Harlington: Protestant nonconformity

Pages 273-274

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

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Five Baptists registered a house in Harlington for worship in 1719. (fn. 1) In 1797 the founders of the present Baptist church recorded that the village had been favoured with the sound of the gospel for over 40 years, and a dissenting congregation is thought to have been formed about 1750 by preachers from Whitefield's Tabernacle in London. The congregation did not hold distinctively Baptist views before 1797 and in 1766 the Anglican authorities reported that there were dissenters in the parish 'whose ancestors had been soldiers to Oliver Cromwell'. They comprised seven 'anabaptists', two Quakers, and six Methodists. (fn. 2) By 1790 there were said to be 40 Methodists and half that number of 'anabaptists'. (fn. 3) In 1797 twelve of the dissenting congregation formed themselves into a Baptist church. Paedo-Baptist ministers continued to lead the worship until a resident minister was appointed a year later and most of the dissenters in the immediate neighbourhood probably continued to attend the church, for there were congregations of over 100 in the early years of the 19th century, and the church resolved formally to have an open table in 1811. Open membership has since been introduced as well.

There was said to be a Methodist meeting-house in 1766, (fn. 4) which may be identifiable with the old Baptist meeting-house in Manor Parade, to which dates of 1770 (fn. 5) and 1780 (fn. 6) have been variously assigned. The date 1775 is carved in the lintel of a door at the back of the building. The chapel was legally vested in the Baptist church from 1799. The Sunday school was started in 1820. There was no minister between 1825 and 1835, but the congregation quickly increased after a new one was appointed, and galleries and schoolrooms were added to the chapel: the small burial ground in front of the chapel may also date from this time. By 1839 the church had 127 members. By 1837 there were Sunday schools at Hatton and Cranford, (fn. 7) and by 1846 the church also had a branch at Harmondsworth: a number of Baptist churches in the neighbourhood owe their foundation to the Harlington church. Christmas was first celebrated by the holding of a tea meeting for members and communicants in 1847.

Discipline was strictly exercised over members during these years, and drunkenness and the marriage of members to non-believers received particular censure. The loss of the minute books after 1864 obscures the next period, but the present church across the High Street from the old one was opened in 1879. (fn. 8) It is considerably larger than the old chapel and has a cement-rendered front of Renaissance design. The old building continues to be used for various church purposes. The congregation declined between the two world wars, and was sometimes without a resident minister. There has been a revival since the Second World War and in 1959 the church had 127 members. (fn. 9)

The Elim Church at Harlington was formed in 1938, meeting in a hired hall. Its present building in Keith Road was opened in 1951. In 1959 the practising members of the fellowship numbered 30. (fn. 10)


  • 1. Guildhall MS. 9579 (1 July 1719). Except where otherwise noted the account of the Baptist church is based on a MS. hist. of the church by Mr. Wm. Chipperfield of Hayes, a deacon. It was compiled in 1948 from the minute books and is in his possession.
  • 2. Guildhall MS. 9558, f. 447.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Chipperfield, op. cit. The minutes start in 1797 and no early conveyances survive.
  • 6. Letter of 1939 in Char. Com. files.
  • 7. See p. 186.
  • 8. Date on building.
  • 9. Baptist Handbook (1959).
  • 10. Ex inf. the Revd. A. Lambie.