Trinity Episcopal Chapel 1831 - 185?

This proprietary chapel was established, only a few hundred yards north from the parish church on Cannon Street Road [formerly New Road], between what are now Chapman and Bigland Streets (Chapel Street lay between them), for reasons not entirely clear, though presumably related initially to work with seafarers in the various institutions decribed below. The premises were previously a Congregational chapel. Horwood's map of 1792/9 [left] shows its location (in red), with the burial yard behind; it is still shown on a street map of 1875 [right], though having become a Methodist chapel when the Anglicans moved out, it was demolished around this time.

Sailors' Rest Asylum / Shipwrecked & Distressed Sailors' Asylum

Next to the chapel (where the railway now crosses the road) was a home for sailors, which had been set up by the Baptist Charles George (Bo'sun) Smith - more about him here - in 1829, originally in Wellclose Square, moving to larger but dilapidated premises in Cannon Street Road in the spring of the following year. Although it appeared to command support from other nonconformist ministers, this was withdrawn in 1832 after Smith had fallen out with his organisation, and it passed into Anglican hands, struggling initially to raise funds (though the Queen became a patron): see here for an extract from an 1833 circular, and for a report by the new Managing Committee established in 1836, which showed that support came mainly from Royal Navy officers, with Merchant Navy shipowners castigated for showing little regard for the welfare of those who generated their income (though see below for various institutions for the orphans of merchant seamen). Some of the MPs present at this meeting asked some sharp questions about the plight of vulnerable seamen, particularly since they were no longer eligible for casual Poor Law relief.  Under the new regime, Evening Prayer was read daily, with an exposition of scripture, in the asylum chapel, and on Sunday morning and evening residents attended Trinity Chapel.

In the Mariners' Church Gospel Temperance Magazine of July 1843 (p831) Smith described the premises and laments their loss, depriving evangelical ministers of access to sailors, and of funds for their ministry when the land was acquired by the London and Blackwall Railway:

Some years since, I had formed the Sailors' Rest Asylum, and provided for shipwrecked and distressed sailors lodging and food, until they could get ships. At first we had an Asylum House, in Wellclose-square ...The house became too small, and I then sought out, and engaged a large range of premises in Cannon-street-road, having a wide entrance and two folding gates. Here was a dwelling-house for the manager, and the premises being in a ruinous state, I had an extensive place below fitted out with tables, forms, and stoves, as the Sailors' Mess, and a large floored place above, as the Sailors' dormitory for clean straw, and an old sail as a covering. The Sailors' Mess was the chapel every night and morning. Opposite to this I had another range of premises, as the cook-house and kitchen, and at the expense of £200 had these fitted up, also, for sailors. All this I carried on and had supported, and the greatest good was done with hundreds of poor destitute or cast-away sailors, who went out, or came from all parts of the world. A company of dissenting ministers and laymen examined the whole of the Sailors' Rest Asylum in 1831 ... and all the ministers and laymen pronounced it the most important institution, and worthy of all possible support. When the twenty four ministers, who had engaged to take the whole of our establishment, withdrew from it, without any justifiable cause, I found we could no longer support this cause in Cannon-street-road ... [and offered to transfer it to Dr Fletcher of Stepney] ... but to my great surprise and grief he refused it altogether, in consequence of other ministers withdrawing, so that I was obliged to transfer it to the Rev. Mr. B [Thomas Boddington], a clergyman of the Church of England, who took it in connection with Trinity Episcopal Church, in Cannon-street-road; and after two or three years he transferred it to a captain of the navy, who obtained the Bishop of Llandaff's patronage, and Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, as president, with some, also, of the lords of the Admiralty. Sir Edward made his experience of this institution the principal ground of all his evidence before the Shipwreck-committee of the House of Commons. At length the whole failed, and was broken up and destroyed; so that now there is only one Sailors' Asylum, in Well-street, where no dissenting minister would be allowed to preach. The nightly shelter for the houseless, by the London Docks, housed about seventy destitute sailors of a night, last winter; but no non-conformist minister is allowed there: but had Dr. Fletcher kindly taken the Sailors' Rest Asylum, and the dissenting and methodist ministers united with him, they might have had all the money the Blackwall Railway gave for pulling down all the premises and making a new road directly through what was our Sailors' Rest Asylum; and thus all the evangelical ministers could have had access every night to preach to sailors, who would be compelled to be present. One hundred every night, who would be the greatest curse or the greatest blessing to all parts of the world, as they obtained ships for foreign voyages!

here for provision for seafarers elsewhere in the area.

Sailors' Orphanages

In 1829 a Sailors' Orphan Girls' Episcopal School and Asylum was established at 29 Cannon Street Road, where forty orphans were taught and clothed, twenty of them resident and wholly provided for. The instruction given is purely scriptural, the Bible being the basis of all; the children are trained in the principles of the Established Church, and, as far as possible, in such moral and domestic habits as are likely to fit them for respectable service. Ten shillings and sixpence annual, or five guineas donation, constitute a governor - with the right to nominate residents. This system may strike us as open to abuse, but it remained the norm for such institutions for much of the century - see other institutions below - and arguably provided a form of local accountability. It also offered schooling to non-resident pupils: in 1838 there were 65 on roll.

