All Saints History
The church building was originally built at the end of the 19th century but destroyed, together with the vicarage, during WW2 as a result of enemy action. Canadian engineers built Canada Hall as a temporary church, giving the building its unique prairies architecture, from the rubble of the old church and the vicarage. A new church was built in the 1950s and Canada Hall became instead the church hall. It has recently undergone major refurbishment.
The Link Building connecting the church building and Canada Hall was completed in 2014 and is now in use.
Canada Hall History
On the evening of Saturday, the 19th April 1941, a German bomber dropped a landmine on parachute which exploded All Saints’ Church. It killed five people waiting at a bus stop, an air-raid warden and messenger who were just going on duty. It demolished half the church and wrecked the vicarage, houses and shops were devastated. The vicar’s sister was also killed and the vicar, Henry Baker, and his other sister badly injured.
At the time, a Canadian field Ambulance Unit, the 9th, and some units of the Royal Canadian Engineers were stationed nearby. In that Field Ambulance Unit was an Anglican Priest, the Revd. George Hedley Wolfendale. He had enlisted as a private soldier but later became an army chaplain. He had a dream of building the people of All Saints’ a new church, using the materials from the ruined church and vicarage, and the voluntary labours of the Canadian Engineers to whom he now ministered. On the 22nd March 1943 the work was begun. In an incredible five weeks the church was completed, the only materials being paid for being the cement and the paint. Eighteen Canadian Engineers did the work and the resulting church was consecrated by the Bishop of Southwark on Easter Day, the 25th April 1943.
In his address the Bishop “In the future, I hope that when the church is built again, this little building which you have, will still house some of the family life of the parish and all will be told the story of the Easter of 1943, that our Canadian kinsmen went out of their way to build a place in which our people might worship. And when we have got over this business and together have cleared the course for the next bit of history …. we shall remember … “.
On the 19th April 1952 the new All Saints’ building was consecrated on the site of the old. The temporary church built from the rubble of the old, having served as a centre of worship for nine years, then continued to serve the community as the Parish Hall – renamed ‘Canada Hall’.
In 1993, to mark the 50th Anniversary of Canada Hall special Jubilee celebrations were held. Bishop Roy of Southwark preached at the Jubilee Service which took place on Sunday, the 25th April when the Right Hon. Frederick Eaton, High Commissioner for Canada read the lesson.