Christ Church was built in the mid-19th century to serve a fast-growing local population. These days most of our worship and events take place here, with a diverse and active congregation that reflects the community around us.
The delightful villages of Snaresbrook
From the 1820s, the Snaresbrook end of the parish started to become fashionable and grow rapidly, especially once the railway arrived in 1856. “Snaresbrook…is a delightful village on the confines of the Forest, not far distant from the river Roden… it contains some capital houses, the residences of gentlemen’s families…and selected as a suitable situation for numerous elegant seats and country villas.”
A shift in the parish
With a growing population came the problem of insufficient church accommodation. St. Mary’s, the original parish church, had been very convenient for Wanstead House. But it was now looking rather isolated, situated at the far end of a lane away from the centre of things. So a petition was laid to build a new chapel of ease closer to the heart of the community.
Keeping it in the family
It became the personal project of the Rector, the Revd William Pitt Wigram. His family appears to have paid a third of the building costs, while the foundation stone was laid by Wigram’s brother, the Bishop of Rochester, on 18th May 1860. The completed building was consecrated on 19th July 1861 by the Bishop of London.
A fine example of Gothic revival architecture
Christ Church was designed by George Gilbert Scott, the architect behind the nearby Infant Orphan Asylum – now Snaresbrook Crown Court. Built at the height of the Gothic revival in the geometric style of the late 13th century, it was originally a chancel with the north aisle and a nave of four bays. In 1867 a south aisle was added and the church lengthened by a bay. A tower and spire were then added in 1869 and vestries in 1889.
Interesting features of note
The east window above the altar shows a stained glass window of Christ in majesty surrounded by angels. Donated by Mary and Gertrude Nutter in memory of their sister Jessie, the maker’s signature wheat sheaf and tower can be seen in the left-hand corner. The angels around the high altar were brought over from Ely theological college, although they originated in Nuremberg. The 1920s rood comes from Salisbury Teacher Training College and incorporates a particularly fine figure of Christ.
Ready for the 21st century
Christ Church was reordered at the beginning of the 21st century. The vestry and sacristy were renovated and a nave altar installed. The organ was replaced and re-sited at the east end of the northern arcade, allowing it to project music directly into the main body of the church. Finally, the old organ chamber was converted into a parish office.
Christ Church and its beautiful gardens now host a wide range of activities all year round, from regular services and classical concerts to picnics and even the annual parish dog show! Everyone is welcome to join us.