Though close by, it was not run by Trinity Chapel, but in association with the Episcopal Floating Church Society; its secretary in 1848 was the incumbent of St Mark Whitechapel, as the following appeal from the Nautical Magazine (vol XII.7 p376) shows. Note the writer's explanation for its financial struggle - the wretched locality in which it was situated - and her moral appeal to those of higher social status coupled with self-interest: the home was a good source of domestic servants! This was a common theme in appeals of the time.


June 1848
I venture to place in your hands a statement, which I earnestly wish you may deem admissable into your pages; the charity to which it refers, having assuredly a strong claim on "Nautical" attention and support. By making it better known among your numerous readers, you will render essential benefit to the youthful object of its care; and I need only add, that the deep and heartfelt interest in this and all kindred institutions, which impels me thus to intrude on your notice, is but that which well befits every English woman, especially one who may subscribe herself with all respect,
An Admiral's Orphan Daughter

The Sailors' Orphan Girls Episcopal School and Asylum receives within its walls twenty orphan daughters of British seamen, whether belonging to the navy or merchant service, between the ages of 3 and 15, whom it boards, clothes, educates, and aims to set forward in life by placing them out as servants in respectable families. It also extends a measure of the same advantages to about twenty others, allowed to attend daily from the neighbourhood. More than 600 such children have during the last 18 years, been thus rescued from the worst miseries of the orphan's lot; and much of lasting benefit, as well as present relief, has thus been ministered to the poor and destitute.

The charity has not been without influential patronage; headed by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, and the Right Honourable Lord Byron. But we all know it is from the many in the middle ranks of life, rather than the few in the higher, that the practical support of our public institutions is reasonably expected. Thank God, in our land, and in our day, we are not wont to look to these in vain, when the claims of any such cause have been once satisfactorily established. Yet the vast variety of appeals presented to all who are able and inclined to attend to them, and the round of busy engagements in which all but positive idlers seem ever involved, are frequent hindrances to those being heard, which need only a hearing to ensure them a kind and effectual response.

Added to this, with regard to the charity in question, the wretched locality in which it unfortunately stands, amidst the dense population of our sea-faring men and their families, has always been an obstacle to its being either frequently inspected by visitors, or very regularly superintended by an efficient Lady's [sic] Committee of management. It is therefore [a] matter of more concern than surprise, that it has thus long remained comparatively little known, and in consequence, most inadequately supported. In fact the efforts and liberality of a few friends, who have tested and proved its value, aided by the faithful and unwearied exertions of its School-mistress, have alone prevented its falling to the ground: and these have failed to keep it free from the incumbrance of a debt, which unceasingly damps its energies, and cripples its operations.

Urgent and affecting applications for admittance, the Committee are reluctantly compelled to turn a deaf ear to, in the present state of their finances: and either the removal to more commodious premises, or the much needed repair and improvement of those they at present rent, they likewise feel it their painful duty to defer.

Being without endowment, or any other resources than the fluctuating list of annual subscribers and benefactors, aided by an occasional sermon, and from time to time a sale of such useful and ornamental articles as a few kind and warm friends are ready to supply, the Commit te find their charge,. however interesting, one of frequent anxiety and embarrassment. Still,. however, the Institution pursues its quiet unobtrusive course of usefulness, relieving many a widowed heart of a portion of its burden, saving many a helpless orphan child from want and ruin, and sending forth, year by year, into that important, though humble, class of the community, our household servants, those whom it has trained in the principles and habits that will best prepare them to learn and labour truly to get their own living, and to do their duty in that state of life "to which it has pleased God to call them".

Wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, of British sailors, placed happily out of reach of the privations and perils which but for such a shelter, must overwhelm this orphan band: husbands, fathers, brothers, personally familiar with the casualties of a profession, that is daily making the children fatherless, and the wives widows in the midst of us: all who recognize the special claims of British seamen on their fellow-countrymen and fellow countrywomen, such will surely need but to be informed of the existence and the difficulties of an institution like this; and they will promptly stretch forth to it their helping hand, if only in gratitude to a kind Providence, for their own happier lot.

But twenty of these children, as wholly dependent, and but forty, as partially so, do the Committee venture to present for support, to the thousands around who have more than heart could wish. Shall this handful then plead in vain? No! rather by "delivering the fatherless, and her that had none to help her", may the rich "blessing of her that was ready to perish come upon" every kind reader of this appeal on their behalf.

Subscriptions and Donations are thankfully received by Messrs. Barclay, Bevan, Tritton, & Co., Lombard Street; by Mr. Nisbet, 21, Berners Street; Messrs. Seeley, Fleet Street; Messrs. Hatchard, Piccadilly; at the Office of the Naval and Military Bible Society, 32, Sackville Street, Piccadilly; at the Sailors Home Office, 23, Well Street, London Docks; by the Honorary Secretary, the Rev. J. Lyons, A.M., St. Mark's Parsonage, Whitechapel; or by Mrs. Largent, at the Sailors' Orphan Girls' Episcopal School, 29, Cannon Street Road, St. George's East, London, where visitors also are respectfully invited.

