Newsletter 118 – July 2020 – With Updates


At the end of February  we sent you our most recent Newsletter with dates and plans for the remainder of 2020, giving details of our Thursday services, Open Days, the Annual General Meeting, London Open House and – even! – a date and time for our Christmas Bazaar.  To be on the safe side, we did add a note of caution:  once we’d achieved final approval for the Chapel’s new central heating installation, one or two of those dates might have to be changed dependent on building works. Well, as Scotland’s national poet once warned, the “best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft agley” – and because of the  Covid 19 pandemic, our best laid schemes have all ganged agley with a vengeance!  Just two weeks after our last Newsletter everything changed.


On March 16th the Government announced self-isolation, lockdowns, and the closure of practically everything.  And so, all our plans had to be abandoned.  With effect from the beginning of this month there has been some easing of these restrictions, but they seem unlikely to be of immediate change as far as we are concerned. So, what next?



Under present instructions (imposed by Government and by the Abbess Adelicia Trust) the Chapel may only be used for an act of worship and no other purpose.  This means such events as Open Days, Open House and the AGM are not permitted.  And although the Chapel would be permitted to resume the Thursday services, current guidelines require additional precautions.  These include taking a record of the names and contact details of those attending;  strict social distancing of two metres,  or one metre “plus” if there are  mitigating factors, such as the wearing of masks. There is also a strict limit on the number of people allowed inside the building at any one time – in our case, a maximum of 20.  (Father Martin provides more information on this further on)



It seems there is a pragmatic approach to all these rules, and there are frequent changes. There is a suggestion that by September the Chapel might be able to open for certain purposes other than acts of worship.  This raises the possibility of resuming our Open Days, tours of the building, the Christmas Bazaar and so on.  However, at present this will require a clearly marked or controlled way of moving through the building  – following the arrows, keeping social distance, and requires separate ways in and out of the building (just about possible, but not desirable as far as the Chapel is concerned!).  And, all the time, we are warned that in the event of a resurgence of the problem, all restrictions could be imposed at any time.  It really is a question of planning no further ahead than week to week.



So, it’s beginning to look as if the London Open House Weekend is unlikely to involve the Chapel this year (and unlikely to involve many other special buildings throughout London).  Our tour-guide team – Martin, Joanna and Peter –  is standing by in case things change, and, if so, we’ll post the information on our website and Facebook page.



The AGM should have been held before the end of this month and, officially, your committee and officers should have resigned and been replaced or re-elected for the forthcoming year. In the present circumstances it is not possible to hold such a public meeting, and the nature of our membership suggests that to hold an online meeting and election would be inappropriate.  Accordingly, the officers and committee will remain in post for the time being.



We are all especially keen to see the Chapel re-open as soon as possible.  The  regular Thursday Eucharist Service is a midweek-highlight for a significant number of our members, and its return will not only see the Chapel fulfilling its traditional, centuries-old main purpose, but will also restore a sense of the normal pattern of our lives  – a pattern wildly disturbed by the events of recent months.  Be assured, we will be ready to welcome you as soon as we sensibly can.


THE BOOK OF COVID-19 – (Definitely not a Good Book)

Father Martin writes😉 (In fact it’s not a book at all, but a big ring binder containing all the Government documents and also the Church of England documents relating to what a Church or Chapel can (or more often) cannot do! )

When it was announced that the Churches, etc. could resume services a whole lot of paper was used up by the regulations, guidelines and best practice advice. Here is some of the reasoning (taking into account all the regulations, etc.) behind the decisions.

As you stand at the entrance to the Chancel and look towards the back of the chapel you see to your right, 4 rows of 4 chairs, each row with one end against the wall. Now you must be 2 metres apart OR 1 metre plus with mitigation (face masks). Each person must have unrestricted access and not encroach on another’s space if at all possible. Thus, that block of 16 seats (4 rows of 4) can only hold 2 people. On the same side but behind the doors there are 5 rows of 4 chairs, this equals 3 people. A total of 5 on your right side.

To the left the situation is a bit better, in the forward block and because you can enter from each side, you can have 4 people and in the rear block 6 people, a total of ten on the left. Since we are not allowed to have food or drink, if the tables at the back are removed and a walk-through put in place, we can add an extra 4 chairs! So now we have 19 seated and the Vicar at the Altar, a total of 20 people. Each person must have their name and address entered into a log book for 21 days (Track and Trace protocol). The Trustees have brought a hand sanitizer unit along with some gloves, face mask and other cleaning products. Everything that might have been touched has to be wiped down and sanitised after the service or left for at least three days. Hence after a Thursday service it becomes a massive and time consuming task to even contemplate an Open Day or Open House. Likewise after the event everything must be sanitised again or left untouched.

Now, if you are still with me,  let me just add that where possible all doors and windows are to be open in order to keep the air moving and to prevent a build-up of potentially virus-ridden air. Also there must be a separate entrance and exit route – in at the front and out via Reade Close. Need the bathroom, walk round the block, but only after you have sanitized it or asked the duty attendant to do it (at least that’s the theory).

