All Saints' Church, East Finchley 
Living the Catholic faith in the Church of England


A Short History of All Saints'

The following is an adaptation of some information that was presented at the

Diamond Jubilee Feast of Dedication in 1952


In 1886 a Fund was opened with a view to building a Church to the south of the High Road. During that year a site, consisting of three building plots, was purchased in Durham Road, and the Church Commissioners gave an additional 200 feet in depth of land extending into Coldfall Wood. In July 1887 a three days’ Sale of Work raised the Building Fund to £400, and from 1888 – 90 another £300 was received. By 1891 a contract had been signed with Messrs. Cutts as architects.

On 2nd May 1891, at a service in the midst of a Church already far advanced, Mrs. Hamilton, of Brent Lodge, laid the memorial stone in the South pier of the Narthex and the Bishop of Marlborough preached the sermon. Towards the end of the year Mr. Hamilton promised another £500 if a similar sum was raised locally, and this led to the signing of the contract to complete the Nave, Aisles and West Front, thus providing accommodation for 550 persons at a total cost for the building of £5,372-7-0.

The original chairs, Chalice and Paten were provided by a donation from three friends of the Vicar of Holy Trinity (the Revd. H N Collier). Friends provided Altar Ornaments and furniture for the temporary Chancel and Sanctuary. The Church was consecrated on 4th January 1892 as a Chapel of Ease in the Parish of Holy Trinity by the Bishop of London, Dr Temple, who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury, and who was the father of the famous Archbishop (Willie Temple, to all his many friends), the Bishop of Marlborough acting as Assistant Bishop.

In 1900 a minute in the Easter Vestry Minute Book states that the Vicar appointed Mr. Close as his Warden for the ensuing year ‘and commented on the fact that this would be the last combined Vestry meeting of the two Churches’. Unfortunately, the records are not very explicit, as it was evidently considered that the details were too well known to need further explanation, forgetting that subsequent generations would know nothing beyond what was stated. By October 1900 we find the first Vicar of the Parish of All Saints’, the Reverend A W Armitstead, had been Instituted and Inducted. This began a long and fruitful Ministry that did not end until 1921. By 7th October 1911 we find the Foundation Stone of the Chancel and Sanctuary laid by the Vicar, the two Churchwardens being Mr T C Grimes and Mr F E James.

The beauty of the proportions of All Saints’ Church thus came into evidence for the first time, and all who are privileged to worship here must now express their gratitude for the care taken in completing the building as we know it. Apart from any Ornaments the building itself expresses the dignity and beauty of Catholic Worship.

In June 1921 the Reverend G H East was Instituted and Inducted as second Vicar, and thus began a Ministry that was destined to last for nearly twenty-five years, until 1946. It would be impossible to state in a few words what All Saints’ owes the Vicar and Assistant Curates who laboured during these years. The good foundations in the Faith laid by the first Vicar were built upon and there grew a devout and loyal congregation of faithful laity. The daily Mass and the Solemn Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation became the accepted way of worship. The Blessed Sacrament was reserved continuously. Year by year additional Ornaments were given by way of a thank-offering, including the beautiful Statue of Our Lady, and gradually but surely All Saints’ became a church adorned in the beauty of holiness and a Shrine equipped for full Catholic Worship,

In 1935, the old parish hall was built and it was used most evenings of the week by the various social and cultural organisations of the Church. In its heyday it was a well-equipped building with a good stage and switch-board, proper cloakrooms and a kitchen.

In February 1946 the Reverend P W Rushmer succeeded Father East as the Third Vicar. In common with most London Parishes, All Saints’ had suffered during the war years from evacuation and ever-moving and ever-growing population. However, owing again to the splendid foundation that had been laid and the loyalty and wonderful co-operation of the faithful laity, signs of a re-awakening after the war years were soon evident, and All Saints’ became once more ‘a family’ of loyal and devout sons and daughters of Holy Church. Not only were many additional Ornaments given for use in Worship, e.g. the complete re-furnishing of the Lady Chapel Sanctuary [note - this has since changed], and the decoration and re-furnishing of the High Altar, Ornaments and Tabernacle, but also many improvements and additions were made during those years by the way of a new heating system, re-wiring and re-lighting of the church, and the acquisition of a magnificent ‘Hunter Organ’. The worship and music was modelled on strict Liturgical lines in keeping with the somewhat ‘severe’ architecture of the Church.

As a thank-offering for all God’s Blessings to the church during its first sixty years a Fund was raised to be devoted to (a) the Missionary Work of the Church and (b) the erection of a Rood over the Chancel Screen.

More recent history

Since 1952 much has changed at All Saints. The parish hall mentioned above was sold off in the 1980s and the proceeds from that sale were used to re-order the church into the state in which you find it today.  A new West Door was installed and the Font moved into the North Aisle. A gallery was built and the organ moved into this gallery and a hall installed below the gallery. The Chancel Screen was moved to provide the wall between the new hall and the nave of the church. Modern kitchen and sanitary facilities were also installed and the heating and lighting of the Church modernised. The Choir of the original design was stripped out and this area was converted into a Sanctuary with a westward facing altar. A new sacristy was built in the area freed by the movement of the organ into the gallery. Brian Masters, late Bishop of Edmonton, presided at the service of rededication in 1990 (remembered on a plaque at the rear of the church).

Since the re-ordering, we have installed new glass West Doors which give a welcoming feel to the church.

The Organ

The organ originally stood in the Wesleyan Chapel in Clapham High Street.  It had been built for that church in 1878 by the firm of Alfred Hunter.  In 1941 the Wesleyan Chapel suffered severe damage and the church was put out of use.  In 1951 it was decided to sell the organ and so it found its way to East Finchley.  It was rebuilt here by the firm of Noel Mander.  It was the third instrument which All Saints had housed since being built in 1892.  Each had been larger than the last as the Anglo Catholic style of worship became established at the church and music played a more prominent part.

From 1951 to 1990 the organ stood in the North Transept where the present Sacristy is.  It was then removed to its present position in the newly created West Gallery during the reordering of the church.  The opportunity was taken to make some changes and the action was converted to electro pneumatic.  This meant that the console (keyboards etc) could be placed apart from the main body of the instrument thus enabling the player both to hear the instrument properly and to be in direct contact with the choir. This rebuild was undertaken by Bishop & Son.

Comparative costs are interesting. 

The organ was given to the Wesleyan Chapel by a member of their congregation who ‘defrayed all expenses incidental to its erection.’

In 1951 the cost of removal and rebuilding in All Saints was £2,453. 

In 1991 the cost was £55,200.

Powered by Church Edit