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TEXT ONLY VERSION  for quick reference and searching, for the illustrated version - H  Church Schools and Barnadardo - then and now  2.0 Mb pdf
283 Overview of section H
H 284-286 Glimpses of the changing church and parish surroundings
H 287-297 The Church Schools
H 298-304 The ‘Barnardo connection’ with the parishes
H 305-312 Views in and around the parish, both then and now
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Then and Now … from 1858 to 2008
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1745 After 1770
1952 2000
1831 1882 1914
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The Church Schools
In this brief look back over the two parishes and churches and the changes they have seen, mention
must be made of the church schools. The work of the church has never been seen as just concerning
itself with spiritual wellbeing but with the growth of the whole person, in particular through a
rounded education of high standards. Both parishes of St. Paul and St. Luke built a church school
early on, soon after the churches were built.
St. Paul’s School:
The commemorative booklet published in 1908 to mark the 50th Anniversary of the consecration of
the first St. Paul’s, Bow Common recorded the origins of the church school.
Churches took their schools very seriously and church schools are still seen as desirable places
within which to place ones children and parents still make great efforts to find a place for their
children in a church school. When I arrived at Bow Common it then had the smallest church
electoral roll in the diocese. Growth came, however, through parents attending church for their
children to qualify for admission to our church school and for the ‘church letter’ to be signed by
the Vicar! However, many of these parents stayed and grew in commitment and became the new
core for the church alongside those who had been there from the beginning. Together, they and
those who have come on later still witness and serve admirably under the excellent new
Incumbent, Mother Bernadette Hegarty. The link between church and school continues strong and
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The East London Church Chronicle made this comment in 1908 on St. Paul’s, Bow Common.
‘The Church still retains many beautiful features, relics of more prosperous days: A very fine Jesse window
designed by Street, a magnificent organ, a painted chancel (now faded), and a set of Holy Vessels, formerly
the property of Queen Caroline, which were presented by Bishop Blomfield.
The schools began in a small way in a dilapidated, rat-infested cottage, but in 1859 the foundation
stone of the present school was laid by Bishop Wilberforce. The Schools have the largest playground in
London, with a swimming bath, and in spite of recent legislation are more than holding their own.’
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To the north of the railway bridge across Burdett Rd. stands a row of tennis courts and, latterly,
the entrance to underground work for the new Crossrail network. It is now impossible to imagine
that the church school of St.Paul’s, Bow Common stood here for just over 100 years. The building
did not only see generations of young east-enders find education and nurture and positive rolemodelling
here but it also was the place where the St. Luke’s Mission was first located and began
on 15th October 1865. When the church was destroyed in 1940/41 the school was used as one of
the places in which the congregation relocated as emergency measures.
The church has an album of rather discouraging photographs of the school taken in the 1950’s!
These show all kinds of dilapidations, including very healthy dry rot fungus! I was given to
understand that these were part of the ‘evidence’ for the provision of a new church school as the
old building has outrun its day. The case was proven and a new school opened on 1st May 1972.
Maguire and Murray had already designed the new church and were give the commission now
for the new school, around 1970 or 1971. This was now St. Paul with St. Luke Primary School.
These items below
witness to this, the
new school now
being relocated to
Leopold Street, on
the same side of
Burdett Rd. as the
church and on the
same road as the
The article here is
unsourced but introduces
this new
example of the ‘open
plan’ approach to
teaching, radical just
as the church was
radical in its
approach to liturgy
and church life.
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St. Paul with St. Luke School:
The photographs which follow on the next page are of interest because they show the new church
school in the stage of construction (late 1971 or early 1972?). But, they also show the last days of
the surrounding housing, since replaced by the Leopold Estate which is (2015) itself being rebuilt
in large areas.
The first photo is of Leopold St. with the sloping roof of the new school visible at the end and the
boarded up previous housing awaiting demolition in due course. I lived in the Vicarage at the end
of this street on the right and it is fascinating to see what was once there!
The lower view shows the school being built and the housing on Ackroyd Drive in the background,
again, not long before demolition. The heights of the tower block, Elmslie Point, can be seen on the
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- 292 -
In the Letters page of the Evening Standard of 29th August 1972 the following letter appeared,
written by the then Headteacher of St. Paul with St. Luke School. In it he vigorously defends open
plan teaching against the critics.
On 1st September, a further
letter appeared on this topic
in the Evening Standard, in
defence of the Headteacher.
