St Mark Whitechapel (Goodman’s Fields) 1839-1925
also known as St Mark, Tenter Ground curates ~ baptism & wedding statistics
THE CHURCH & ITS PARISH….
For the earlier history of Goodman's Fields see here.
The 1755 map [left], from an edition of John Stow's Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster,
shows the area as the southern part of the parish of St Mary Matfelon,
the original 'White Chapel' which gave the district its name. (That
church was rebuilt several times, blitzed in the war and its site is
now Altab Ali Park; much has been written about its history). By the
mid-19th century houses had been built around the edge of Tenter
North, South, East and West Tenter Streets (a few of which remain) and
it was bisected by what became Scarborough and St Mark's Streets. It had become a poor and populous district, and the decision was made to create a new parish. The 1868 map right, shows the location of the church; further south, the school hemmed in by the railway, and to
the east, on Backchurch Lane, the mission chapel mentioned below.
church was built in 1838 by the
Churches Fund, at a cost of £5,265 11s 1d to
Henry Wyatt and his collaborator David Brandon
(their first London church) and
consecrated on 30 May 1839. By Order in Council of 1 April 1841 a
parish area was carved out of St Mary's parish, but the incumbent
remained a 'Perpetual Curate' until 1863. The Dowager Queen Adelaide
building of a Sunday and infant school. National
Schools were established that year
Street and Royal Mint Street,
where a parish hall was also built. A vicarage, in neo-Tudor style, was
provided in St Mark's Street, near to the Jews' Orphan Asylum described
The 1851 census lists the population of the parish as 15,790, in 1,757 'households' - an average of 9.09% per household, the highest in East London, and with the highest percentage of Irish and foreign-born residents (primarily from Germany, Holland, Poland and Prussia). Those who were not in 'seasonal employment' worked in tailoring and dressmaking - especially women and Jewish men who were increasingly settling in the area. They worked from home, on a piecework basis, so needed to live near their suppliers. In 1858 the parish was described, at a committee of the House of Lords, as ‘utterly unmanageable’.Under a faculty of 23 September 1874 William Alexander Longmore of Aldgate removed the north and south galleries to throw open the roof, rebuilt the east wall six feet further east to allow a chancel to be formed, partially reseated the church and did various repairs; the Incorporated Church Building Society made a grant (see their plan 07698, drawn by another architect, G.H. Simmons). In 1879 the organ, a 17-stop 2 manual instrument by Gray and Davison, ordered in 1839 and installed in 1846, was moved from the west gallery and rebuilt in the old vestry at the north-east by T.R. Willis. (It was further rebuilt by Robert Slater & Son of Forest Gate in 1904 or 1906, with 20 speaking stops. The organist in the 1920s was Charles F. Willson. When the church closed, the organ was moved to St James Alperton, but was later replaced by another instrument). Two years later the interior was brightened by some wall paintings.The exterior is pictured right in the 1920s.
11am & 6.30pm; weekdays (except Saturday) and holy days 11am, plus
Wednesdays at 1pm; HC first Sunday and greater festivals
Other institutions within the parish
For a few years In the 1850s the Working Tailors' Association had a small co-operative factory in Tenter Street, one of a dozen such experiments copying the French self-governing workshops (les associations ouveriers)
launched by Christian Socialists under the leadership of J.M.
Ludlow and largely financed by Edward Vansittart Neale. (F.D. Maurice,
on whom see below, was the titular head of the Society for Promoting
Working Men's Associations but was curiously lukewarm about practical
projects, perhaps fearing that they would become movements of protest
rather than change.) Much has been written about this movement, and the reasons
for the projects' failures.
By the end of the 19th century, there were various hostels and clubs in the parish, including
…AND ITS CLERGY
intriguing mix of clergy served this
church during its near-century of existence, some drawn by commitment
to the urban poor, some to the possibilities of mission among those of
other faiths, particularly the Jews who came to make up the majority
of its population, several distinguished scholars and national figures,
hit the headlines in other ways. After an initial 'protestant phase',
of them were broad church and liberal, though there were a few
high-church ritualists. Here are details of the incumbents ('Perpetual
Curates' until 1863, then Vicars); see here for the many curates.
