The Strangest Laindon Church

Laindon's Theomonistic Church

It seems that Laindon and Langdon Hills had an extraordinary number of churches relative to its population. The two large establishment churches were, of course, St Nicholas and St Mary and All Saints. In the little more than half a mile from the railway station to Bebington’s corner there must have been over six churches. St Teresa the Catholic church was almost opposite the school. There was a Baptist church, a Methodist church, Elim Pentecostal church, their social halls and probably other churches along that same stretch of road that I have forgotten. Other churches were scattered throughout the community including the Manor Mission. Satellites, or missions, were established by St Nicholas and St Mary’s and perhaps by other churches although I cannot vouch for the latter.

Two mission churches of St Nicholas were St Michael located south of Markham’s Chase School in the Green Lane area and St Peter located behind the the Hiawatha on St Nicholas Lane. The latter had a much used social hall on the opposite side of the road.

It seems that the mission churches were all uniform in size and construction. A wooden construction with a small porch overhung the front double door. The door opened into a single bare room. Unadorned and without decoration, folding chairs or benches might be provided for the congregation. No stained glass, nothing to indicate it was a place of worship. They were identical.

The strangest of these churches was the Theomonistic Church in Pound Lane. I do not know when the church was founded nor do I know when it ceased to function as a church. I only knew the building, the same wooden, one roomed building with a small overhanging porch described above, when it was the Regal Club. My father was a member and I was there on occasion with my parents. The single room was Spartan in the extreme. There was room in one corner for a dart board. Perhaps up to a dozen tables were scattered around the room sitting four to a table. In the opposite corner was what passed for the bar — a four or five foot long counter behind which perched Mr Nuth who either owned or run the club. His son Alec Nuth was a year ahead of me at Chelmsford Tech. The Nuth family lived close by in either Pound Lane or St Nicholas Lane.

The building appears to have been built for the Theomonistic Church. How long they continued in existence I do not know. They seem to have had a very different belief which is described as “The evolutionary book of fulfillment of prophecy which John calls the bitter and sweet open book and everlasting Gospel (Revelation 10:17914:6) being the authentic continuation and consummation of the Jewish and Christian bibles and other sacred books namely the testament of God with men of today and all the future in the Psychic Age or Theomonistic Era which started 1916 A.D.”

I had never heard of the Theomonistic Church until I stumbled on to it as the precursor to the Regal Club. I wonder what the surviving members of the church thought when their church building became a bar and working men’s social club? Most of Laindon’s early churches seem to have hung on and the passing of the Theomonistic Church seems to have gone unnoticed — and perhaps unlamented.

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  • Hi Alan.  I was also a little surprised with Donald’s comment of living opposite the Regal Club. I lived in Pound Lane and I thought that the houses opposite did not go up until the early 1950s.

    The question you ask of why there are so many churches in the Laindon and Langdon Hills area. From reports my understanding is that when the two areas started to expand from the 1890s through to the first world war ie; the early plotland era. People moving in from London were a little shocked to find only two Church of England Churches ie: St Nicholas, Laindon and St Mary’s, Langdon Hills, so they set about setting up mission churches and you will find that many of them were built around 1905/7. I can give more accurate dates if required. Ken

    By Ken Porter (28/08/2017)
  • Hi Ken. Your explanation seems reasonable given that the influx of east Londoners and the founding of the churches happened around the same time. However it raises a couple of further questions in my mind. I am surprised that the east Londoners placed much of a priority on religion at all. My limited knowledge says that they were a pretty rough and independent lot given more to the boozer than to church. Or was that just my family? Second, it would seem to infer the great majority were dissenters or, as Thomas Hardy called them, “chapel folk”. Was St. Teresa, the Roman Catholic church, one of those built in that time period?

    By Alan Davies (28/08/2017)
  • Hi Ken. I was completely unaware of the “Apostolic Church”. It sounds as if it operated from 1945 or 46 until 1949. I finished at Langdon Hills School in 1945, on to LHR until 1947, then on to Chelmsford Tech until 1950. We had also moved from Raglan Road in Berry Lane to the new King Edward estate in January 1947. We were the second family to move to the estate (2 King Edward Terrace), my father having lost the toss of a coin to Mr Chapman, also of Berry Lane where the road does a sharp turn at the intersection of Samuel Road, as to who should move into 1 King Edward Terrace which was ready two weeks earlier. Consequently we were at the other end of the village.

    The “Apostolic Church” must have been on the south side of the High Road and Alexander Road. Alexander Road terminated at the High Road and on the northern corner was the Roman Catholic Church, St Teresa. Or so says my memory.