View of the school from the
lower level of the church
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- 294 -
Some of these views have already been
seen but are brought together here, of the
special service in the church to celebrate
the opening of the new Church School, to
replace the two schools for each of St.
Paul’s and St. Luke’s parishes.
From what I heard, children had danced
around the church scattering fronds and
flowers, hence the covering over the
church floor! I am grateful to Bob Maguire
who gave these to me around 2009.
The Rt. Revd. Trevor Huddleston, Bishop of
Stepney, presided, assisted by Fr. Kirkby.
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As time went on and open plan teaching fell out of favour this building was now permanently
committed to such a system of classrooms without walls and a very fluid method of teaching. It
did recognise that children would emerge into secondary school teaching which was not based on
open plan principles and so there were two classrooms which conventional enclosed classrooms
for the children who be leaving in a year or two. Even so, by the time I came to know the school
in 1995 I clearly remember the difficulties, in particular, with sound bouncing off the huge sloping
roof into many of the central teaching spaces which, by then had been separated but still with one
large common roof way up above them.
As time went on, floor to roof-height walls were built, as well as stairways, to separate out all the
teaching areas, each now with its own space and entrance. The central under-roof space became
the relocated school hall/dining-area. The best has been done with what was built for very
different teaching conditions. Before 1995 asbestos had been found in the acoustic tiling of the
main roof and these were all replaced, much as happened later in the church. The replacement
inner roof surface, however, was very acoustically reflective. I remember mentioning this to Keith
Murray who said that the acoustic properties of the original ceiling had been designed to be
optimised for use in a school full of noisy and energetic children. However, such considerations
did not seem to have carried through to the new surface.
In its present form the school has achieved its maximum potential within what it has and there is
no room for expansion or a better configuration, alas. Briefly, around 2012 there were thoughts and
even an initial design for a school expansion but these fell by the wayside.
St. Luke’s School:
St. Luke’s Mission began in 1865
from within a school – the church
school for St. Paul’s, Bow
Common, loaned out for such use
by its first Vicar, Rev. Arthur
When St. Luke’s Church was
consecrated in 1869, its own
school was opened on 1st July
1872 in nearby Copperfield Road.
Alas this is all we have in terms of
any archive on St. Luke’s School.
At the top of the next page can be
seen a map of 1914 on which are
marked St. Luke’s Church and
also St. Luke’s Church Day
School. But just opposite, at the
beginning of Copperfield Rd. on
the banks of the Regent’s Canal,
by the Victory Bridge, is another building marked ‘School.’
All of the canal side was filled with warehouses but in 1877 one of these was purchased and
converted by Dr. Thomas Barnardo to create the Copperfield Rd. Free School. In fact there is a
strong Barnardo’s connection with both parishes of St. Paul and St. Luke and he would have
known both churches, each of them located so close to some important centres for his work.
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The ‘Barnardo Connection’ with the parishes
On the map of 1914 below, the two parish churches can be seen indicated in red (1 & 2), as can their
respective church schools (1S & 2S). There are three other sites marked in yellow (3, 4 and 5) which
were foundations of the remarkable Dr. Thomas Barnardo. Dr. Barnardo died in 1905 and so these
establishments had changed their main function by 1914 but were still in place. Only one of them
remains today in its original form, the excellent Ragged School Museum, but all three sites are still
located within the now united benefice of St. Paul with St. Luke.
Thomas Barnardo was born in Dublin on 4th July 1845 and at the
age of 21 moved to London, to train as a doctor at the London
Hospital. Alas he missed the entrance exam! But in that year of
1867 he worked at the hospital with victims of a cholera
outbreak. He was an evangelical Christian and committed to
service of the poor and the sick. There was no such thing as
universal free education for children but by the mid 1800’s
‘ragged’ schools had begun to be set up in the poorest areas by
people who had a concern for the grave disadvantage a lack of
education brought for poor children and the Ragged Schools
Union was established in 1844. These were set up wherever
possible – railway arches, stable or lofts. The focus was on
reading, writing, arithmetic and Bible-study. It is estimated that
about 300,000 children were educated in London in ragged schools between 1844 and 1881.