Its last governess in Cannon Street Road was Mrs Mary Sargent. It seems that funds for this building were not forthcoming, as around 1852 it amalgamated with the Sailors' Female Orphan Home. This was one of the various institutions set up by Bo'sun Smith, starting in 1829 in 51, and then 37, Wellclose Square, where he had several other premises. Mrs How, a Quaker, became a moving force in its running; and after Smith's falling out with former associates (including Gull and Hyatt, mentioned below) it relocated to 66 [Great] Prescot[t] Street. By 1844 it had a similar aim, and admission policy, to its Anglican counterpart, plus provision for the outright 'purchase' of a place:
.....rescuing from depravity, and the greatest state of indigency, children of British seamen who have perished in the their country, and to maintain clothe, educate, and suitably prepare them as servants &c. Every person subscribing one guinea per annum, or ten guineas as a life subscription, is entitled to recommend children to the notice of the committee, who, as the funds may admit of it, add to the objects of the charity. No child is admitted without three such recommendations, except on the payment of 70 guineas, when the child is at once admitted.

President, Sir James Hillyar. Treasurer, John Cook. Esq., Goodman's-yard. Secretaries G. Gull, Esq., 68, Old Broad-street; Rev. C.J. Hyatt, 14, Hardwick-place, Commercial-road. [Collector], Mr. C. Gordelier, 92, Fenchurch-street. [Bankers], Messrs. Robarts, Curtis, and Co., Lombard-street. [Superintendent], Mrs. Orton, at the Asylum.

The merged institutions moved to new premises at 27 Mansell Street (in St Mark's parish), for which in 1852 it had a building fund of £1,200, and an average annual income from donations of about £700. (There was also another similar institution, with secular patrons, at 24 [Great] Prescot[t] Street, the Sailors' Orphan School & Asylum for Girls, whose matron was Miss Mary Huggins.)

Nearby was the first home of the Merchant Seamen's Orphan Asylum, set up following a public meeting in October 1827 by Bo'sun Smith with Phillips and Thompson in connection with the Port of London and Bethel Union Society, to provide a home for the destitute off-spring of British merchant seaman with a view to assisting and benefiting them when disease, accident or calamity at sea deprived them of the chief support. Initially it housed five boys in the care of Mr & Mrs Fisher at 3 & 4 Clark's Terrace, Cannon Street Road; two years later there were eleven, plus five girls at 11 St George's Place. In 1833, after Smith separated from his associates, it became a Society [left are its admission rules of that year];  illness and constant expense for 'changes of air' dictated a move the following year to New Grove, an old mansion in Bow Road, which in 1852 was maintaining 84 boys and 40 girls, with an average income of £2,500 (later rising to £3,113), all from voluntary contributions except about £180 from dividends.
The next move came in 1862, to new premises at Hermon Hill, Snaresbrook, on a 7-acre Wanstead Forest site purchased from Lord Mornington (a relative of the Duke of Wellington), designed in elaborate pseudo-Venetian style by George Somers Clarke; the Prince Consort laid the foundation stone and it was opened Lord John Russell. It housed 130 boys and 75 girls, expanding by 1883 to 270 children; the chapel seated 300 plus staff. It moved again in 1919/20, as a result of World War I, and nuns of the Convent of the Good Shepherd took over the site; Essex County Council bought it as hospital in 1938 and ten years later, under the NHS, it became Wanstead Hospital, with 188 beds. (The exterior became 'St Swithin's' for filming Doctor in the House.) The maternity unit closed in 1975, with full closure in 1986 because of poor cleanliness and high infant mortality, plans for a new hospital on the site having failed. Most of the site was converted into residential accommodation, as Clock Court, in 2006, but the grade II-listed chapel became Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue - their website gives a detailed description of the building.
The new home of what from 1902 had been the Royal Merchant Seamen's Orphanage was Bearwood, in Godalming, a vast mansion built between 1865-74 by the son of the owner of The Times; its opening in 1922 is described here. In 1935 it was renamed the Royal Merchant Navy School (1935) / Foundation (1980), but since 1961 has been Bearwood College, an independent school, now co-educational, retaining its Christian character.

In 1829 Smith also set up a Sailors' Orphan House Establishment, for 50 boys and 50 girls who were orphans of Royal Navy and revenue sailors as well as from the Merchant Navy, as a branch of his British and Foreign Sailors and Soldiers Friendly Society.

The first Anglican minister of Trinity Chapel was Thomas Boddington (1831-??), a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford.The Monmouthshire Merlin of 1 and 8 October 1831 reported that he had been sacked from his curacy at St Woolos Newport. Friends claimed this was because of disagreement with his vicar the Rev A.A. Isaacson over politics, but it became more personal. He had denounced the vicar from the pulpit for taking the sacrament to a dying parishioner who did not believe in every part of the Holy Scriptures, saying he had given him a passport to Hell.  The vicar complained to the Bishop of Llandaff. When vicar and curate met in the street a few days later, Boddington called him a dirty lying scamp, and a madman who ought long since to have had the straightjacket. The vicar said that the Bishop would settle the matter, to which Boddington replied that he did not give a fig for him or the Bishop.  The Bishop upheld the complaint, and he was replaced the following week.

In Newport he had been a supporter, chairing local meetings, of the Church Missionary Society, and continued this in London. In 1832, while minister of Trinity Chapel, he presided at a meeting for the 'young gentlemen at Mr Dawson's Academy at Bow' which led to the formation of a Juvenile Church Missionary Association (p284).