first incumbent, from 1839, was Neville Jones (formerly of
the Episcopal Floating Church),
of St Catharine's College Cambridge, ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln
in 1832. In his time the parish received a grant from the 'Metropolitan
Society', whose full name was 'The Association
for Promoting the Relief of Destitution in the Metropolis, and for
Improving the Condition of the Poor, by means of Parochial and District
Visiting, under the superintendence of the Bishop and Clergy, through
the agency of Unpaid Visitors [later
and without reference to religious persuasion]'. It was founded in 1845
and was one of a network of agencies which believed that charitable
relief must be accompanied by a systematic programme of district
visiting to address the social and moral causes of poverty. (It was also active at Trinity Episcopal Chapel.) Neville Jones wrote to them:
|We held a meeting of influential inhabitants yesterday, and formed a committee of ten gentlemen, with hope of adding to their number. Sixteen other persons volunteered to act as visitors, and I doubt not, in a little while, considerably to increase the number, as we all were encouraged by your kind promise of pecuniary aid to relieve the vast amount of distress which naturally prevails in such localities as mine; and I now find that a want of means to relieve the misery to be encountered was the circumstance which kept many of my people from the work of district visiting, That objection will now be obviated by the assistance of your society.|
John Lyons (1847-52), was born in Ireland in 1804 and ordained there. Briefly minister of Long Acre Chapel
in London (where he was active in the Irish Society of London) and from
1833-38 of All Saints Chapel, Grosvenor Street in Liverpool (created
from a former tennis court in 1798, licensed by the Bishop of Chester
in 1832 - and sold to the Roman Catholics in 1845), he was involved in
various Protestant associations, and debates with Roman
Catholics, including this
marathon six day session, harmoniously conducted, on 'The Rule of
Faith' and 'The Sacrifice of the Mass' at Downside College, Bath in
1834 [title page right]. After his time in Bolton, and his exchange with Neville
Jones, he became vicar of Tillingham in Essex (eliciting a pious ode on his departure - right - published in John Osborne A Poetic Miscellany 1866), then in 1859 of
St Bartholomew Wednesbury, where there is a memorial marking his death in 1883.
A 'Rev J. Lyons' wrote this poem [left] in The Ladies' Repository of
1849; if it was not him, it's worth including anyway as a pious
response to new technology! [Compare the famous example of bathos by
the Poet Laureate Alfred Austin, fifty years later on the illness of
the Prince of Wales: Across the wires the electric message came: 'He is no better. He is much the same.']
services in 1851 were listed as at 11am and 6.30pm, and Wednesdays at
7pm, with the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of the month: Seats to be had at the School-house,
Rosemary Lane, or after service, Wednesday evenings.
came John Llewellyn Davies
Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, who came to St Mark's after a
year's unpaid curacy at St Anne Limehouse. He was a Broad Churchman and lifelong friend and disciple
Maurice (as were several of his successors), working with him on the establishment of the foundation of the Working Men's College in 1854. A frequent letter-writer to The Times and The Guardian he corresponded with many
leading liberal figures of the day - you can read some of their
replies, edited by his son as A Victorian Postbag. This appeal [right] from The Evangelical Magazine vol 32 (154) shows his willingness to work ecumenically. (See here for his friend and unpaid curate Robert Hebert Quick.)
The first of his many scholarly publications was his joint translation with D.J. Vaughan [see below] of Plato's Republic (1852), followed by Saint Paul and Modern Thought, a response to Jowett's commentary (1856). In that year he became Rector of Christ Church Marylebone, remaining there until 1889. There were two collections of sermons -The Work of Christ, or the World reconciled to God, with a Preface on the Atonement Controversy (1860) and Sermons on the Manifestation of the Son of God, with a Preface addressed to Laymen on the present position of the Clergy of the Church of England, and an Appendix on the Testimony of Scripture and the Church as to the Possibility of Pardon in the Future State (1864). He wrote or co-wrote three of the Tracts for Priests and People, produced by a range of Broad Churchmen in the wake of Essays and Reviews (vol 1 1861, vol 2 1862). In 1866 came The Epistles of St. Paul to the Ephesians, the Colossians, and Philemon, with an Introduction and Notes, and an Essay on the Traces of Foreign Elements in the Theology of these Epistles; and in the same year The Poor Law and Charity, a paper published in Macmillan's Magazine which foreshadows the approach to welfare that was to characterise the work of the Charity Organisation Society. Other works included Morality according to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, Three Discourses on the Names Eucharist, Sacrifice, and Communion (1867), The Church of England and the Church of Rome (1870),Theology & Morality (1873), and The Gospel and Modern Life, Sermons on some of the Difficulties of the Day, with a Preface on a recent Phase of Deism (1875).