1 : St.Paul’s Church 2 : St.Luke’s Church 1S : St. Paul’s School 2S : St. Luke’s School
3 : Edinburgh Castle Mission 4 : Copperfield Rd. Ragged School 5 : Leopold House Boys’ Home
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In October 1866 Barnardo worked in a ragged school in Stepney, becoming superintendent but
resigned after two months. It was one of the young waifs, Jim Jarvis, who famously took Barnardo on
a tour of the East End that he knew with children sleeping in gutters and alleyways and roofs. It
shocked Barnardo to the core and the very next day he wrote to the Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli,
asking for his support in tackling this dreadful state of affairs.
In October of the next year Barnardo passed his entrance exams to the London Hospital having already
passed entrance exams to Durham University the previous month and went on to study as a medical
student at the London Hospital from September 1868 and qualified as a surgeon at the Royal College
of Surgeons in Edinburgh in 1876 but his life’s work had already begun. In March 1867 he opened his
first ragged school and more and more his interest and zeal came to the attention of important people.
He had been committed to dedicating his life to the China Inland Mission but in September 1868 he
was offered the enormous sum of £1000 by an MP, Samuel Smith, to give this up and work instead for
the poor children of the East End.
So much of his passion was driven
by his religious evangelical zeal and
he was committed to Mission. It
was the summer of 1872 that saw
the first connection with our parish.
In Edinburgh Rd. (see (3) on the
map above) was the notorious
Edinburgh Castle Public House a
renowned gin palace and music
hall. It is shown here. Alcohol was
the solace but also the undoing of
the poor. But what were the
alternatives and society as a whole
had shown little practical concern at
their plight? And so with an attitude
of ‘if you can’t beat them then join
them!’ Thomas Barnardo set up an
enormous mission tent right next door to the Edinburgh Castle! Every night 2000 people would pack
the tent to hear the preaching of the renowned Joshua Poole (himself once alcohol dependent) & his
wife, Mary. People flocked there and it is reputed that 200 people per night were converted. Within a
few months the effects on the Edinburgh Castle were catastrophic and it was put up for sale!
In October of that year Barnardo
bought it and work began, with the
support of a number of rich
evangelicals, to create a huge
mission church which could
accommodate 3000 people at one
time, with the ‘British Workman’s
Coffee Palace’ also set up, to
replace the alcoholic refreshment of
the past. These were officially
opened on 14th February 1873.
A few months later, in June 1873, he
married Sarah Louise Elmslie,
better known as Syrie. They were
given Mossford Lodge, Barkingside
as a wedding present and this is where they immediately invited twelve orphaned girls to live.
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The Edinburgh Castle People’s Missions Church became something of a centre for Barnardo’s work
for destitute children and for the poor. There is no record I have found of how the neighbouring
long-established churches viewed all of this, whether supportively and even with co-operation, or
if there may have been suspicion or envy. One would have hoped that issues of church tradition –
Barnardo’s independent evangelicalism – would not have been a problem for the catholic
traditions of both St. Paul’s and St. Luke’s but ecumenism had not yet been born!
In was in 1875 or 1876 that Barnardo bought up some warehouse space very near to his Mission
Church, in Copperfield Rd. (see (5) on the map above) and opened the Copperfield Road Free
School across the road from the already established St. Luke’s Day School. Here, for over 30 years,
tens of thousands of children received a free education and the chance of a better start in life.
By1908 there were many more government schools established in the area for local families and so
the Barnardo School was closed.
The buildings then went
through a variety of industrial
uses until, in the early 1980s,
they were scheduled for
demolition. At that time I was
curate at the neighbouring St.
Dunstan’s, Stepney, and
remember the strong outcry
and movement by local people
to save and reclaim the unique
heritage which the schools
represented. The Ragged
School Museum Trust was set
up and the museum opened in
It is a precious resource in the local area and far beyond, with school coaches always parked
outside in term time as countless young people connect with the heritage of this area and with the
broader social history of the East End in the 19th century. It is excellently run, at present, by the
admirable Director, Erica Davies (www.raggedschoolmuseum.org.uk). To quote from their
‘In an original setting, an authentic Victorian Classroom has been set up where each year some 16,000
children experience a school lesson as it would have been taught more than 100 years ago. We have also
recreated a Victorian East End Kitchen from the 1900s, demonstrating what life would have been like in a
simple, one-room home with no electricity or running water. The museum has several gallery areas,
a reconstructed Victorian Classroom and a Victorian East End Kitchen displaying its own collection of
historical objects, all designed for hands-on inspection. This is a museum where you can sit at the school
desks, use the tin bath and experience what life was like for the Victorian poor of the East End of London.’