In 1836 he became the chaplain of Giltspur Street Compter [right], a prison built opposite Newgate (to designs by George Dance the Younger) in 1791 to replace two small City gaols, mainly to house debtors but also felons and other offenders, and vagrants and 'night-charges'; it was demolished in 1855. As the third annual report of the Prison Inspectors (Supplement, p31ff) explains, Boddington had actually read the daily prayers with a biblical exposition on a voluntary basis for some time prior to his formal appointment, as his predecessor was too ill to perform his duties, which had in any case for many years been undertaken on his behalf by the 'Taskmaster'. His salary there was £200 a year. He resigned in 1842, after a trial at the Middlesex Sessions when he and Matilda Tippett[s], a former prisoner at the Compter with whom he had formed a relationship (they may have married), were accused - though acquitted - of a murderous assault on Matilda's husband Frederick Penn Tippett: here are two press accounts of the murky story. The Accident Relief Society (for Affording Assistance to the Families of the Suffering Poor in Cases of Sudden Injury - founded in 1838) was at pains to make clear that he had broken his links with them two years previously.

Sir Richard Owen FRS KCB, the renowned naturalist, attended the chapel on one occasion. His wife wrote in her diary for 27 March 1836 R. and I got up in good time, and according to agreement went by 'bus to Trinity Chapel, Cannon Street Road. We sat on each side of the organist in the organ loft, and it was quite a treat to hear him.

Burial ground, and the lascars

The chapel also had a burial ground, though it was not managed by the church. Here, from the London Shipping Gazette of  5 September 1837, is a descrption of the burial of a young apprentice:

[It will be recollected that in addition to the boy Matthews and a Maltese servant, who were killed by the explosion of gunpowder, in a powder-boat alongside the Maltese brig Guiseppe, a fortnight ago, several others were seriously injured, one of whom, the mate of the brig (who was in the cabin at the time the gunpowder ignited), was wounded, and his face severely cut by the broken glass of the cabin skylight falling upon him. He remained in the Dreadnought hospital ship from the Wednesday night, when the explosion took place, until the following Sunday, when, feeling himself quite well, and suffering but little or no inconvenience from the wounds, he took his departure. He was previously a man of sober and steady habits, but, whether the fright unsettled his mind or not, he aftewards took to drinking, and for several days after he left the hospital ship he was in a state of intoxication. The immoderate quantity of ardent spirits drunk by the mate brought on an attack of erysipelas, from the effects of which he died on Sunday afternoon.]
About the time the unfortunate man breathed his last, the funeral procession of the apprentice Matthews passed through the streets of St. George’s in the East, within a few yards of the mate’s abode. Eight lads, watermen’s apprentices, preceded the coffin, containing the remains of the poor boy. They were attired in blue jackets, white trousers, and white gloves, with black crape round their arms. The parents and relatives of the deceased followed the coffin, which was covered with a pall, and supported on the shoulders of four men. In this manner the mournful procession moved towards the burial-ground of Trinity Episcopal Chapel, in Cannon-street-road, followed by an immense concourse of spectators.
[His master, Mr. Corsan, the powder-lighterman, is still confined to his room; he is gradually recovering, but it will be very long before he is enabled to leave his home. The poor boy who belonged to the brig, and who was so frightfully mutilated, still remains on board the Dreadnought hospital-ship in a melancholy state of suffering, and, what is more painful, his reason is affected. He is receiving every attention which skill and humanity can suggest on board the Dreadnought. The brig which was shattered by the gunpowder has been lifted and taken further in shore. In a day or two, it is expected that she will be sufficiently patched up to be towed into dock for repairs.]

Insanitary and over-full burial grounds in London had become a major problem; as G.A. Walker reported in Gatherings from Graveyards in 1839,

The burying ground at the back of this chapel is large, and very much crowded. The fees are low; many of the Irish are buried here, and bodies are brought from very distant parishes; many of the grave stones have given way. There is a schoolroom for children at one end of the ground, built over a shed, in which are deposited pieces of broken-up coffin wood, tools, &c.

 and this was one of the many sites mentioned by Walker in evidence to a House of Commons Select Committee in 1842, in connection with A Bill for the Improvement of Health in Towns, by removing the Interment of the Dead from their Precincts.

In 1839 The Times reported controversy over a lascar burial in this ground, from their barracks in Cannon Street Road; it was observed by 'several thousand' people as an exotic curiosity. An official of the East India Company had leased space, and allowed Catholics, Dissenters and lascars to bury their dead there, for a fee of 7 shillings. Dr Farington, the Rector of St George's, protested that those who swarm in the neighbourhood  [he meant Dissenters and poor Irish papists as well as lascars] had a rooted aversion to the settled order of things both in church and state. This was typical of the growing anti-Asian prejudice - see Michael Fisher Counterflows to Colonialism (2006) chapter 4.  Here are accounts of how Lascars were perceived, from 1805, 1823 and 1839.

