Latimer Congregational Church, Mile End, Tower Hamlets, London
TitleRecords of Latimer Congregational Church, Mile End
DescriptionScope and content
The records are arranged in the planning order:
Records of other churches united with Latimer
Financial Records
Legal Records
Printed Material

Click the PDF icon to browse descriptions to this collection in PDF format.
Extent26 files, 21 volumes and 88 items
AdminHistoryAdministrative History
The History of Latimer Congregational Church is a complex one as several churches, including two dating from the seventeenth century, merged at various times to form the church which exists today. What follows is a brief history of each:-
Ropemaker's Alley/Aldermanbury Postern Chapel
This church was formed by Edward West, former rector of Little Whittenham in Berkshire who was ejected from the Church of England in 1662. West at some point came to London and formed an "underground" church which met at his home. This was on the very edge of the city in a residential district facing Moorfields. Little is known concerning the activities of West's church until it was licensed under the terms of the King's Declaration of indulgence in 1672, which enabled a number of dissenting congregations to erect their own places of worship. West and his followers set up for themselves a small wooden hall in Ropemaker's Alley. In 1765 the church moved to a new building of the Aldermanbury Postern. Here it remained until 1850. By this time almost all of the Congregational churches in the City of London had moved out either because their congregations had already done so, or in some cases, because the rebuilding of the city left no room for them. The decision was taken to unite with the Hampden Chapel in South Hackney in 1858. The estate at Upper Halliford, Sunbury, to which many of the records relate, came to be held by Latimer Chapel via the Ropemaker's Alley/Aldermanbury Postern and Hampden Chapels.
Chequeryard/Three Cranes Chapel/Founders Hall
Founders Hall grew out of the Chequeryard/Three Cranes church which was founded by Nathaniel Vincent sometime before 1682. It acquired the name "Chequeryard" when a meeting house was opened at Chequeryard, Dowgate Hill in July 1688. The church moved to another meeting house at the Three Cranes in Upper Thames Street in the early 1700. In July 1738 the meeting house burnt down and for a while the church had to hold its Sunday services at "Mr Richardson's Church" and its Church Meeting at the Amsterdam Coffee House, Rebuilding began the following year and the new meeting house was opened in April 1740.
Samuel Pike became minister in 1747 and in 1758 became embroiled in a debate over theological orthodoxy which brought him into disrepute with some of his church members, and subsequently led to the establishment of one church at Founders Hall in April 1760 when the faction which opposed him were "ejected".
The 44 dissidents from the Three Cranes met at the Amsterdam Coffee House two days after their ejectment and resolved that they still constituted a church and set about making arrangements to use the meeting house of one of the sympathetic neighbouring churches, that of Little St. Helens. In July 1764 they found a meeting place of their own at the top of Founders' Hall Court, above a tavern. The lease of Founders Hall expired in 1797. It was not renewed. In common with other churches towards the end of the eighteenth century, membership was gradually shrinking as more members moved to the suburbs and found it difficult to travel in. The congregation of Founders Hall therefore resolved to unite with the church at Aldermanbury Postern (see above).
Hampden Chapel
A Congregational chapel was established in Well Street, Hackney in 1800, said to be founded by George Collison. This was superseded, in 1847, by the Hampden Chapel in Grove Street (later Lauriston Road). However, even with the influx of new members from Aldermanbury Postern (see above), the Hampden Chapel was unable to survive and it closed in 1858 when members transfered to Latimer Chapel.
Latimer Congregational Church
Latimer Chapel was founded in 1817 by Richard Saunders, a layman with no qualification but a great deal of evangelistic zeal. Meetings were held initially in a small, former Baptist chapel in Red Cow Lane on the eastern edge of Mile End Old Town, but in 1834 a plot of land was purchased just west of the Regents Canal in Bridge Street and the new church was opened in 1835.
Latimer merged subsumed Hampden Chapel in 1858 and the Salem Chapel (in Mile End Road) in 1868. At this time a young man named John William Atkinson was invited to be the new minister at Latimer, joining the church in 1869 and remaining there until his death in 1916. Besides his ministry to Latimer's mainly middle-class congregation, Atkinson also developed a very different ministry to the East End Poor. Beginning in the 1880s with relatively small-scale appeals, through the local newspapers, for "fuel for the poor", he moved on to national newspaper appeals and would travel all over the country making speeches and collecting money. The fund-raising body was named the "East London Mission and Relief Work", and became one of the most famous and important charities in Tower Hamlets.
The church in Bridge Street was bombed during the Second World War and became unusable. In 1945 the church was offered a site nearby in Ernest Street and the new church was opened in September 1953.
Related MaterialSee also Papers of Stanley Bean Atkinson (1873-1910), the Rev. John William Atkinson (1847-1916) and the Rev. John Atkinson (1824-1901) of Latimer Congregational Church, Mile End, collection reference P/ATK.

Research Papers of Hilary M Lawden, collection reference P/LAW.

A detailed history by Jean Olwen Maynard, A History of Latimer Congregational Church (1987) is available in the Local History Library. The Library also holds a run of church magazines from 1989, annual reports of East London Mission and Relief Work, 1893-1934 and cuttings and photographs re the church.

A microfilm copy is also held of the register of births and baptisms at Latimer Chapel, 1825-1837, the original of which is at the Public Record Office.
Access StatusOpen
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