Both of these major Barnardo sites were in St. Luke’s parish, but in January 1883 a major Barnardo
enterprise was set up just yards from St. Paul’s, Bow Common at 199 Burdett Rd. This was Leopold
House (see (5) on the map above).
On the corner of Burdett Rd. Today stand one of the two tower blocks in the parish – Elmslie Point.
Before the destruction of World War II this was the site of a major enterprise of Thomas Barnardo,
Leopold House. This following account is gratefully taken from:
http://wwwv.goldonian.org/photos/photo_archive_homes/pages./ leopo1d_house.htm
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Goldings Web Photo Gallery
Photos from Barnardo’s Archive 26/4/2002
‘LEOPOLD HOUSE, 199 Burdett Road, Stepney, London E3
Leopold House was opened in January of 1883 for orphaned boys aged 10 to 13 years. ln 1887 the property
was extended and in 1908 re-opened for school boys and provided bell ringing training. The property had a
courtyard to the rear with further buildings. Leopold House Closed in 1912 on the opening of new larger
home on the Stepney Causeway Site. Mr. Armitage the Superintendent of Leopold House moving to Dame
Margaret’s Home with the rest of the boys.
Leopold House was then acquired by the Salvation Army as a refuge for the homeless of the area. There then
followed a protracted dispute between the Salvation Army and Stepney Borough Council on the intended
usage of the building. Stepney Borough Council finally in 1915 refused permission for the use as a Homeless
Refuge. Leopold House then become a factory being used to make shoes and clothing. Leopold House was
finally destroyed when hit by a German Bomb in 1941.
Why was the house named Leopold House? Why should this little corner on the Boundary of Poplar and Bow
have such a name that is not in keeping with its environment. The name comes from Prince Leopold, Duke
of Albany, the youngest son of Queen Victoria. Although he suffered from ill-health throughout his life, he
did pay a genuine interest in poor communities and in particular the disabled, he attended the opening, in
January 1883, of a new Dr. Barnardo home for young boys. This home was named in his honour and was
where Elmslie Point a story (tower block) is now. Soon after the Opening the existing Edward Street was
renamed Leopold Street to commemorate the visit.’
Dr. Barnardo’s own account is then offered:
Reproduced from the GUILD MESSENGER
August 1976 page 22
By T. J. Barnardo
Leopold House Orphan House, 199 Burdett
Road, East London. (A Voluntary Home for
Little Boys aged 10 and 13 years of age,
accommodating 420 inmates in good health, who
are capable of giving their whole time to
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‘While the average residence of boys at Stepney is only about twelve months, that at Leopold House is usually
two or three years. The majority of the occupants go in at about 10 years of age, and only pass on to Stepney in
due course when they have attained 13. Few, if any, emigrants are selected from the Leopold HQ use boys, and
there are no industries taught there. Hence an uninterrupted course of school training can be carried on. With
these younger boys I act more fully than it is possible to do in the Homes for older boys upon the principle that
the Christian family sitting-room is the best Reformatory, and further, that a family without a mother is like a
parlour without a fire in winter. Indeed, the education of boys, however orderly and well-disciplined must, in
many respects, be one-sided which does not admit of kind womanly influence.
Especially would this be the case with very young boys like the inmates of Leopold House. Here, accordingly, the
residents are placed specially under womanly care. Many of these young boys, of 10 or 11 years of age, have been
taken from very evil as well as from very squalid surroundings; but, admitted as they are at such tender years,
they very soon throw aside their burdens of care and suffering, and become the happiest and most natural and
boyish little fellows imaginable. Leopold House is thus really the homeliest of all the large Homes under my care,
and when the inmates leave its family circle, I find that for the most part they look back to it with a store of
pleasant memories.
Considerable attention is always paid to musical training at Leopold House. All my little Handbell Ringers,
whose music is universally appreciated, are from this Home. Five or six of these little fellows, with their table of
bells, have attended public meetings in connection with the Homes for several years past. To these were added in
1887 a party of half a dozen little Scotch Bagpipers. The latter, gay in their tartans, and tuneful in their kilts,
have become at once the most attractive of all my wee musicians.
Here, as elsewhere throughout the Homes, the work has been greatly furthered during the bygone year by the
result of large extensions and alterations of premises, upon which the builders were engaged during 1886 and
1887. The remainder of the lease of the old premises of Leopold House, with eighty-one years to run, was acquired
by purchase in autumn of 1884 at a cost of £4,000 and extensions were only delayed by the lack of funds. A new
House has now, however, been built at the rear of the old premises, which accommodates 400 little boys, in lieu
of only 100 previously.