Leaving London with a 700-name testimonial to his influence, he became
Vicar of Kirkby Lonsdale from 1889-1908 (where in 1891 he produced Baptism, Confirmation, and the Lord's Supper, as interpreted by their
outward Signs, three Expository Addresses for Parochial use), retiring to Hampstead at the
age of 82. He was a Chaplain to the Queen (and then the King) from
1876. An original member of the Alpine Club, he was one of the first to
climb some of the Swiss peaks. He was a strong advocate
of women's rights, and his sister Emily was
one of the founders of Girton College. He had one daughter and six sons; his son Arthur's
five boys were the inspiration of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.
He died in 1916, aged 90; here is his obituary in The Times.
David James Vaughan (1856-60) was Davies' exact contemporary (and joint Bell's Scholar) at Trinity, and in 1852 they produced together a translation with scholarly notes of Plato's Republic, the most widely-used version until eclipsed by that of Benjam Jowett, and still well-regarded. Influenced by Maurice, Ludlow and Campbell (who dedicated his Evidences to Vaughan) he had moved from Tractarianism to a liberal, broad church position which embraced the emerging Christian Socialism. He joined the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce in 1853. At Rugby School and Cambridge he had become 'surrogate brother' to T.H. Green, the philosopher of social justice. He was the third of his High Tory father Edward Thomas Vaughan's six sons (there were also eight daughters) to succeed him as vicar of St Martin Leicester (now the Cathedral), following Charles John (1841-44, who became Headmaster of Harrow but left after a well-concealed sexual scandal, which also prevented him from becoming Bishop of Rochester - he became Master of the Temple and Dean of Llandaff) and Edward Thomas Jnr (1845-59). Apart from his time at St Mark's he spent the whole of his ministry in Leicester - turning down the living of Battersea although it was worth £1200 a year, as against his Leicester stipend of £140. The Vaughan porch to the cathedral's south door (designed by J.L. Pearson) was a memorial to the brothers, and especially to David's adult education work.
In The Health of
he advocated vaccination, better housing and fewer premature marriages.
He was an assiduous visitor at the Infectious Diseases Hospital,
despite the personal risks. In The Church and Socialism (1889)
he raised the issue of poor employment prospects for men over 40: when brain
and strength are at their best a man is liable to be regarded as past
1894 he supported an international move to limit conscription to a
single year, in the cause of peace. But he opposed non-sectarian
teaching in Board Schools, as weakening morality. He is most remembered
for founding - after Maurice's example - the Leicester Working Man's
College, now Vaughan College (Leicester University's Adult Education
Centre). He died in 1905.
Brooke Lambert [right], from a titled, originally Huguenot, family, came from Brasenose College as Bartlett’s curate and then became Vicar (1866-71). Along with Samuel Barnett at St Jude Whitechapel, he was described as one of the 'squires of the slums'. (See Nigel Scotland Squires in the Slums (I.B. Tauris 2007) which traces the impact of Lambert, Barnett and others through to the establishment of university settlements and missions in the latter years of the century.) Influenced by F.D. Maurice, he was heavily involved in social action, serving on many committees and researching poor law administration, producing statistics that anticipate the work of Charles Booth. Seven Sermons on Pauperism, preached at St Mark's in 1870, were published. He founded a soup kitchen, a mutual improvement society and a working men's club, and campaigned for a public mortuary in the area, in the light of cases such as that reported in The Lancet (30 October 1860) of a child who had died of scarlet fever lying for seven days in a single underground room where his parents and three other children lived and slept, in a house in Tenter Street shared by several families. He became a member of the Guild of St Matthew, and one of his lectures on their behalf was 'The Republic of Plato and the Republic of Christ'.
He was also an ardent vegetarian, writing about the local slaughterhouses:
|If any one wishes to know
nuisance be real, let him turn out of the Whitechapel Road at the
entrance to the London and North-Western goods station, and pass down
the streets leading thence to Mansell Street. He will then know what
the smell of blood is. And yet he will probably often boldly encounter
the smell of blood in preference to the worse sights he will risk in
Whitechapel Road. The carts laden with fresh skins, the pails full of
blood and brains, are sights to which a long experience does not harden
Anna Bonus Kingsford The Perfect Way in Diet, chapter 8 – a Vegetarian Society publication that went through several editions.
He left because of poor health; after a year in Rainhill, Lancashire in 1872 he became Vicar of Tamworth, and then from 1880 until his death in 1901 Vicar of Greenwich, where he worked with schools, founded the Greenwich Provident Dispensary, and chaired the Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young Servants. He published widely, and his papers were bought by the University of Iowa libraries.
In 1866 the curate W.R. Scott established a mission chapel, named St Clement, at 69 Backchurch Lane. It is shown on this 1868 map, but was short-lived; more detail here.
