ALTERATIONS TO THE CHURCH Part 2
At the beginning of this century it became evident that the church was not large enough for the regular congregation, and plans were made for the building of a south aisle, and the raising of the necessary money. While these plans were in progress, the Vicar, the Rev. W. J. Bettison, after more than thirty years in Leytonstone, was instituted as Vicar of North Ockendon, on the 16th December 1905. The Rev. W. T. Brown was instituted to St. John's on the 23rd January 1906, and he went ahead vigorously with the plans for enlarging the church. In the meantime a mission was held on Sunday evenings in the Elliott Room for those who could not find room in the Parish Church.
The enlargement was completed and consecrated by the Bishop of St. Alban's on the 19th March 1910. It was agreed to change over from gas lighting to electric, while this work was going on, and it is recorded that throughout the work of enlargement and renovation it was never necessary to close the church for a single Sunday. The total cost of this enlargement was nearly £4,000.
The reason why the Bishop of St. Alban's officiated at this dedication is that originally we were in the Diocese of London, and then as this grew too large and was divided, we came in the Diocese of Rochester for a time. When the Diocese of St. Alban's was formed in 1877 we became part of it, and remained so until the Diocese of Chelmsford was formed in 1914.
The furnishing of the Side-Chapel was undertaken in 1929, the cost being defrayed by subscriptions from members of the congregation. To add to the beauty of the chapel a pane of stained glass East Windows were given by Mr. & Mrs. Anstead, and in 1952 a very colourful cross and candlesticks were dedicated in memory of Sir James Slade, and placed on the chapel altar.
A further generous gift to the church was the lighting by floodlights, thus doing away with the pendants ' and giving a clear view of the whole church. This was first used August 19th, 1934.
The new East Windows in the chancel were given in 1935 as a Memorial to Mrs. Tooley, the money for this having been left in his Will by Mr. Tooley. The centre light depicts Christ the King holding the Orb of the World in His left hand, while His right hand is raised in blessing. Beneath Him, and giving Him homage, are represented people of all nations, and at the bottom appear the Arms of the Borough of Leyton. The northern light is of St. John Baptist, our Patron Saint. At the bottom of this light are the Arms of King Edward the Confessor, the original owner of the land on which the church is built, while above are the Arms of the Diocese of London. The southern light is of the Virgin Mary, representing the Mother Church of St. Mary, Leyton. At the bottom of this light the Arms of St. Alban's Diocese are represented, while at the top appear the Arms of the Diocese of Chelmsford. At the outbreak of war these windows were removed and stored for safety.
Another important addition to the Church is the beautiful wooden pulpit, dedicated in memory of Canon William Tom Brown.
The original St. John's Vicarage stood on the land adjoining the Church, where now stands Pioneer's store, and prior to that Bearman’s department store. In 1894 it was decided to undertake the building of a new house to replace the one by the Church, and a Vicarage was built at Bushwood, on a new housing estate, which was at that time being erected.
This Vicarage with its nine bedrooms, lack of central heating, though undeniably spacious, has proved too costly to maintain in our present days. It has been sold to a Housing Trust and is used as a home for people who cannot cope with life as others do. This is a Christian way of helping others and is a fitting continuation, though in another context, of what the vicarage was originally built for.
A new and much smaller vicarage was built in the garden of the former house in 1979. This is much more economical and the address has now changed to 44, Hartley Road.
We can be proud of the fact that the BBC have Broadcast from St. John's on four occasions. The first was to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Men's Service on October 30th 1927. The second kept their 30th anniversary on October 16th, 1932. Then on 22nd October 1933, a broadcast was made as part of the Centenary Celebrations for the Building of the Church. The fourth broadcast was the "People's Service" led by the Rt. Rev. Cuthbert Bardsley, Bishop of Croydon, as the opening of a Radio Mission in October '1954.