The London Morning Post of 6 October 1846 reported:

THAMES — Private Burial Grounds —Yesterday, Mr Rayner, Chairman of the Board of Guardians of St. George-in-the-East, accompanied by Mr. George Findlay and Mr. Staples, also guardians, waited on Mr. Ballantine [the stipendiary magistrate of Thames Olice Court], for the purpose of calling his attention to the over-crowded state of a burial ground in Cannon-street-road, in the rear of Trinity Episcopal Chapel, with which edifice, however, the cemetery has no connection.  Mr. Findlay said he was constable of the parish, and he was requested, in his official capacity, to bring the disgraceful practices carried on in the burial ground before the notice of the magistrate. The burial ground, which was of small extent, was over-crowded with human remains. For some time past a most disgusting and reprehensible practice had been adopted. The coffins and bodies had been taken out of the graves, which ought not to have been disturbed, and after the coffins were broken up, large holes were prepared, into which human remains were thrown in a heap. Pieces of coffins were often seen about the ground, with pieces of decomposed flesh and hair adhering to them. The parishioners were most anxious to prevent any more interments in the burial ground to abate the nuisance ...

Mr Ballantine regretted that he could not intervene, despite the noxious effluvium, and the practice of covering over new graves to give the appearance that they were of long standing, but he encouraged them to believe that change was on the way, which indeed was the case.

The later use of this site is described below.

Protestant Association

For part of its brief history, the chapel was associated with the Protestant Association, whose journal The Penny Protestant Operative reports various meetings of the local branch, the Tower Hamlets Operative Protestant Association, in the Cannon Street Road schoolroom and elsewhere in the borough. For example, in 1840 the Revd J. Cotter (from Ireland) delivered a lecture here on the state of Romanism in Ireland, and the pleasing circumstances connected with the numerous converts from Popery at Dingle and Ventry, and exhibited specimens of indulgences and beads. The room was crowded, and two or three hundred persons were unable to obtain admission. A collection of £4 10s was taken for a school in Dingle. Monthly meetings of the association's Mutual Instruction Class were held in the schoolroom. As the following shows, several of the ministers of the chapel were active supporters. See here for another Irish clergyman's involvement with the meetings of the Association, and his later links with St Matthew Pell Street:  in October 1841 he was a speaker at a meeting of the City of London Tradesmen and Operative Protestant Association held in the George Hall, Aldermanbury, chaired by James Harris [see below]: the St James Chronicle reported Notwithstanding the unfavourable weather this large room was densely crowded, and it was evident from the deep and anxious attention manifested by the audience, and the frequent and hearty cheering, that there are many in the City of London fully alive to the importance and great necessity of such institutions as these. It appears that this association is causing great inquiry among the operative classes of this great metropolis, and exciting the attention of the upper classes.

Ministers of the chapel

The meeting mentioned above was chaired by the Minister, James Harris. Some of these details require corroboration, but he appears to have been ordained, as a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, in 1812 as curate both at St Leonard Shoreditch (on a stipend of £100, with an endorsement on foregoing his licence) and St Margaret Lothbury & St Christopher le Stocks, in the City (on a stipend of £75, with the consent of the Rector, the Revd Dr Whitfield). He seems to have taken on the lease of Spring Gardens [later St Matthew's] Chapel, in the parish of St Martin in the Fields [right - built in 1731, it seated 300; after compulsory purchase, it was used from 1885 to store Admiralty records, and was demolished in 1903]. While in this area, he sometimes attended lectures at the nearby premises of the Outinian Society (founded as the Matrimonial Society by John Penn in 1818 to encourage young men and women to marry). This lease of the chapel having been 'demised' [transferred] to him in 1821, three years later he was the plaintiff in a case for ejectment, for non-payment of rent: Doe dem. Harris v. Masters, reported at 2 Barnewell & Cresswell 490 ('Doe' being a fictional plaintiff for this purpose). In 1824 he was licensed as Lecturer of St Mary Stratford, Bow, and the following year his Dublin degree was recognised ad eundam by Cambridge University (a courtesy practice of the time which fell into abeyance). At some point he took on the proprietary Episcopal chapel in Portman Square, Baker Street (built around 1779 - right] but gave this up after the death of his wife and child - one suggestion is that his brother took it over. (It continued to be a base for the Protestant Association, with various publications in the 1850s by the minister, John William Reeve.) He was a freemason, and a chaplain to the grand lodge of the Loyal Orange Institution (whose president was HRH Prince Ernest, Duke of Cumberland), though in his intriguing evidence to the 1835 Royal Commission on Orange Institutions - transcribed and commented on here - he claimed his involvement, and knowledge of its activities, had been limited after the loss of his family. Whatever the case, his Irish Protestant sympathies suited him well for the post at Trinity Chapel; in 1839 the congregation there presented him with a glowing testimonial.

During this period the chapel had affiliated to the General Society for Promoting District Visiting, set up in 1828 by a variety of evangelical groups, with some episcopal support (in 1832 the Bishop of Chester had preached for the Society at Harris' Portman Square Chapel), with the object of promoting a general and systematic visitation of the poor, with a view to improving their temporal and spiritual condition.  Within three years, London had been divided into 866 sections, with 25 local District Visiting Societies drawing on 573 regular lay visitors who made 163,695 visits in 1831. The following year's District Visitors Record claims a regular system of domiciliary visitation was thought to be necessary, by which every poor family might be visited at their habitations, from house to house and from room to room, and their temporal and spiritual condition diligently yet tenderly examined into, and appropriate treatment applied. But some were suspicious of the Society's methods, since although they recommended communicating and co-operating with the local incumbent before a District Society was set up, of which ideally he should be the president, they reserved the right to set up a Society even should the sanction of the clergyman be withheld. In 1840 they produced a manual by Thomas Dale (a residentiary canon of St Paul's and Vicar of St Bride Fleet Street) with a preface by Bishop Blomfield of London, commending the system but commenting There is a special promise of blessing annexed to ministerial service; and the sense of that speciality ought not to be effaced from the minds of our flocks, by the permitted intrusion of laymen, however pious and zealous, into that which belongs to our own peculiar office. If this be not attended to, you must expect that tares will spring up in the wheat, and that your visiting societies will become so many nurseries of schism.