Work among the Jews, and beyond
the parish population became overwhelmingly Jewish, St Mark's attempted
for a time to offer a Christian witness to the diverse
diaspora which had settled here (many living in extreme
but with a rich cultural life). Four clergy who were Jewish converts*
served here - as did two others at Christ Church Watney Street, and one
at St John the Evangelist Grove Street; their
stories are told in more detail here.
* Hermann Hirsch was curate from 1868-70, and Alexander William Schapira from 1887-90 (and later at Christ Church). A decade later, Albert Elias Abrahamson was curate (1896-1900), and Secretary of the Hebrew Christian Message to Israel.
from 1899-1907 (curiously, he only became a trustee of the parish's
National School in 1904 - incumbents are normally ex officio). He was given a dispensation to preach in
Hebrew. In 1885 Charlotte
sometimes described as 'the novelist of the Oxford movement', wrote to
her cousin Mary about a meeting with Rosenthal at which he explained
Jewish customs to her. The Booth Archive contains an interview
him [B222 pages 108-125]. His memorial tablet (in dark
which was moved to St Paul Dock Street when St Mark's closed, says formerly
a Jewish rabbi, he was converted in early manhood to the Christian
religion, and enduring much persecution thenceforth laboured
unceasingly to bring to his Jewish brethren the knowledge of Jesus
More on his later ministry here. (His son David became the vicar of St Agatha Sparkbrook, an inner-city
anglo-catholic parish in Birmingham, until his sudden death in 1938.
Descendants remain active in the Church in Wales, and we are grateful
for information that they have provided.)
this focus petered out. Rosenthal's
successor from 1907-21 was Lionel Smithett Lewis. Ordained
in 1891 from Queens' College Cambridge, he had been a curate in
Cheltenham, Pimlico, Clifton (Bristol) and Mile End New Town before
coming here. He
was a keen member of the Church
Anti-Vivisection League (founded in 1889), whose first annual
report stated the torture of God's
sentient creatures is a sin.
This was one of many of societies campaigning against animal
experimentation; others were the Society for United Prayer against
Cruelty, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, the
Electoral Anti-Vivisection League, the London Anti-Vivisection Society,
the National Anti-Vivisection Society, the Society for the Abolition of
Vivisection, the Victoria Street Society, and the Working
Association for the Suppression of Vivisection. (See Wilkie Collins'
anti-vivisectionist novel Heart & Science
1883.) A crabby comment in the British Medical Journal of 14 July 1906 says of his sermon at the League's annual service at Christ Church Endell Street:
|....The general dreariness and banality... seems to have been only relieved by his concluding statement of a belief that animals not less than man are included in the scope of the Redemption. It is a doctrine which may be commended to the study of theologists; when they have settled it, possibly those who share Mr. Lewis's prejudices might observe with some advantage the general scheme of Nature, note the general preying of animal upon animal, of insect upon insect, and ask themselves whether, apart from physical suffering, the standpoint of nearly all Christian sects is not that we are all here in pursuance of a vast experiment, being sent into the world with free wills, and inoculated at birth with the toxins of good and evil. Unfortunately, however, there are no controls, and the result can never be known to any of us in mundane life.|
Vivisection became a local issue in Lewis' time with demonstrations
in 1909 at the London Hospital against animal experimentation
undertaken to improve the practice of anaesthesia; other less
progressive hospitals in
poor areas, such as Battersea and the Old Kent Road, were established
which opposed both vivisection and vaccination. At the 1908 AGM of the
Metropolitan Hospital Sunday Fund (which had raised £80,000 that year,
half of it from churches) Lewis protested, unsuccessfully, at the
exclusion of the Battersea Anti-Vivisection Hospital from the list of
recipients. The hospital collection at St Mark's that year had raised
3s 3d (British Medical Journal 26 December 1908).
passion of his 86 years was the Holy Grail. When he left Whitechapel he
of Glastonbury, and wrote St
Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury: or the Apostolic Church of Britain
(first published in 1922, and much-reprinted
- described as queer
but carefully-documented); Glastonbury,
the Mother of Saints: Her Saints AD 37 - AD 1539;
many other books and pamphlets, based on his belief that the Grail
legend had a factual basis. He died there in 1953, having devoted much
of his energies to the annual
(from which, sadly, women priests remain excluded). He also acquired
for the parish, after an impassioned plea at its auction, one of two
medieval priests' chairs (the other, at the Bishop's Palace in Wells,
is pictured right): the pattern of the so-called Glastonbury chair has been widely copied by church furnishers over the last century.
for some comments on the baptism registers from this period: Rosenthal
(in relation to Jewish converts) and Lewis (including an exchange
across the years on the subject of 'private baptism').