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The Great Fire of Limehouse in 1850 by Michael Murnoir

Recently I was contacted by Michael Murnoir who has close ties with Limehouse and has agreed to share some of his stories and memories. In his first contribution, Michael tells the story of the little known Great Fire of Limehouse in 1850 which severely damaged St Anne’s Church. 

Being back in Limehouse last Sunday after some few years away it was great to walk down Narrow Street, up Three Colts Street and arrive at St Anne’s.  What a magnificent landmark, the church has been for nearly 300 years old.  It set me thinking of its past and wondering if it is still marked on navigation charts issued by Trinity House.  It probably still has Royal permission to fly the White Ensign, unchanged since the days of Queen Anne. The Tatham’s tomb is still beside the church but inaccessible now with the ‘new’ fence around the churchyard.  Years ago my mate, Mike Borman, (now dead) and I would sit there and chat in the sun.  The Tathams were an old family with a bit of money.  The local joke was they all got married at St Dunstans in Stepney and buried at St Anne’s because it was closer to Heaven!!

Limehouse Church – 1780

The church has faced some major disasters over the years, it was repaired after bomb damage in World War Two.  It took a long time and a lot of effort to raise the money for that.  But the Church had been badly damaged before that;

How many know of or can recall the story of the ‘Great Fire of Limehouse’, I came across  the following report which may be of interest.  The fire was on Good Friday 1850 and reported the next day.

London Evening Standard on the 30th March 1850, ‘Total Destruction of Limehouse Church by Fire’:

‘We had the lamentable task yesterday of announcing the total destruction by fire of the beautiful parish church of St. Anne, Limehouse. We now append some further particulars:-

It appears that at seven o’clock yesterday morning a man named Wm. Rumbold, who lights the stove fires, and attending to the heating of the church, entered the edifice and proceeded with his duties. He ignited both the furnaces, and at a quarter past eight o’clock was about to satisfy himself of the degree of temperature in the interior of the church, when he perceived a strong smell of burning wood, and shortly afterwards saw a quantity of smoke issue from the roof. Impressed with a fear that something serious had happened, Rumbold ran off to the residence of Mr. George Coningham, the beadle and engine keeper of the parish, who resides about 150 yards distant from the church.

Coningham instantly returned with Rumbold to the church, on reaching which, Coningham ascended through the belfry and immediately opened a door over the organ loft leading to a vast chamber extending over the whole body of the church. As soon as the door was opened, Coningham and Rumbold were both driven back and nearly suffocated by a rush of smoke and rarefied air which issued out of this chamber, and clearly indicated where the seat of the mischief really was. 

Coningham and Rumbold, with a view to rousing the neighbourhood, rang the two bells.  An immense congregation of the inhabitants very speedily assembled.  The fire had by this time begun to make its way through the roof.  As yet there was no engine on the spot, and but a very scanty supply of water flowed from the street plugs.

The Rev. George Roberts, curate of the parish, who had by this time arrived. headed a large party of gentlemen, and by their exertions all the registers and other valuable parochial documents have been fortunately saved. 

The progress of the flames was so rapid that not a little risk was incurred in this good work.

Several engines had arrived before the roof fell, and a very good supply of water was at length obtained, but from the great difficulty of getting at the spot where the fire raged, all the efforts of the firemen were comparatively fruitless, and Mr Braidwood, the leader of the force, at once pronounced that any hope of saving the interior of the church was quite out of the question. 

The church was one of the most perfect interiors of the period in which it was built – Queen Anne’s time.  It possessed a magnificent organ, built by Richard Bridge, in 1741, and a superb altar window of painted glass.’.

The pall of smoke must have been immense and the crowd large and sombre.  After the Great Fire the rebuild took place from 1851 to 1857 and was supervised by Messrs John Morris and Philip Hardwick.  The font dates from the restoration carried out after the fire.

I stopped by the church and enjoyed listening to part of the service, and noticed the church is being repaired again. There is a donation box in there to help with the work, some of which is already in progress.

It is one more episode in the remarkable story of survival of this beautiful building.

While reminiscing I recalled the old Limehouse question

‘How far is it from the Cape of Good Hope to Limehouse Church?

The answer was the width of Commercial Road.  Limehouse Church stood on one side of the road and The Cape of Good Hope pub on the other.’

Michael Murnoir

 

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Visiting the Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019 – 30th June

Summer has finally arrived and it is time to enjoy some of the outside delights of the Island. On a sleepy Sunday morning, I made my way to Mudchute Park & Farm for the Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019.

The show takes place over the weekend and allows city dwellers to enjoy some of the delights of country life.

Rare breed sheep from London’s City Farms are shown in livestock shows,

with categories such as best young handlers, primitive sheep and best lambs.

Craft creators, wood workers and dry stone wall makers are demonstrating  their crafts

and local market stall holders are selling their creations.

Visitors are treated to a large number of attractions and can enjoy a stroll around the Park & Farm . The Mudchute Agricultural Show is fast becoming one of the main highlights of the Island events year.

Mudchute Park & Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity, with a working farm, stables and a wide range of education activities.

Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019 takes place on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th of June between 11am – 4pm

Lower Field, Mudchute Park and Farm, Isle of Dogs ,London E14 3HP

Entry is Free

For more information, visit the Mudchute Park and Farm website here

Farewell to the Mexican Tall Ship Cuauhtémoc

Photo by Eric Pemberton

After a few days in West India Dock,  the ARM Cuauhtémoc tall ship left the dock to continue her travels around the world. Fortunately one of our regular contributors, Eric Pemberton was on hand to record the ship leaving the dock.

Photo by Eric Pemberton

The ARM Cuauhtémoc  is a sail training tall ship that is part of the Mexican Navy, She is one of four sister ships that were built by the Naval Shipyards of Bilbao in 1982 to a 1930s design similar to the famous German Tall ship Gorch Fock.

Photo by Eric Pemberton

The Cuauhtémoc is a sailing ambassador for her home country and is a frequent visitor to many of world ports, having sailed over 400,000 nautical miles (700,000 km) in her 23 years of service. She has also appeared in a number of Tall Ships races all over the world.

One of the joys of living on the Isle of Dogs is to see some wonderful ships going into the dock and up and down the river.

Tall Ship Tenacious in West India Dock

After a very quiet period we seem to have had a flurry excitement in West India Dock with the arrival of the HMS Enterprise, a Mexican tall ship and now a regular visitor,  the STS Tenacious has berthed in the dock.

The Tenacious is a wooden sail training ship which was specially designed to be able to accommodate disabled sailors. Launched in Southampton in the year 2000, it is one of the largest wooden tall ships in the world. It is 65 metres long with a beam of 10.6 metres at its widest point.

The Tenacious and the Lord Nelson  are owned by the UK-based charity the Jubilee Sailing Trust who have for many years have pioneered sailing for the disabled. The Jubilee Sailing Trust became a registered charity in 1978 and was the brainchild of Christopher Rudd, a school teacher and sailor who wanted to give the disabled children he taught the same experiences his able-bodied students had.

Since its launch Tenacious has taken nearly 12,000 people sailing of these 3,000 were physically disabled and 1,000 were wheelchair users.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Tall Ship Cuauhtémoc in West India Dock

The West India Dock is quite full today with the HMS Enterprise  and the ARM Cuauhtémoc which is a sail training tall ship that is part of the Mexican Navy.

She is one of four sister ships that were built by the Naval Shipyards of Bilbao in 1982 to a 1930s design similar to the famous German Tall ship Gorch Fock.

The Cuauhtémoc is a sailing ambassador for her home country and is a frequent visitor to many of world ports, having sailed over 400,000 nautical miles (700,000 km) in her 23 years of service. She has also appeared in a number of Tall Ships races all over the world.

The ship has around 186 officer and crew and 90 trainees.

At this time, it is not known if she will be open to the public, last time when she visited West India Dock in 2016, she was open for a number of days.

 

 

 

 

HMS Enterprise in West India Dock

It has been very quiet in West India Dock recently but today we welcome the HMS Enterprise which is one of the Royal Navy’s most advanced survey vessels and also acts as a floating base for mine countermeasures activities.

The ship is 90.6 m (297 ft 3 in) long, has a beam of 16.8 m (55 ft 1 in) and draught of 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in).

HMS Enterprise is the tenth ship to bear this name in the Royal Navy and is a multi-role survey vessel, she has a sister ship, HMS Echo, and together they make up the Echo class of survey vessels.

HMS Enterprise was built by Appledore Shipbuilders and was launched in 2002, and commissioned in 2003.

Photograph from Eric Pemberton

Enterprise’s crew consists of 72 personnel, with 48 on board at any one time. The ship is operationally available 330 days a year.

Photograph – Eric Pemberton

Over the past five years, she’s been involved in a range of activities, from detecting mines in the Arabian Gulf to surveying hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean floor.

The good news is that the ship is open to visitors on Saturday 22nd 2019, to have a visit you must get a ticket from the Eventbrite website.

Many thanks for the photographs from Eric Pemberton of the ship coming into the dock

For more information about tickets, visit the Eventbrite site here

 

The Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019 – 29th and 30th June

Get away from the urban jungle and get a taste of the countryside with the Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019. The show takes place over two days and allows city dwellers to enjoy some of the delights of country life.

Mudchute will welcome rare breed sheep from London’s City Farms and beyond for two days of livestock shows, with categories such as best young handlers, primitive sheep and best lambs.

Test your baking and culinary skills by entering the fresh produce competitions which will take place on Saturday with cakes and bakes as well as jams, chutneys and more. For those whose passion is growing, the hanging baskets and vegetable box competitions are not to be missed. Community participation is encouraged and free registrations are open from 10am on the day.

Fleece spinners, wood workers and willow weavers will demonstrate their crafts and local market stall holders will sell their creations. There will be a Shetland pony photo booth and raffle with proceeds going directly towards the upkeep of the Mudchute Park & Farm.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their own picnic or enjoy a meal at Mudchute Café, Ruby Red tea caddy or the food truck.

MasterChef semi-finalist Annie McKenzie and team will close the day bringing food and theatre together in a production of The Wind in the Willows, an immersive dining experience like no other (book tickets ahead).

Mudchute Park & Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity, with a working farm, stables and a wide range of education activities.

Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019 takes place on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th of June between 11am – 4pm

Lower Field, Mudchute Park and Farm, Isle of Dogs ,London E14 3HP

Entry is Free

For more information, visit the Mudchute Park and Farm website here