London Metropolitan Archives - Item Details

WHITEFIELD MEMORIAL CHURCH {FORMERLY TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD CHAPEL}

Date of Creation:

1756 - 1978

Reference Code:

LMA/4472

Scope and Content:
  • Records include registers of baptisms, 1805 - 1879 and 1930 - 1974; registers of marriages, 1866 - 1882 and 1936 - 1965; registers of burials, 1756 - 1845 and 1945 - 1965; roll of members, 1865 - 1879; minute books; attendance registers; abstract of title to Burial Ground; visitors' books; 'Signal' magazines; leaflets and newsletters; historical articles; reports and correspondence.
Extent: 0.7 linear meters
Classification: NON-ESTABLISHED RELIGIONS
Site Location: London Metropolitan Archives
Level of Description:
    Collection

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Administrative History:
  • George Whitefield (1714-1770), the famous evangelical preacher, obtained a lease of the site for his Chapel in Tottenham Court Road in 1756. Whitefield had been driven to seek a place where he would be free from the opposition encountered from the vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields at the Long Acre Chapel where he had been a minister. The Chapel, built and probably designed by Matthew Pearce, was opened for public worship in 1756 and was enlarged in the winter of 1759 to 1760. Whitefield died in Boston, America in 1770 and his memorial sermon was preached in the Chapel by John Wesley.

    When the original lease expired in 1827, the freehold was purchased by Trustees, who reconditioned the Chapel which was reopened for services in October 1831. In 1853 the burial ground which had been in use since 1756 with an interval of eight years, 1823-1831, was closed. There was a dispute when in 1856 the Reverend J.W. Richardson endeavoured to use part of it for building purposes, and owners of the graves applied for an injunction against the disturbance of the ground. However, in 1895 it was laid out and opened as a public garden.

    In 1856 the Chapel was repaired, only to be almost wholly destroyed by fire in February 1857. The property was then bought up by the London Congregational Building Society who erected a new building designed by John Tarring. However, in 1889 the foundations began to give way, probably because of the numerous burials within the building which disturbed the filling to the pond underneath.

    The Chapel was closed and services were carried out in a temporary iron structure until the new building was opened in November 1899. The new building included a chapel designed to seat 1,200 people, and beneath it Toplady Hall, named after the Reverend Augustus Toplady. On 25 March 1945 the Chapel was totally destroyed by bombing and was subsequently replaced by a new building which still remains on the site. The Whitefield Memorial Church is now the American Church in London. It is a non-denominational, evangelical church.
Copyright: City of London
Source of Acquisition:
  • Received in 2006 (B06/063).
Access Restrictions: These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 2018
Physical Condition: Fit
Arrangement: In sections according to catalogue.
Related Material: See also LMA/4143 and ACC/1801.