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All Our Stories

ImageThanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, TimeLine has had the chance to team up with St Paul's, the West Hackney parish church, to collect up and share stories  about some of the amazing people and places that are part of the West Hackney history and heritage.

Some of the stories came from archives and history books, and lots more came from people who have lived in the area for most of their life.   The West Hackney story began nearly two hundred years ago.   It all began with the church ...

Hackney had become home to so many people that even the huge St John-at-Hackney Church (bang in the centre of Hackney, just near the ancient  St. Augustine's Tower, close to where Hackney Town Hall is now), was just not big enough to fit everyone inside.  

ImageReverend John James Watson, the Rector of Hackney, knew that something must be done because his numbers did not add up.   The problem was 

The great want of church room in the parish (the population whereof amounts to no less than twenty-two thousand persons) and the church accommodation only to about three thousand two hundred.

When there were so many types of religion and services to choose from in radical Hackney, Reverend Watson wanted to make quite sure that everyone in Hackney could go to a strict Protestant church.   So plans began to build extra churches ....  including one in West Hackney.  It would be a very grand building, on the road that stretches up from the City of London, and the architect would be Sir Robert Smirke, who had designed the British Museum.

ImageAt last the building was finished to everyone's satisfaction.  The aisles and pillars, windows and galleries were all ready, with a cupola right at the top.  The Rector thought it "hath been filled up with pews, seats erected therein, and the same hath been decently and properly ornamented and furnished with all things necessary for the performance of divine worship therein according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England."   It was time to consecrate the new church.   

On Saturday April 10th 1824 nearly two thousand people squeezed inside the church to watch the Bishop of London consecrate the church and the quiet burial ground outside.   And there the chuch stood until October 1940, when it became one of the many buildings in Hackney to fall victim to the Blitz.

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