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Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Waltham Forest (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 36600 88190



1802/0/10036 MARKHOUSE ROAD 19-APR-07 The Lighthouse Methodist Church

II Methodist Church, 1893, by J. Williams Dunford, reconfigured internally in 1979.

EXTERIOR: The church comprises two sections, the auditorium and a smaller range to the north. Both are two storeys and built with stock brick with red brick dressings. The auditorium section has a façade in a variant of the Queen Anne style to Markhouse Road and a tower, the lighthouse, on the corner of this and Downsfield Road. The façade is essentially of four bays although there is irregularity in the fenestration which creates a busy, quirky overall effect, particularly in combination with the asymmetry created by the lighthouse. Red brick colonnettes, or ribs, mark the bays and there are terracotta cornices and string courses across the façade and the pedimented gable end with its oculus. The latter has 'AD 1893' carved in the apex. To the ground storey, there are two double doors, the larger pair set under a canopy comprising a pediment carried on tall scroll brackets. There are also two triplets of round-headed windows with gauged red brick round arches. Plasterwork plaques above these read 'United Methodist' and 'Free Churches'. Another plaque reads 'U.M.F.C.'. The upper storey contains three single windows with segmental moulded terracotta surrounds and terracotta aprons ornamented with garlands. The windows and doors are original. The architecture is evocative of the Salvation Army Citadels of the same period. The red brick ribs are reminiscent of the armoury references employed in Salvation Army architecture to convey a fortress-like quality. They have the same effect at the Lighthouse Methodist Church, which, stylistically, is more a late C19 mission hall than a church.

The lighthouse is a circular turret with a steep slated octagonal spire topped by a domed lantern. The door at its base faces the corner, but provides a counterbalance to the identical door in the southernmost bay of the façade. The lintel contains the foundation stone, recording commencement of building in January 1892. Above this is a plaque announcing 'The Lighthouse' and above that a small shield bearing the inscription 'Have Faith in God'. The lighthouse has the same terracotta colonnettes and stringcourses as the façade and simple rectangular lights with plain lintels and cills, painted white. Two slit windows in the form of crosses (which also feature on Salvation Army Citadels) and the spiralling moulded string course, painted white, contribute to the lighthouse theme and the whimsical nature of the design. The architect's original drawings of the façade survive and reveal it has been little altered; a small turret on the south-east corner of the elevation was either not built or has been removed. The lighthouse turret is distinctive, particularly given the church's inland location, and is an uncommon feature of the design. Despite the obvious link between Christian imagery of Jesus as the Light of the World and the function of a lighthouse, there are no known examples of church designs which use a lighthouse architectural feature.

The side elevations are plainer, having regular fenestration with red brick flat arches set in relieving panels with red brick stepped tops. The same theme is continued on the two storey block to the north which has a canted bay front and a tiny oculus in the gable end, which appears to have been rebuilt in the late C20.

INTERIOR: Substantially altered in 1979, though the original configuration remains readable. The original galleried auditorium has been divided laterally and the ground floor then subdivided into four rooms. The iron columns which support the gallery are still visible. A staircase has been inserted in the centre of the building, giving access to the remodelled worship space above. The two original staircases, in the north-east and south-east corners of the building, retain their treads but the balusters appear to be later replacements and the stairwells have been panelled in the 1979 refurbishment. The upper auditorium retains its coffered ceiling, which indicates the changes that took place in 1979, most significantly the insertion of a partition wall. Behind this, in the 1979 inserted stairwell, the proscenium arch and balcony arcading of the original auditorium survive. These features are evocative of the Edwardian music hall appearance of the original interior. The organ survives, though re-sited, but the stained glass which once adorned the two windows behind the proscenium arch has been removed. Inside the second block are two rooms with surviving joinery including a fireplace and wall cupboards in the ground floor room.

HISTORY: The Lighthouse Methodist Church opened in 1893 and was a replacement for a house in Myrtle Road, Walthamstow which had served the group of Methodists, originally from a Wesleyan church in Hackney, who began the church mission in 1887. After the break with their parent church, the group planned a United Free Church (meaning that the minister's post would be unsalaried). An early supporter of the church was Captain King of the Bullard King Steamers, a company which ran the direct service from London to East African ports and in 1889 commenced sailings from India to South Africa to carry field labourers for sugar plantations. In 1889 Captain King donated the site on Markhouse Road and paid for the building, begun in 1892, the design and name of which are reminders of his seafaring activities. The church was designed by the architect J. Williams Dunford, about whom little is known. The lighthouse originally had a revolving light which beamed out on winter mornings during the Sunday service. The church was the best-attended nonconformist church in Walthamstow in 1903 with congregations of over 1,500.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The Lighthouse Methodist Church, which opened in 1893, was designed by J. Williams Dunford. Its patron was Captain King of the Bullard King Steamers and the design and name of the church are reminders of his seafaring profession. The cross-shaped slit windows and other armoury references connect the building to late C19 missionary movements such as the Salvation Army. Despite alterations to the interior, the church is of special architectural interest, as evidenced by its curious lighthouse design, untypical use of a variant of the Queen Anne style and remaining internal features which evoke the music hall character of the auditorium. There is also historic significance: the church is illustrative of the C19 pattern of swift Methodist church building which was dependent on the support of patrons. The interior has been much altered in the 1979 reconfiguration and, although the elements of the original features that survive are important, the special interest is concentrated on the exterior.


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

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