A Forgotten Local Worthy.
ONE hundred years ago the site of the West Ham Technical Institute was known as Stratford Common, and the nearest property on the east side along the main road consisted of two houses known as Carnarvon Villas. These houses are still standing just west of Carnarvon Road, behind what is known as Salisbury Hall, and the property was known in recent years as Salisbury House. No. 1 Carnarvon Villas was at that time occupied by a gentleman named Jabez Legg. He was in business with his father, Mr. Samuel Legg, at No. 2 Knightrider Street, in the City of London, as Undertakers. Both father and son were prominent members of the Congregational Denomination, and they were deacons of the old Poultry Chapel, which was sold and the proceeds used in part payment of the building of the City Temple. At the period mentioned, when Wanstead House was in its glory and the whole district was considered to be in the country, one of the principal. attractions was the tea gardens attached to the Eagle and Child Public House, opposite the Forest Gate House in the Woodford Road leading from Upton to Wanstead Flats, and in consequence of the spiritual destitution of the district, Jabez Legg in the year 1830 conceived the idea of erecting a small Mission Hall or Chapel at a cost of £220 and conducted services therein, also providing day-school accommodation for the children of the residents in the district of the Broadway, a district which commenced to be developed as a building estate about 1820. In 1856, Mr. Legg, with assistance from several members of the Society of Friends, including Samuel Gurney, Lady Buxton and others, was instrumental in erecting the Congregational Church in Forest Lane at a cost of £r,530, the building being opened free of debt.
Jabez Legg was possessed of the Carnarvon Hall Estate, which he inherited from his father, Mr. Samuel Legg, who died on the 7th August r846, at Stratford Green, aged 93 years, and was buried on 4th August in Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, City Road. His sister, Mary Westbrook, was buried the same day, aged 87 years, and is described in the Burial Register as residing at Stratford Green. Jabez Legg continued to reside at Stratford Green until his death in 1867. He married Catherine, a daughter of Robert Waylen, Esq., Mayor of Devizes. She died on the 22nd April r824, aged 39 years, and her remains were deposited in a vault within the Congregational Church at Devizes. Jabez Legg appears to have been buried i1 a grave outside the Church, but adjoining the Church walls. The inscription on the tablet in the church records as follows:-
In affectionate remembrance of Jabez Legg, Esq., of Stratford Green, Essex, who died October 23rd, 1867, aged 81 years.
Very little is known regarding his history, and few of the inhabitants in the Borough have any information as to the buildings in Forest Lane, Forest Gate, known as the Forest Gate Retreat. They consist of a block of six cottages. Mr. Legg originally built (in 1858) the first three, Nos. 1 to 3, for the accommodation of his father's old servants, and added three more in r863, the whole being intended to provide free living accommodation for six women having sufficient income to live upon. The gift of presentation is in the hands of private trustees. Under Mr. Jabez Legg's Will he left each inmate ten pounds, but provided no fund for the maintenance of the buildings. Since his death his niece has invested, in the names of trustees, funds for the maintenance of the property and upkeep of the garden, and any surplus income is divided between the inmates at Christmas.
(This paper by John Avery, FCA., FSS and was read on 27th November, 1920 and published by the Essex Naturalist, Vo. XX, pp43-44.)