See this anti-Catholic rant delivered at the Society's meeting in 1836 by the Revd Hugh Stowell, the famous evangelical preacher and church-builder from Salford.

James Harris left in 1842 to become incumbent of All Saints Spicer Street, Mile End New Town. There he chaired the church's auxiliary branch of the Scripture Readers' Association (contributing £12 3s 9d to funds in 1853), and was a council member of the newly-formed Association for the Promotion of Improved Street Paving, Cleansing and Drainage. The Church Review of 1850, and other papers, reported that he was to become one of three additional colonial bishops, to serve in Western Australia (even though he was 65 at the time) - the other two being Sierra Leone and Mauritius. But this did not happen - no bishop was appointed until 1857. In 1859 he became Vicar of Wellington and Curate of West Buckland in Somerset (publishing Idiomatic Phrases and Expressions in French and English) and died there two years later.

From 1840-42 Charles Day (1780-1856) was the Minister, and chaplain of the City of London Union [workhouse]. He was from a well-connected family - his father had married well, and was incumbent of St Swithin Norwich (valued in 1831 at £105 a year, plus £1600 royal bounty and a £200 benefaction) until his death in 1856. Charles himself married a clergy widow. He was an LLB (or SCL) graduate of St John's College Cambridge. Ordained in 1822 by the Bishop of Lincoln (at St Marylebone chapel in London), he was briefly curate of New Sleaford and Quarrington, then of Folkingham with Loughton. The Marquess of Bristol was patron of his first living, at Rushmere, with the perpetual curacy of Playford, in Suffolk (then Norwich diocese), from 1826; why did he resign this in 1835 to become the perpetual curate of Theale (with Wedmore) in Berkshire, and then of Odiham in Hampshire? Perhaps the answer lies in two letters he published while at Odiham containing 'observations' against the Tracts for the Times: was he reacting against the early impact of the Oxford Movement?

Right is his bookplate: the blazon (heraldic description) is Two Hands Clasping Each Other, Couped At Wrist, Conjoined To A Pair Of Wings Proper. Each Wing Is Charged With A Mullet [not a fish or a hairstyle, but a spur wheel], with the motto domat omnia virtus - 'virtue overcomes all things'.

At Trinity Chapel Day attended, and sometimes chaired, Protestant Association meetings (it was to him that Sir Robert Peel's secretary replied to their submission on 'Infidelity in the Metropolis'), continuing to do so when he became vicar of
Mucking, a village near Thurrock in Rochester diocese, where he had a handsome vicarage in the Grecian style, erected around 1833, and 30 acres of glebe; he remained there until his death in 1868. Here he wrote a pamphlet The Latter Day Saints or Mormonites: who and what are they? (Wertheim & Macintosh 1854). On one occasion he preached a fundraising sermon for the German Hospital and Sanitorium in Dalston (raising £47 11s. 6d.) and he was, among other things, a member of the Peace Society, a director of the Mitre Life Assurance Association (based in Pall Mall, which provided favourable rates for clergy and other settlers in the colonies), and a musician. In 1864 he revised, with James Turle (organist of Westminster Abbey), Haslam's Supplemental Tune Book, containing 50 sublime melodies, from the Ancient Temple Services, the Modern Synagogue, Greek, Latin. Russian, Moravian, and other Rituals, adapted in simple harmonies, as Metrical Psalm Tunes and Chorales, to the use of the Anglican Church, with or without accompanying Hymns. A review in the Evangelical Magazine & Missionary Chronicle commented
A new edition has been issued of the much esteemed book of psalmody first named above. The estimation in which it is held proves its merits to a certain extent. It is, no doubt, one of the many books that have in part arisen from the improved views of psalmody which mark our day, and in part promoted those views and the corresponding practice. Among these selections, however, we should not rank the one now before us by any means first. The new compositions are not at all the best part of the book, but many fine old tunes from different sources are introduced. We think, however, that both as regards compositions and arrangements, the popular taste and capacity have been too much consulted in proportion to the classical merits of the music. This is of course a question of degree, and the compilers have consistently adhered in the matter to the views expressed in their preface as to what is mainly required in modern church music.
The "Supplemental Tune-book" is remarkable chiefly for the sources from which the tunes are derived. Those from the old Hebrew worship are of course especially interesting. It is always difficult for music of a new and somewhat foreign character to find its way into common favour and use, while the appearance of such novelties from time to time is exceedingly valuable. We think that several of the tunes in this small collection will be found fully worthy of introduction into our psalmody.