The new structure is roomy, and although plain and without ornament, it is fitted with every improvement which
the experience of many years has suggested as necessary. Adjoining this building there is a very useful detached
cottage, in which, in case of sudden illness arising, patients may be isolated, thus minimising the risk of contagion.
The following are the various rooms included in the new Leopold House; a large top Dormitory, containing 200
beds, with linen room attached, and apartments for the master and matron; lower Dormitory, with 70 beds,
containing also a matron‘s room; Dining Hall, with 450 seats; plunge Bath; in which 80 boys are daily bathed;
spacious Swimming Bath (with dressing-room); School and two smaller classrooms, with accommodation for
resident schoolmaster. In the old building is the Kitchen, in which
the food for the whole household is prepared; six small Dormitory
rooms; superintendent's and matron's Apartments; Office; and a
Playroom. All these, of course, in addition to various offices and a
very commodious playground.’
Unknown to almost everyone who lives in this area, the
‘Barnardo Connection’ still continues in two place names! We
have already heard above why ‘Leopold Street’ is no longer
‘Edward Street,’ but renamed to honour Prince Leopold who
opened Barnardo’s ‘Leopold House’, also named after him.
The 22-storey ‘Elmslie Point’ which stands today where
Leopold House once stood (seen to the left) is named after
Sarah (Syrie) Elmslie, the beloved wife of Thomas Barnardo!
The Edinburgh Castle Mission Church (no 3 on the map above, in St. Luke’s Parish at the time), had
the honour of being the final one of Dr. Thomas Barnardo’s buildings to feature in his story.
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He died in September 1905 and it was in the Mission Church that his body lay in state for 5 days
before his funeral. In the ‘Postcard of the Month’ no. 104 for January 2009 in the ‘East London
Postcard’ site the following account appeared:
‘Dr. Banardo’s Funeral Procession, Commercial Road
The Funeral of Dr
Barnardo was held on
Wednesday 27th
September 1905. The
Funeral Procession is seen
here nearing Stepney
Causeway where Dr
Barnardo’s had his Headquarters
and Boy’s Home,
opened in 1870. In 1866, he
had become a medical
student at the London
Hospital and started his work with homeless boys in the East End
soon after.
Dr Barnardo had died of a heart attack at his home in Surbiton on
the 19th September 1905. On Friday 22nd September 1905, his
body was moved to the Edinburgh Castle, Rhodeswell
Road, Limehouse, where it lay in state for several days,
allowing thousands of people to pay their last respects.
On the Wednesday,
large crowd
had gathered
out-side the
Edin-burgh Castle for the Funeral, swelled by children
given the afternoon off from Dr Barnardo’s Ragged
School nearby. The Funeral Procession started off at
noon, with two mounted policemen leading the
Procession, followed by 1500 boys from Barnardo’s
Homes. Next came the hearse bearing the coffin, filled
with flowers.
The coffin had a simple inscription that read: Thomas John Barnardo - died 19th September 1905. The hearse
was flanked by twenty-two pallbearers, who were Dr Barnardo’s co-workers. His empty hansom cab comes
next led by his coachman of many years, Peer. In the next two carriages were members of his family and
people from other organisations caring for children.
The Funeral Procession proceeded along Burdett Road and then Commercial Road. The whole route was
lined with people, many taking advantage of windows and door ways. The Funeral Procession stopped at
Stepney Causeway, so that members of his staff and children from the Home could also pay their last respects.
It moved off again down Commercial Road, then turned into Middlesex Street and arrived at a packed
Liverpool Street Station.
Here a special train waited to convey the Funeral Procession to Barkingside Station. The Funeral Procession
then proceeded to the Barnardo’s Girls’ Village Home at Barkingside. After remaining a few days in the
Village Church, giving time for others to pay their last respects, the body was cremated and the ashes buried
in the grounds of the Girls’ Village Home on Wednesday 4th October 1905.’
