopher Foster, Bishop of Hertford, on Holy Cross Day + 15th September 2002.

In 2003, a ramp was built at the front of the Church to allow easier access for the disabled and floodlighting of the West Front was installed.

The Fred Dangerfield Memorial Icon in the Lady Chapel was blessed and dedicated on 15th December, 2004 by the Rev'd Canon Martin Banister.

In 2005, the Hall was once again extended with the addition of a Parish Office, Disabled Toilet and Disabled access ramp.

On 19th July 2006, during the Parish Confirmation Service, a beautifully crafted Open Ciborium was blessed and used for the first time by the Right Reverend Christopher Herbert, Lord Bishop of St Albans. The Ciborium, along with a Holy Water Bucket and Aspergillum and 10 Bibles, were a gift to the parish from Mrs Muriel Crane in memory of her late husband and long-time member of Christ Church, Mr Les Crane + R.I.P.

MAKE SURE YOU VISIT OUR PICTURE GALLERY TO SEE MANY OF THE ITEMS MENTION