Many people know St Mary the Virgin Rotherhithe, the historic parish church for the area but at the other end of Rotherhithe Street lies another – Holy Trinity. Ed Aldred the Church Warden gives us some insight into their history, the building and the congregation there. Tomorrow (13 Dec 2014) Holy Trinity has a Family Day running from 10:00-14:00 with fun for all the family in the Hall, 11:00-16:00 cake and coffee in the church itself and 18:00-22:30 a disco, buffet and bar in the Hall. The evening costs £7.50 for adults and £3.50 for kids
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As you travel home along Rotherhithe Street on the C10 bus you may fail to notice Holy Trinity Church. It is pretty well hidden but this church really is worth searching out! OK, I’m one of the church wardens so I am a bit biased!
Our parish covers an area of the former Surrey Docks. The old community has been destroyed by the docklands re-development since the 1970s and the new population is young and quite transitory. People are now drawn here from all over the world to work in the new financial district just across the river. At Holy Trinity Church we try to expand our spiritual role to provide a hub for a new community to form around.
Before 1800 the only Anglican church in Rotherhithe was St. Mary’s, at the western end of the peninsula, but during the nineteenth century there was a huge expansion of the docks. This led to the establishment of Holy Trinity and three other new Anglican churches along with many of other denominations. They all ministered to the influx of ship-builders, dockers and their families. Ministering to different needs were over 150 pubs, 57 of them on Rotherhithe Street alone!
The original Holy Trinity Church was built in 1838, in typical neo-Gothic style, on land given by the Commercial Dock Company. In 1940 it became one of the first churches in London to be destroyed in the second world war.
The present church building, completed in 1960, is a fine example of 1950’s architecture. The interior is light and welcoming, has a distinctive curved ceiling and a wonderful acoustic. A very striking mural, perhaps not to everyone’s taste, covers the whole of the wall behind the altar. It was painted by Hans Feibusch (1898-1998), a Jewish artist who left Germany in the 1930s and became a British citizen.
The previous Rotherhithe community existed because the docks provided employment. Social life revolved around the area’s many pubs, shops and churches. These days you most likely travel to work outside SE16, your local pub closed last year and you shop on-line. Holy Trinity and St. Mary’s are now the last two Anglican churches in Rotherhithe. The other three are only remembered in the names of streets or schools.
So how do we help to re-build a community among an every changing population? By making Holy Trinity a warm, friendly, welcoming place, which works hard at being a family; often for people whose real family is thousands of miles away. Part of being a family is that the church acts as the core for social activity.
We provide premises for a day nursery and, in an area with no other Community Hall, we offer a venue for group meetings, parties and family celebrations. Mothers with young children can feel very isolated but our mid-week service aims to be child friendly and to provide a chance for socialising over a cup of tea or coffee.
Our adult choir provides a weekly opportunity for singers of all abilities to make music together. There are no auditions and everyone is welcome on Monday evenings. After rehearsing we all adjourn to a local pub to set the world to rights over a few drinks.
Christmas is a great time to visit Holy Trinity. The choir will sing at our Carol Service on 21st December and on Christmas Eve we have a children’s crib service and a traditional Midnight Mass.
The church is at the eastern end of Rotherhithe Street, directly opposite the Surrey Docks Farm. Details of church services and more local history are on our web site www.holy-trinity-rotherhithe.org.uk
Or visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/HT.Rotherhithe