Dartford Workhouse Chapel
The Workhouse was first built in 1729 to house those who were either unable to work through age or disability or unable to find work.New and extended facilities were built in 1836. Many of the functions of the workhouse developed into a hospital and the workhouse ceased to exist in 1929. It was then known as King Edward Avenue Hospital and later West Hill Hospital. The hospital closed in 1997 and the hospital buildings demolished but the 1836 workhouse buildings have been retained and used as offices.
The chapel opened in 1878 superseded one previously accommodated in the main workhouse. The west wall of the chapel once housed two stained-glass windows designed and manufactured by Charles Eamer Kempe, which were donated by nearby Holy Trinity Church.
‘St Michael’ was destroyed in 1940, when a bomb fell on the adjacent hospital, destroying a ward, and killing 22 patients and two nurses.
‘St Gabriel’ was removed upon the closure of the chapel in 1998, and today resides two miles away in Darent Valley Hospital.
Several years ago, the derelict chapel was gutted by fire, leaving the internal structure exposed to the elements. Subsequent years of vandalism and weather damage have left very little of the original structure to be salvaged.
A proposal by developers explores an alternative to refurbishing the building, in favour of demolishing it and rebuilding the Chapel on a like for like basis with the original exterior of the building will be replicated & divided into two 2 storey residential units.
East Ham Cemetery, E6 - Wartime damage?
East Ham Cemetery also known as East Ham Jewish Cemetery opened in 1919 and belongs to the Burial Society of the United Synagogue, Ilford. I met the groundsman of this very well kept cemetery who showed me these damaged headstones which he believes to be shrapnel damage or bullet holes from a dogfight. The damaged headstones form a diagonal line across the centre of the cemetery. Various pieces of shrapnel have been discovered around the cemetery over the years. A V2 rocket caused devastation just outside of the cemetery.
The cemetery has the grave of Aaron Kosminski, a suspect in the Whitechapel Murders.In 2014, author Russell Edwards claimed to have proven Kosminski's guilt using untested methods for ascertaining a link via DNA evidence. (Naming Jack the Ripper by Russell Edwards)
St Mary Magdalene Churchyard - East Ham, E6
St Mary Magdalene Church built in the year 1137 is the oldest Norman church in London that is still in weekly use and has a 9½ acre churchyard (one of the largest in London) which is now managed as a nature reserve by the London Borough of Newham. The Nature Reserve was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983.
The churchyard was officially closed for burials in 1974 and became quite a wilderness before becoming a nature reserve. Indeed, these days much of the graveyard is still quite overgrown with volunteers always required to help manage the site. Many of the graves are subsiding probably due to the fact that this area was originally on the edge of marshland.
Among the many graves and tombs in the churchyard is a memorial for two of the crew of the SS Titanic