St Thomas of Canterbury
In the beginning . . .
. . . in the Franciscan Annals of March 1878, a member of the Third Order of St. Francis wrote:
"There is a large district fringing the Loughton and Ongar branch of the Great Eastern Railway stretching from Stratford to Ongar, embracing the parishes of Woodford, Woodford Bridge, Chingford, Loughton, Chigwell, Chigwell Row, Epping and adjacent places without a church (St. George's Walthamstow is the nearest, except St. Helen's Ongar at the extreme end) at which the faithful can assist at the holy sacrifice.
A Brother of the Third Order of St. Francis, anxious for the salvation of so many thousands of souls residing in this large district and therefore removed from the life-giving influence of our holy religion, asks his brethren and sisters of the Third Order to unite with him in a daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament and to offer in connection with this visit, a Pater, Ave, Gloria, that Almighty God will be pleased to establish a mission."
This anonymous quotation is often seen as the first inspiration for the founding of the friary church of St.Thomas of Canterbury at Woodford in the county of Essex.