For a time during this period William Ayerst was listed as assistant minister of the chapel. A surgeon's son from Tenterden, Kent, he studied at St John's College Cambridge, and was ordained in Norwich diocese in 1826, to a curacy at St Peter Ipswich on a stipend of £80. Under the influence of Charles Simeon, he was drawn to missionary work among Jews, and having learned Hebrew and German, worked with the Revd R.S. Alexander, a converted rabbi, in Dantzig from 1827, Breslau from 1831 (suffering some persecution) and Berlin from 1832. The work there was successful, with lectures and classes attended by all ranks of society including royalty, but after objections to the use of Prussian liturgy, Bishop Blomfield (of London) ruled that the English liturgy must be used and translated before preaching, and Ayerst withdrew in 1837, visiting various continental stations over the next year. From 1841-43 he was Foreign Secretary to the London Jews' Society, and from 1845-53 Lecturer at the Episcopal Jews' Chapel, when he became Vicar (or perpetual curate) of Egerton, Kent, until his death in 1883 aged 80 (his wife Julie Louise, born in Dantzig in 1803, died in 1871.) He published The Jews of the XIXth Century - a collection of Essays, Reviews & Historical Notices (reprinted from Jewish Intelligence) and some sermons.

(His eponymous son and grandson were both also missionary-minded. Son William, born in Dantzig in 1830, was a scholar of Caius College Cambridge (taking the Hulsean and Norrisian prizes); ordained in 1853, he was curate of All Saints Gordon Square and of other London parishes before going to India in 1859 as Chaplain of Murra in the Punjab and Rector of St Paul's School Calcutta, with two periods of service as a chaplain, to the Bengal establishment and in 1879 to the Khyber Field Force in the Afghan campaign, before returning to London as Principal of the Hebrew Missionary College in 1880, and (after a spell from 1882-86 as Vicar of Twyford with Hungerton, in Leicestershire) briefly Minister of the Jews' Episcopal Chapel. From 1888-89 he was curate of Newton in Camridgeshire, but in 1884 he had become founder and Principal of Ayerst Hostel in Cambridge, providing a non-collegiate base for students of limited means (including this future curate of Christ Church Watney Street); its application to become a public hostel was rejected in 1898 despite the support of Henry Sidgwick and other influential people; the buildings later became St Edmund's House, for Roman Catholic ordinands. In 1902 Ayerst was elected Bishop by some congregations calling themselves 'The Church of England in Natal' - a diocese still wracked by controversy since the Colenso affair - but the Archbishop of Canterbury disapproved of the scheme and he withdrew before consecration.  A 'consistent and strong Evangelical author', he died in 1904.
His second of four sons William, born in 1860 in Calcutta, was a scholar of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (and also of his father's Ayerst Hostel). He j
oined the Prince of Wales' North Staffordshire Regiment in 1884, transferring the following year to the Indian Army, and the Burma Commission from 1886-91. He was commendinded for field-sketching work in Somaliland and Burma, and for political services on Central India. By the time of his retirement to Somerset in 1910 (where he died in 1934) he was a Lieutenant-Colonel. His particular missionary interest was in circulating Braille Bibles in the east - this became the Braille Missionary Union.)

In 1842, George Harrison, of Lincoln College Oxford (MA 1828), was licensed as the Minister, and also chaired and attended meetings of the Protestant Association. He left the following year to become perpetual curate (on a stipend of £101), then first vicar, of Rainow near Macclesfield, where a new (and neat) parsonage and church were built. He became an active member of the Evangelical Alliance, founded in 1846 (see this summary of its history, one of whose authors, David Hilborn, was for a time Principal of NTMTC based in our crypt). For example, he spoke at a meeting at Whitby in 1848 about the nine articles which formed the basis of the Alliance, showing (according to one report) that in joining the Alliance no dereliction of duty is required, and no compromise of principle. He also stated the blessed results of the spirit of the Alliance as occurring in his own experience; relating instances in which those who had been bitter enemies to his ministry had been changed by the saving power of the gospel into warm and stedfast friends. His wife Mary Ann died in 1866, and in his latter years he was resident at Palestine Place, a centre of Christian Jewish mission, in Bethnal Green.

The schoolroom was also used for various secular meetings. According to The Lancet, the East London Medical Association met there in February 1842 to set up an association for the suppression of illegal medical practitioners.

From 1844-48 Alfred Bowen Evans was the Minister (and from 1845 a curate of St George-in-the-East), no doubt appointed through the influence of Bryan King, who had recently become Rector of the parish church. Although of a markedly different ecclesiastical tradition to his predecessors, his membership of the Peace Society (like Charles Day, above), may have been a factor in his appointment. He had preached a course of Advent sermons here the previous year, on The Return of Jesus Christ to our Earth, with its Attendant Events (published by Wertheim, who specialised in books on Christian-Jewish issues). The registers show that he officiated at a considerable number of  baptisms and weddings at the parish church during his time here. Formerly a dissenting minister, and ordained by the Bishop of St David's in 1840, he had been curate of Enfield, of Clodock in Herefordshire, and also Lecturer at the 'hyper-Tractarian' church of St Andrew Wells Street in Marylebone, where in 1841 he had published Dissent and its Inconsistencies, and had made his mark as a preacher - he was only 4' 8" tall, and walked with a stoop, but had a commanding presence - attracting large numbers of young men to the church and taking an uncompromisingly pacifist stance at the time of the 'Russian war': war, he said, is 'utterly indefensible'. Intriguingly, The Train ('a first class magazine' - another Protestant journal) commended him despite his churchmanship. Another reviewer, commenting on his published discourses Christianity in its Homely Aspects, said