In all of this, as the Chaplain or in Government-speak the Centre Manager,  the responsibility for applying the  rules lies with me and I am certainly not about to be fined for failure to comply… (The maximum fine is currently £3,000). And Yes, it seems that every time a Government minister opens their mouth something changes. The latest info goes on the Web-Site.



                        London Open House: -Virtual tour available – see our home page

                        Sat 19th & Sun 20th September.- Sadly the Chapel will not be open

                        Christmas Bazaar:  –

                        Saturday 21st November, CANCELLED



Newsletter 117 – February 2020



            Open Day: Saturday 9th May, 10am – 2.30pm – CANCELLED

            Annual General Meeting: Thursday 11th June, 2pm – Postponed until the autumn – details to follow. 

            Open Day: Saturday 11th July, 10am – 2.30pm – CANCELLED

            London Open House:

                        Sat 19th September 10am-4pm &

                        Sun 20th September, 11am – 3pm

VIRTUAL TOUR – See our Home Page

            Christmas Bazaar: – VERY, VERY LIKELY NOT TO HAPPEN

            Saturday 21st November, 1pm –4.30pm

Current members know all about our Open Days, and the chance to get away from the crowds and the traffic outside, to have a look around our precious piece of heritage, and to sit down with a cuppa in the calm and beauty of Ilford’s oldest building. So why not spread the word this year and persuade someone new to join you on your visit? Everyone is welcome to share the special atmosphere of our Open Days.

AND : Eucharistic Service every Thursday – Suspended until further notice

The Chapel offers a weekly Eucharist Service every Thursday between 12.35 and 1.15pm. We are here from 12 noon until 2pm and you are all welcome to join us.


The AGM, the London Open House Weekend and the Christmas Bazaar are events that are still a long way off, and fuller details will be given at a later date. However, yet again we should mention the possibility of some changes to these dates because of the planned installation of a new central heating system inside the Chapel. Those members with good memories will recall we announced in September 2018 – eighteen months ago! – that we had the funds, and the provisional go-ahead from the Trustees of the Chapel to install new central heating. At that point we submitted application and outline plans to English Heritage, to Redbridge Council, and other interested parties, seeking detailed preservation, safety and historical-building approval. Once that was acquired, we would need the final go-ahead from the Trustees and so get the work done. Well, eighteen months on, and we’re still waiting for the “T’s” to be crossed and the “I’s” to be dotted ! The poet George Herbert wrote “The mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small”. I wonder what he would say of the grinding mills of Planning Approval Officials?



Transport for London has announced that Ilford Train Station will be completely closed every Saturday and Sunday from now to the beginning of April. The Station itself is undergoing major re-building to prepare for the introduction of services on the Elizabeth Line (the new name for Crossrail).  However, there will be a train service for all our Thursday Services, with the Station having a new entrance and exit – in Ilford Hill, immediately facing the Chapel. (Except it is too dangerous to cross the road at this point – please walk up to the traffic lights!) You may find helpful the following extract from our Chapel Leaflet:

How to Find The Hospital Chapel , 48 Ilford Hill, Ilford, IG1 2AT

Access by car: Close to the A118 junction of the A406. Meter parking is available in Reads Close off the one-way system to the South of the Chapel. Otherwise use town centre car parks.

Access by public transport: Adjacent to Ilford rail station

Train: TfL rail Liverpool Street to Shenfield line.

Buses 25, 86, 123, 128, 145, 147, 150, 167, 169, 179,

296, 364, 366, 396, 462, EL1, W19 all stop close by.

Underground: Gants Hill station on Central Line then local bus to Ilford (about 10 minutes).


While the TFL staff at Ilford Station are having to cope with all the upheaval of the building works, it might be a good moment for the Friends of the Chapel to say a big thank-you to the TFL’s Community Champions. They can apply for financial assistance from their local Ambassadors if their chosen charity needs specific items, and MTR Elizabeth Line is happy to support the Ilford Hospital Chapel with future Open Days. We are most grateful for their support.



We were recently asked if we could help with a family history query concerning the unusual name of Matilda Wizard. As Miss Matilda Carter she married Charles James Wizard in 1899. In 1924 the Wizards are first shown as living in the Chapel’s almshouses – ‘4 St Mary’s Chapel Square, Ilford UD’ – and, after Charles died in 1933, Matilda continued to live there until at least 1939. The election registers show that Matilda died, age 86, in January 1945 at Stisted Hall, near Braintree.

Stisted Hall, a Grade II* listed building, became a care home in 1939 and is now known as Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court. It appears to have Masonic connections. Matilda and Charles would have lived both in the pre-1927 and the current almshouses. During most of that time the Chaplain was the Revd. W J Sparrow Simpson. As the Chapel had no medical care facilities I wonder if there was a regular link between it and Stisted Hall, to which people were transferred if they needed extra care?

Thanks to the Redbridge Heritage Centre for providing some of this information.

Martin Fairhurst