The estate of the Whelers of Charing and Otterden

Pages 100-107

Survey of London: Volume 27, Spitalfields and Mile End New Town. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1957.

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CHAPTER VII - The Estate of the Whelers of Charing and Otterden

This was the part of Sir William Wheler's estate which came to Charles Wheler of Charing, Kent, and his son, the Rev. Sir George Wheler, later of Otterden, Kent, on Lady Wheler's death in 1670 and which they retained after the south-eastern portion of it was secured by Sir Charles Wheler of Birdingbury, Warwickshire (see page 98). (fn. n1)

Few significant secular building developments were subsequently carried out on the estate. Part was let as the site of a brewery (see page 80) and Samuel Worrall built houses on the extreme southwestern corner of the estate in the 1730's, but the most interesting feature of the estate was the chapel built by the Rev. Sir George Wheler in 1693 (see below).

Under Sir George's son, Granville Wheler, later the Rev. Granville Wheler and a prebendary of Southwell, there was, as well as the erection of Samuel Worrall's houses, a fairly extensive rebuilding of the original houses on the estate, between 1735 and 1753. Granville Wheler was a Fellow of the Royal Society and an experimentalist in electricity. (fn. 1) Whether the rebuildings promoted by him were distinguished from the common run of building is unknown as none survive. Among the carpenters to whom he granted leases, sometimes for sixty but sometimes for only thirty or fewer years, were Daniel Marsillat senior and junior, of Spitalfields, William Currier of Brick Lane and Joseph Morton of Shoreditch. (fn. 2) Among the bricklayers were Joseph Simpson of Spitalfields; Harding Jones of Anchor Street, Shore ditch; William Allington, also of Shoreditch; and Samuel Ireland of Wheler Street. (fn. 3) One of Granville Wheler's leases to Daniel Marsillat in 1736 required the lessee to spend at least £100 on a new house: (fn. 4) a lease which he granted to a victualler in 1753 required the lessee to spend £400 on two new houses. (fn. 5)

The total rental of the Spitalfields estate in the year 1772–3 was £825 15s. arrears amounting to £207 2s. 7d. (fn. 6)

A section of the northern part of the estate was sold to the Eastern Counties Railway Company in 1841 for the construction of their line to the Shoreditch terminus. (fn. 7) Further property was purchased for expansions of the line by the Eastern Counties and Great Eastern Railway Companies in 1853, 1865 and 1872. (fn. 8) Part of the estate was taken in the 1850's for the northern part of Commercial Street.

Sir George Wheler's Chapel and St. Mary's, Spital Square


St. Mary's, Spital Square, originated as a private chapel of ease built by Sir George Wheler in 1693 for the use of his tenants in Spitalfields. Its site was on the east side of Tabernacle Yard (now Nantes Passage).

George Wheler, son of Charles Wheler of Charing, Kent, was born in 1650 at Breda, where his parents were in exile during the Commonwealth. (fn. 9) He was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, and made an early reputation through his travels in Italy, Dalmatia and Greece during the years 1673 to 1676, which he described in a book published in 1682 entitled A Journey into Greece. In 1682 he received a knighthood, and shortly afterwards took Holy Orders. (fn. 9) John Evelyn, writing at this time, described him as ’that most ingenious and learned Gent: Sir Geo: Wheeler, who has publish'd that excellent description of Attica and Greece, & who being a knight of a very faire estate & young had now newly entred into holy Orders’. (fn. 10) In 1684 he became a canon of Durham Cathedral, and from 1685 to 1702 held the living of Basingstoke. (fn. 11) Of his religious views after the Revolution of 1688 it was said that ’Though he was strongly connected both by friendship and alliance, with those who could not persuade themselves to take the oaths then required, his own loyalty to the reigning family remained perfectly untainted’. (fn. 12) In 1686 Evelyn noted that Sir George Wheler was ’… a very worthy, learned, ingenious person, a little formal and particular, but exceedingly devout’, characteristics which seem to emerge in his dealings with the inhabitants of Spitalfields. Of a sermon preached by Sir George in St. Margaret's, Westminster, in 1686, Evelyn wrote that it was ’… an honest and devout discourse and pretty tolerably perform'd’. (fn. 13)