The author of this volume of sermons wishes that it may fall into the hands of any who may have entertained a prejudice against the church in which they were delivered; and assuredly, if these sermons represent the doctrines preached in that church, we cannot well imagine a better answer to charges often brought against its clergy. The style of the discourses is peculiar and antiquated, and there is a good deal of reasoning which we should think above the comprehension of the average run of congregations; but the doctrines and principles enunciated appear to have no such tendencies as should furnish any ground of jealousy; on the contrary, we should say that they are particularly free from such notions, and that the most Protestant congregation in the metropolis might listen to them without any other feeling than that of gratification and interest.

In volume 3 of his Treasury of David C.H. Spurgeon, the great evangelical preacher and commentator, quotes Evans in his 'explanatory notes and quaint sayings' on Psalm 61 (v2, from the end of the earth I call upon thee), including images that would not be well-received today: As God is the centre of life, hope, love, and joy, distance from him, of whatsoever degree, is the antipodes of the soul, a region of sterility and darkness, the Iceland of man's spirit.

Evans' farewell sermon at Trinity Episcopal Chapel was published as The Dove: the Christian Pattern. In 1852, then living at Kentish Town, he obtained a protection order against bankruptcy; but he continued to publish sermons preached at St Andrew Wells Street, including further thoughts about war. In 1855, in the wake of recruitment for the Crimean campaign, The Peace Society printed two pamphlets:  War: Its Theologies; Its Anomalies; Its Incidents, and Its Humiliations and The Soldier and the Christian: Addressed to All Willing to Hear Both Sides, but  Especially to Parents about to Choose a Profession for their Sons, by a Clergyman of the Church of England In the following year he produced a series of Lectures on Job.

In 1861 he became Rector of St Mary-le-Strand (which he re-ordered on Tractarian principles), living in the top floor of a slum off The Strand and preaching to small but distinguished congregations (including Gladstone and Lord Salisbury) until his death in 1878, and continuing to write - for example, The Future of the Human Race (1864), four sermons on Revelation 21 & 22. In that year, he was awarded a Lambeth Doctorate of Divinity. Here are some memories of a young friend, who took him on his first ever visit to a theatre at the age of 65.

In The Pulpit and the Press he remarked that a man might preach Calvinism in a chasuble or a surplice and it would be declared to be Romanism, while he might preach Romanism in a Genevan gown, and it would not be distinguished from Calvinism. He supported the Rector of St George's, Bryan King, in his introduction of choral services (pointing out in a sermon that the Psalms were intended to be sung rather than 'read').

But Bryan King presumably had little say in the appointment of Evans' successor in 1848 - Henry Robbins, son of the Rector of Heigham, in Norfolk, and of Wadham College Oxford, who since 1843 had been Head Master of Stepney Proprietary Grammar School; he married Agnes Gooton in 1844. He restored the hard-line Protestant tradition, having been a speaker at the Protestant Association, and involved in the 1845 Anti-Maynooth Conference, protesting at Parliament's proposals for grants and endowments to a Roman Catholic college: the proceedings were written up by A.S. Thelwall who was attached to St Matthew Pell Street. In 1853 a collection was taken for the Society for Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics, after a sermon by its Deputation Secretary. This organisation had been set up four years earlier by Alexander Dallas, and continued until 1950.

robbinsAt the 23rd Annual General Meeting of the British Society for promoting the Religious Principles of the Reformation in 1850 he seconded the motion That the increased, and in many cases successful, efforts of Romish Ecclesiastics in this country to spread their unscriptural principles, and to pervert alike clergy and laity to Romanism, demand that we should not merely stand on the defensive, but with the open Bible, and in the spirit of love and faithfulness, and prayer, and a sound mind, make aggressive inroads on Romanism itself, as well as call on her people to come out of her, that they partake not of her sins, and that they receive not of her plagues.

Robbins' main claim to fame was his compilation Our Little Ones in Heaven, 'thoughts in prose and verse selected from the writings of favourite authors, with a frontispiece after Sir Joshua Reynolds' [left], part of the efflorescence of literature on Victorian child-mourning etiquette: in 1858 his own youngest child Arthur Frank died aged 6 (at Elstree). Henry himself died shortly after, aged 38 (at the home of his brother, the vicar of Shropham in Norfolk), and the book was published posthumously, going through many editions.

How did this chapel relate to its parish church and the distinctive tradition that was emerging there? It presumably closed soon after Robbins' death, and a few years before the consecration of nearby St Matthew Pell Street as a district church (it had been a mission chapel since 1848 or so). For some years it became St George's Wesleyan Free Church until, as described here, they moved to other premises on Cannon Street Road. It was demolished around 1875, when one of the new Raine's Schools buildings was erected on the site, with the playground over part of the old burial ground – as Mrs Basil Holmes reported in 1897, the remaining area comprised a cooper's yard (Hasted & Sons), a carter's yard (Seaward Brothers), and sheds and houses (shown right on Goad's 1899 insurance map). Right is the present-day site of the chapel, a grassy area behind Norton House on the Bigland Estate; see here for more details about this area today.

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