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St John the Evangelist Churchyard
All Saints' Churchyard 16k
St John the Evangelist Churchyard  
First records of Stratford date from the late 11th century, the name meaning 'street by the ford'. Until the first half of the 19th century, Stratford was a village in the country, but it grew quickly. Even before Stratford Station opened in 1839, it was served by coaches going between London and Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. Rch City merchants began to choose to live in Stratford. At that time it was part of the parish of West Ham Church but by the late 1820s there was a need for a new church to serve the growing population. In 1832 18,000 was raised by wealthy parishioners for the proposed church to be built on the village green, a site occupied by a blacksmith, workshops, yards, a garden and watch house. The plans included vaults beneath the church and a large graveyard.

St John's was completed in 1834, although there were later additions to the building and its furnishings, particularly in 1884. The church commemorates the geologist Sir Antonio Brady who lived in Stratford and was buried in the churchyard on his death in 1881. His collection of prehistoric animals is part of the national collection in the British Museum, but he also played an important part in preserving Epping Forest as public open space. One of the donors to the new church building fund was the grandfather of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins whose family lived in The Grove. Manley Hopkins was baptised at the church in 1844; he later turned to the Roman Catholic Church and trained for the Jesuit priesthood when he was in his 20s. In 1878 the elaborate Martyrs' Memorial was erected in the churchyard at the instigation of the vicar, Revd. William Bolton, a fervent Protestant. It commemorates 18 Protestants burnt at the stake at Stratford in 1556 for refusing to renounce their faith, 13 of whom were burnt together on 27 June, the largest group to be burnt at the same time in the country. Their names are listed on the 65 foot high hexagonal stone and terracotta monument.

By the early 20th century, the population of Stratford had grown greatly due to the industrial growth which had taken place in the area, particularly the docks and riverside industries, although unemployment and poverty were also rife. During World War II the church crypt was used as a shelter for local people and the area suffered badly from bombing, with 76 nights of continual bombing save only 1 night's break.The church itself did not suffer a direct hit, although roof and windows were damaged and restoration took place between 1951 and 1955 when the new East Window, designed by Gerald Smith, was completed. From 1958-78 the vicar was Charles Fox, and during this period the graveyard was largely cleared and made into lawns. There are some tombs remaining on the south side of the church. In the 1980s the church exterior was cleaned and cast-ion railings with elaborate finials were replaced around the churchyard, the original cast iron fencing having been removed during the war. .

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