Shortly after the First World War, four stained glass windows were installed at St. Clement’s Church, Park Avenue, as part of the memorial commemorating those parishioners who had lost their lives. Unveiled by the Bishop of Chelmsford in 1919, the windows depicted the Ilford parish churches of St. Clement, St. Mary, St. Andrew and St. Alban. A roll of honour was unveiled a year later in the form of an ornately carved oak screen comprising six panels, part of which was inscribed with a dedication referring to the memorial windows.
Following the Second World War, the congregation of St. Clement’s dwindled and it proved financially untenable to maintain the building in Park Avenue. In 1977, the church moved to Cecil Hall in Granville Road, less than a hundred metres away, and the old St. Clement’s Church was subsequently demolished to make way for an apartment block. The memorial oak panels were re-erected in Cecil Hall, and many of the windows (including those commemorating the fallen in the First World War) were removed from the old church and superimposed on windows in the new church.
Unfortunately, in January 1979, thieves posing as workmen stole 15 stained glass window panels which were never recovered.
In 2002, St. Clement’s closed and the memorial panels were moved into temporary storage under the care of the Essex Branch of the Western Front Association. Three years later, the six upper panel components were re-erected in one of the corridors at Redbridge Town Hall. The size of the memorial did not permit the lower section to be installed and so apart from one central panel the remaining five lower panel components (which were) were disposed of by permission of the church.
The central panel, which was retained, bore an inscription which referred to the memorial windows at St. Clement’s church. As it would not have made sense to include it alongside the roll of honour, the plaque was subsequently donated to Redbridge Museum. This plaque is now all that remains of the original window memorial.
Based on research by Patrick O’Mara
Information also kindly provided by Foster Summerson, former Chairman of the Essex Branch of the Western Front Association.
The Great War Memory and Ritual: Commemoration in the City and East London, 1916-1939 by Mark Connelly, 2002
Ilford Post 10th January 1979