Dundee Courier: 21st September 1905
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This extract of dramatic events of national importance within the parish of St. Luke is taken from:
By Mrs. Barnardo & James Marchant, Secretary of the National Memorial to Dr. Barnado
With an Introduction by W. Robertson Nicoll
Hodder and Stoughton London 1907
‘The body was removed from his home on Friday, 22nd September, to the Edinburgh Castle, the scene of his early
ministry, where it lay in state for several days, whilst thousands of people — rich and poor, old and young -
passed before the flower-strewn coffin, paying their last tribute of affection. Three ragged urchins who had put
their mites together and made a shilling went into a florist's to buy a wreath. The surprised shopman asked, “Who
do you want it for?” “To put on Dr. Barnardo's coffin, sir,” was their reply. “He was a friend to chaps like us.”
On Sunday, 24th September, a memorial service was held in the Edinburgh Castle, attended by a vast concourse
of the poor amongst whom and for whom his whole life was spent. The following Wednesday, 27th September,
through streets full of mourners, according him an unpremeditated public funeral, such as no man had received
for generations, the long and mournful procession wended its solemn way to Liverpool Street railway station,
where it was met by Mrs. Barnardo, borne up in the moment of her intense grief by the reverent sympathy of a
world. The procession included 105 boys from Sheppard House, 235 from Leopold House, 30 from the Norwood
Home, 81 from Epsom, 355 from the Stepney Homes, 56 from the Youths' Labour House, 288 little boys from the
Watts Naval School, a representative group of 20 youths and young men formerly in the Homes, about 300 boys
from various Homes and branches in the provinces, and 91 boy emigrants (who left the following day for Canada):
some 1500 boys in all.
Following the hearse was the empty cab which Dr. Barnardo was wont to use, led by his coachman. Peer, who
had been in his service for 25 years. Then followed personal relatives, the President and Vice-Presidents of the
Homes, representatives of the General Council, distinguished friends of Dr. Barnardo, and supporters of his work,
representatives of numerous societies (N.S.P.C.C., C.E.W. and S., Dr. Stephenson's Homes, Stockwell
Orphanage, etc. etc.), members of the staff, matrons, wardens of the T.H.L., nurses and deaconesses, clerks of the
London and country Homes, and members of the 'Edinburgh Castle ' Mission.
As they bore his body through the streets of East London, lined by tens of thousands - merchant, clerk, and
crossing-sweeper, with heads uncovered in mutual respect - an old woman in rags pressed through the crowded
lines, and stretching out her bare arms and lifting her tearful face to the sky, cried out in a loud voice, “God, God,
give him back to us !”
The whole traffic of the station was suspended as the body, flanked by pall-bearers, according to his wish, of his
co-workers in the Homes, was borne to the funeral coach to the muffled sound of drum and the audible weeping
of ten thousand sorrowing souls. Thence it was conveyed to the Village Home at Barkingside. The public service,
conducted by the Right Reverend the Bishop of Barking, the Rev. H. Newton (vicar of the church at Surbiton
where Dr. Barnardo attended), and the Rev. Canon Fleming B.D., was held in a large marquee, crowded, in spite
of a deluge of rain.
A touching sermon was delivered by Canon Fleming:- “He takes his place” (he said) “to-day at the side of John
Howard, the friend of the prisoner ; at the side of Elizabeth Fry, the friend of the fallen ; at the side of Grace
Darling, the friend of the perishing ; at the side of William Wilberforce, the friend of the slave, of whom it was
beautifully said, ‘He went up to God bearing in his hands the broken fetters of 800,000 slaves.’ That we all know,
Barnardo has gone up to God, saying, in the words of Toplady : - “Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy
Cross I cling.” “To know him was to love him; to work with him was to catch a breath of the spirit of Christ. His
Christlike work won our gracious Queen Alexandra to be its Royal Patron, and with her characteristic
consideration for all around her, she has sent a touching message to Mrs. Barnardo, which she will always
treasure, as she will also the message of Princess Henry of Battenberg. Let us and all his devoted friends in Britain,
in Canada, in the Colonies, in the whole Empire, and in all the Churches, arise and dry our tears. ‘He, being dead,
yet speaketh.’ This is what he says to us: ‘It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones
should perish.’ And his 8500 children speak to us. They say: "We are orphans, fatherless or motherless, or
friendless, and now that we are doubly orphaned, O England, take care of us.”‘
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Finally … some glimpses in and near the parish comparing how things have changed – or not!
The northern end of Burdett Rd.
in the days of the first St. Paul’s,
Bow Common in 1908 …
And in 2010 …
In 1953 …
In 2002, a landscape of buildings
which could never have been
imagined in East London even 50
years previously …
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Burdett Rd., just before the railway bridge near the church in 1953 …
And in 2002 ….
