At around 6.30pm on Bonfire Night, St Dunstan and All Saints Church in Stepney High Street was hosting its weekly youth group when they saw fireworks flying in through the front door.
The eight volunteers barricaded the door to the hall shut, and texted rector, Revd Trevor Critchlow.
“I arrived within about 10 minutes,” he said.
“There were about a dozen youths, aged between 14 and 18-years-old.
“Fortunately there was no damage, but the children were really frightened.”
The police were called, and officers shepherded the youths off down Bromley Street, where the fireworks continued.
“There was a running battle down the street,” said the rector, who’s been at the church for seven years.
“They were throwing fireworks at each other, and some of the parents had them thrown at their cars.
“One parent couldn’t get out of theirs, it was like a war zone.”
There were 32 children aged between five and 10-years-old at the group. The reverend saw them safely off the premises, before locking up the church himself.
He didn’t recognise the youths, but said the sheer number involved, the fact they had fireworks, and the idea they were throwing them at a church, was appalling.
In a night which saw 15 police calls about firework incidents within 20 minutes, he said it led him to question why fireworks could be bought so easily.
“I think incidents like this call into question whether the public should be able to buy fireworks,” he said.
“They shouldn’t have been able to buy fireworks in the first place.
“We’re next door to Stepney City Farm, and it sounded like a war zone so goodness knows how the animals were.
“We will carry on the group next week, but we will certainly be thinking about whether we’ll hold the group on next year’s Bonfire Night.”
A Met Police spokesman confirmed they were called at 6.36pm to the churchyard in Stepney High Street to reports of youths throwing fireworks. It’s been recorded as an anti-social behaviour incident and no arrests have been made