    Donald Joy says he lived opposite the Regal Club in Pound Lane from 1948 onward. At the time I was first taken to the Regal Club (which incidentally was anything but regal) by my parents there were no buildings opposite. It was all green fields from Pound Lane’s east side up to St Nicholas. When this was I am not sure but it was certainly during the war.

    By Alan Davies (27/08/2017)
  • As noted in this article, and in others, Laindon and Langdon Hills contained a wide array of churches. Established churches and non conformist churches seemed to flourish equally. Ken Porter’s fresh mention of the Apostolic Church founded by an ex German POW and the decidedly odd Theomonistic Church founded in what was later the Regal Club add to the collection. My question is why? Why did the village have so many churches? They must have been well supported to continue. Many of them are still in existence. Why? Surrounding villages certainly did not have a similarly large number of churches. The population was not larger than the other villages. Perhaps a much greater percentage of the population came from east London than was the case in surrounding villages. Does it then follow that east Londoners were much more church going than the long established Essex rural population? This does not seem credible to me. But then the question remains unanswered. Why so many different churches in the Laindon and Langdon Hills area compared to surrounding areas?

    By Alan Davies (27/08/2017)
  • Hi Alan.  Interesting piece, I lived in Pound Lane and obvious knew the Regal Club and I had been told that it was once a church but I never knew its name, I do now, thank you.

    However one church you have missed in Langdon Hills but I do not expect you to have been aware of it. In fact I should not expect many were aware of it. It was held in a bungalow called ‘Cornerstone’ on the corner of Alexander Road and the High Road. The bungalow is still there. The church ‘Apostolic Church’ was set up just after the war by Waldemar Duemke who had been a POW at the Langdon Hills Camp. It ran for a few years before ceasing in I believe 1949. If you want to know more you need to read my book ‘German P.O.W Camp 266 Langdon Hills’

    By Ken Porter (26/08/2017)
  • Hi Alan,

    I am interested by your comment that St. Peter’s church was behind the Hiawatha. I had assumed that the building on the corner of St. Nicholas Lane was the church. There is always something new to learn!

    Editor.  The building on the corner of St Nicholas Lane and the High Road was St. Peter’s hall.

    By Paul Stickland (22/08/2017)
  • Mr Nuth lived at St Nicholas Stores, 53 St Nicholas Lane, selling the store to my father c.1947/8.  There were Nuths also living in St Nicholas Lane in one of the bay fronted houses standing at the foot of the hill leading to St Nicholas Church.  Alec was a member of Orsett Golf Club but my husband has not seen him there of late.  

    By Georgina Nottage nee Ellingford (22/08/2017)
  • Bill Nuth lived with his family in the left half of a pair of semi-detached two storey houses in St Nicholas Lane, between Pound Lane and what is now known as Church Hill. Back in the day Church Hill was actually a continuation of St Nicholas Lane. 

    I lived directly opposite the Regal Club and did so since 1948 and was never aware of it being anything other than that, nor was it ever mentioned. 

    By Donald Joy (22/08/2017)
  • Just a quick comment, I thought St Peters Church was a rather sparse building on the corner of Claremont Road and St Nicholas Lane. The building opposite was the Hall where Girl Guides would congregate. When they were there on a summer’s evening we would stand and talk to them and although some of them were obviously a bit older than me I found them all fascinating as you do at the age of 14 or so. I was chatting to some of the Guides one day with Dave Woodley who lived in Claremont Road and one of the girls was flirting quite openly with him, brilliant times and I learnt quite a lot from their conversation!

    Going back to St Peter’s church, I have memories of it being painted a rust red colour, I wonder if it had metal cladding of some kind, I don’t remember it being wooden, as the Hall was. Maybe Nina has better recollections of the Church and Hall. Good times back in the day I wish I could re-live some of them.

    By Richard Haines (22/08/2017)
  • Richard, I located St Peters as “behind the Hiawatha” while you locate it as “on the corner of Claremont Road and St Nicholas Lane”. I think we are both correct. We are just describing it from different vantage points. It is the same place. At least it is according to my memory.

    My girl friend of the time attended St Peters (in the choir which I think numbered four plus the organist) on Sunday evenings. I would sit on the bench opposite where the (not in working order) memorial fountain stood on the corner of the High Road and St Nicholas Lane waiting for her to emerge. Then on to our Sunday evening walkabout — no money for anything more ambitious.

    Yes, the Hall was opposite the church. In fact it stood one side of the fence which ran behind the bench and the memorial fountain.

    By Alan Davies (22/08/2017)

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