In 1941 this was the northern end of
Burdett Rd. at Mile End, with ruined
buildings all around.
In 2003 this is the same
view – the great expanse
of Mile End Park to the
right was once housing
from end to end of
Burdett Rd.
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KEY to the ‘Then and Now’ photos:
The red letters on this map of 1914 indicate the approximate viewpoint with the red arrow
indicating the direction of view
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This is on the western boundary of the
parish, showing the Victorian Prince
Alfred pub and Clemence Street,
possibly in the early part of the 20th
The same view in 2010 – clearly one
side of Clemence Street (including
the Prince Alfred pub) survived the
War and the southern side did not.
The Lovat Arms pub around 1900 at the
junction of Thomas Rd., and Burdett Rd.
The spire of the old St. Paul’s, Bow
Common can be seen in the distance.
This pub was destroyed in 1941 and then
rebuilt post-War – I remember it being
there in my first years in the parish – an
undistinguished modern building. In the
general decline of the old public houses
it was then closed and demolished in
2004. The view below shows what has
replaced it.
Taken in 2015 this view shows none of the
visible buildings remain, though on the
opposite side of Burdett Rd. facing these the
Victorian buildings still remain intact.
Rather wonderfully, almost certainly the young
trees seen in the old view are the same as those
in the modern view though over a century older
– silent witnesses to all the changes and chances
of life in Bow Common. The present church is
hidden in the tree growth but located by the
glimpse of the highest floors of Elmslie Point.
- 309 -
This view of Burdett Rd, likely dates
from the early 1900’s.
In this view of 2015 no buildings
remain, on either side of the road.
However, the trees are almost
certainly the same as those seen above.
The modern railway bridge still
crosses the road where the Victorian
bridge once spanned Burdett Rd.
Again, from the early 1900’s this
view shows what lay on Burdett Rd.
across the road from St. Luke’s
Church. The Fire Station (below) was
directly opposite the church and the
large Victoria Hotel just some yards
to the south.
In 2015, new housing completed in
2013 is visible on the same site.
- 310 -
Directly opposite St. Luke’s Church in Burdett Rd. stood
the Fire Station. This view is from about 1904 and this
building seems to have survived war-time bombing as it
was closed only in 1968.
The view below in 2015 shows a totally different
appearance with one of the new pieces of housing
opened in about 2013, tacked on to existing older
housing stock. Our forebears could never have
imagined how their world would one day be
In another view from the early
1900’s three ‘Barnardo boys’ who
lived in Leopold House on
Burdett Rd., very near to the old
St. Paul’s, Bow Common, are
larking about opposite the Home
(with pillared portico) in which
they lived. Beyond is the railway
bridge and, as the title of the
postcard suggests, Burdett Rd.
station, though it is not entirely
clear which building this is.
The modern day view of 2015 has the 22
storey Elmslie Point rising where
Leopold House once stood but, apart
from the modern railway bridge
spanning Burdett Rd., nothing else
remains from those days more than a
century ago.
- 311 -
Probably in the early 1900’s again are
these external and interiors views of the
very grand East London Tabernacle at
the north end of Burdett Rd., near to
Mile End.
The modern building sits on
the same footprint and so must
be of similar size, though
nothing like as grand
This view of Burdett Rd. in 1900 is likely
to be also of the northern end of the road
– though the large building seen beyond
the end of the road is not identified.
- 312 -
This view of 1908 shows St.
Luke’s, Burdett Rd., with the
street lined on both sides with
housing and some shops. In the
distance is the ghost of the spire
of St. Paul’s, Bow Common
behind the railway arches.
This view of 2015 is such
a huge contrast with the
earlier view. All the
earlier buildings have
either been destroyed in
the War or redeveloped.
In fact there is a major
Sports Centre behind the
trees and bushes on the
right and a very full
housing estate behind the
trees on the left. Where
St. Luke’s Church once
stood is a large mound
with most people, perhaps, having no idea that a large church once stood there. In the distance
beyond the railway bridge no spire reaches skywards but instead the tower block of Elmslie Point
and then, just after that, the modern church of St. Paul’s, Bow Common.
ï‚¡1900 2015
All © DUNCAN ROSS 2015

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This detailed and authoritative guide is the painstaking, dedicated work of Father Duncan Ross, Vicar of St Paul's, Bow Common from 1995 - 2013.  

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© Duncan Ross 2016

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