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The Foundation Stone of the new church of St. Paul was laid on Saturday afternoon 24th January 1903 by Lady Florence Cecil, in the presence of a large gathering of friends of the church. An awning was erected over the site and some hundreds crowded into and around it, including the Bishop of Colchester, the Vicar (the Rev. J. P. Shawcross), the Curate (the Rev. J. G. Deighton), and several other clergy. Lady Florence was driven up in a closed carriage, along with the Bishop of Colchester and on her Ladyship`s arrival she was presented with a lovely bouquet by Miss Janetta Aitchison, daughter of Councillor Aitchison.
The Bishop, clergy and choir robed in an adjacent house and came in procession to the stone, the rear being brought up by the two churchwardens Archer Moss and W. Clark.
The service began with a hymn, followed by responsive sentences, Psalm 84, ‘O how amiable are they dwellings, thou Lord of hosts …’, and prayers.
The first part of the service was conducted by the Rev. J. P. Shawcross and the latter part by the Bishop. Mr. Chancellor, JP, then presented Lady Florence Cecil with a beautiful silver trowel, bearing the inscription “Presented to Lady Florence Cecil upon the occasion of her laying the Foundation Stone of St. Paul`s Church, Goodmayes, January 24th 1903, by the architects.” Her ladyship briefly expressed her thanks and then spread the mortar on the brickwork and the stone was lowered into position and well and truly laid, with these words, uttered by Lady Florence in reverent and distinct tones “In the faith of Jesus Christ, we place this stone, in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The stone has this inscription engraved upon it: “This foundation stone of St. Paul`s Church was laid in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by Lady Florence Cecil, January 24th 1903.”
The Bishop of Colchester, in the course of a short address, said they did not forget that this was a sad time for this diocese. Their dear Bishop had passed away, exhausted by his work, and more particularly by the increasing work of this part of his diocese. There was not a greater problem to his heart and mind than that of providing for the spiritual necessities of the enormous populations of London over the Border – a problem which they at Goodmayes were trying, to some extent, to solve. Their Bishop was at rest; his work was done bravely and well; but it left them a splendid legacy of work to be done on the lines that he had laid down; and they prayed God to send them another Bishop after the heart of the one they had just lost. The problem of keeping pace with the growth of population was increasing every year for the Church, through nobody`s fault. Forty-five thousand people had been added to this district, and providing for them all seemed altogether beyond their powers and means. Goodmayes was almost on the outskirts of suburban London, and in terms of providing church accommodation they were not so far behind as the church unfortunately was in some other parts of the district. He congratulated them upon having taken up this work at so early a stage and pointed out that it was far better that the people, when they came to a new district, should find church and clergy ready to welcome them, than for them to come and find nowhere to go, and so gradually sink down into indifference and disregard of spiritual things. He trusted that the spirit would burn brightly.
It would be a happy day when that little bit of church should be ready for the worshippers. This was the eve of St. Paul`s Day and it was under the auspices of this name that the church was being begun. St. Paul was the great missionary to the Gentiles and he was therefore a very appropriate patron saint for a church in that district. God removed his workmen; but he continued his work; and he trusted that God would continue to help and prosper and protect them through all the trials and difficulties of life for many generations to come.
Between twenty and thirty prettily dressed children then brought purses of money and gave them to Lady Florence Cecil who graciously received them with smiles and a few words of thanks to each, and placed the gifts upon the stone. After the closing hymn, the Bishop pronounced the Blessing and the proceedings terminated.
The company then adjourned to the Central Hall, Chadwell Heath for tea and talk. The want of a public hall at Goodmayes was made. During the tea, Rev. J.P. Shawcross said that it was a proud day for all of them, because they entered upon the joy of achievement. During the last eighteen months they had had a great deal of work to prepare the plans and make arrangements for them to be carried out. The members of the committee had had many perplexities, difficulties and problems and many worries to endure, but now they could strike a more cheerful note. He was sure they all felt very much honoured in having with them the representative of a noble house, bound up as it had been in the past with the history of this country and associated as it had been with the church work and church extension, and they certainly felt very much honoured that a representative of that noble house had come to help them and bid them God-speed in their work. He also thanked Lady Florence Cecil and hoped that she would be able to see her way to be present at the opening. The Bishop had said that had been one of the best sort of functions he had ever been to. He considered they had done it extremely well.
The entertainment commenced. The Goodmayes orchestra, under the brilliant conductorship of Mr. Kale, rendered a selection in excellent style. Mr. Mann proved very successful in the song, “The Sentinel, am I.” The solo, “Bring back the Sunshine”, was prettily rendered by Miss Foster and the Goodmayes orchestra gave another very suitable selection. Mr. Youngman`s rendering of “The Valley of Shadows” was so good that he had to respond to an encore. Miss Williams sang “A Dream of Paradise” with exquisite taste and sweetness. The orchestra rendered a further selection and Mr. Mann sang “The Song of the Toreador.” Miss Foster received an encore for her next song and Miss Wrigley rendered a violin solo in very good style. The orchestra played another selection and Mr. Youngman was heard to good advantage in the solo “I`ll sing thee songs of Araby,” and the programme concluded with an encore to a song by Miss Williams.