Whitefield's Chapel, Tottenham Court Road.
|Title:||Whitefield's Chapel, Tottenham Court Road.|
Records consist of: Registers, Services, Accounts, Whitefield's Council, Finance Committee, Special Committees, Magazines and calendars, Legacy, Correspondence and Miscellaneous papers.
|Held by:||London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, not available at The National Archives|
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. 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.
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