When George Wheler and his father inherited part of Sir William Wheler's property in 1670 there was no place of Anglican worship in Spitalfields. In 1690 the hamlet delegated George Bohun, owner of the market franchise, and other inhabitants, to look for a possible site for a church or chapel and burial-ground. (fn. 14) At about the same time, Wheler promised £500 towards the proposed church or chapel, if the inhabitants would raise a further £500. Their subscriptions proved inadequate, however, and Sir George then determined to provide a private chapel of ease at his own cost, with the assistance of Thomas Seymour, a goldsmith, and one of the principal founders of the Norton Folgate charity schools. (fn. 15) Wheler obtained possession of a site on his estate between Lamb Street and Spital Square, immediately east of the Norton Folgate Liberty boundary, by purchasing the remainder of the lease from one of his tenants. At first he intended to build a permanent chapel there. (fn. 15) In an undated letter to Seymour, he wrote that ’Sir Christopher Wren is ye most proper person to be consulted on this matter, both because he is the most intelligent and learned man in England in such matters and likewise because he hath been most concerned in contriving the most beautiful churches in London. But before you do this it must be resolved upon what dimensions we intend and can build and with what materialls. Three score foot square from outside to outside is ye most we have room to lay ye foundations and brick cornered with stone I suppose will be the richest materialls we can obtain to which I suppose may be sufficient, all circumstances considered and because it will take some considerable time to finish ye work I should be glad in the meantime some convenient Tabernacle were set up to proceed as soon as may be in ye Spirituall building placed in such manner and with such dimension as ye walls of the Church may be built about it. …’ (fn. 6) Wheler and Seymour appear to have first directed their efforts to the provision of such a temporary chapel or tabernacle, postponing the erection of a brick church. They purchased ’an old Tabernacle’, probably of wood, for £100 and ’set it up’ on the site, (fn. 16) the cost of the structure being shared between them, two-thirds by Sir George and one-third by Seymour. (fn. 6) The name of the carpenter with whom an agreement for seating was made in August 1683 was said to be Thomas Dunning. Later he is referred to as ’Denney’. (fn. 6) Possibly the builder was in fact the Thomas Denning who was later employed by the ’Fifty Churches’ Commissioners on the carpenter's work at St. Mary Woolnoth. That Denning may have had a connexion with Sir George Wheler is suggested by the fact that William Seager, who worked with Denning as carpenter at St. Mary Woolnoth, (fn. 17) took a lease from Sir George Wheler in 1716 of land adjoining the tabernacle. (fn. 18) The Thomas Denning who worked in the Old Artillery Ground in 1682–4 may be the same builder.

Sir George Wheler exhorted Thomas Seymour to ’see that ye carpenter be so careful in seating ye Tabernacle in ye middle of ye Ground, East, West, North, and South, that if occasion be the Church may be built round about it …’. (fn. 6)

The temporary tabernacle was about thirty feet wide and fifty feet long. The ground surrounding it measured sixteen feet to the south, ’but cut off by a Brick-House’, twelve feet to the north, eight and nine feet to the west and ten feet to the east. Wheler promised to obtain the garden of the house on the south side to provide a passage and burial-ground 100 feet by 30 feet. (fn. 16) He specified that the tabernacle was to have ’one good transom window at ye east, another at ye west and so at ye north and south …’. In September 1693 he wrote concerning these windows ’as to alterations ye chief matter I desire is to have some hansomer windows according to ye figure I sent you’. (fn. 6) A pulpit, reading-desk and twenty-two eleven-foot ’formes’ were provided. (fn. 16) Wheler wished to have the pulpit set in the middle of the north side. Of this and the other fittings he wrote: ’The Pulpit with the dimention as I ordered it would have stood much ye best. The Reader's Seat opposite to it and ye Clarks under ye Pulpit. As to a space between as I left ye modell with you.’ (fn. 6) The planning of the tabernacle may reflect the interest in early Christian churches evinced in An Account of the Churches or Places of Assembly of the Primitive Christians which he published in 1689, with illustrations of centrally planned churches.

At first the erection of the chapel seems to have been disliked by both the rector of Stepney and the Bishop of London. In reply to the objections of the former, which were mainly connected with the payment of tithes, Wheler claimed that ’ye place is and ever was tithe free as part of St. Mary's Hospitall, so I believe it might be anciently independent of his jurisdiction’. Of the bishop's objections he wrote ’I understand … that my Lord declines a consecration. I would gladly know what it is he will grant, for I shall never think it reasonable to set up a mere Conventicle there’. Wheler claimed that although the bishop might refuse to consecrate the building as a chapel of ease, he could hardly refuse if it were regarded as a private chapel ’the consecration of which is but a usual favour granted to Chappels in gentlemen's houses’. Both objections appear to have been overcome, perhaps in the latter case because Sir George Wheler declared himself willing, on the bishop's recommendation, to accept the Rev. Luke Milbourne as the first minister of the chapel. (fn. 6)

The chapel was opened on Christmas Day 1693, with ’Prayers and Preaching’ by Mr. Mil bourne, (fn. 16) the bishop having given his permission and promised to grant ’a full licence to perform all religious affairs and Consecration in due time’. (fn. 6) The inhabitants of Spitalfields contributed more than £100 towards seats and galleries, enabling the chapel to accommodate nearly 500 persons. (fn. 19)

Mr. Milbourne had hardly taken up his duties at the tabernacle when he came into conflict with Sir George Wheler. The inhabitants appear to have regarded the tabernacle as a chapel of ease, and Milbourne as its minister. (fn. 16) Sir George, on the other hand, regarded the building as his private chapel and Milbourne as his curate. He felt entitled to conduct the services himself, and to decide what form they should take. (fn. 20) His religious views, particularly in such matters as the singing of psalms before the service, and on the position from which the Communion service should be conducted, (fn. 6) conflicted with those of Milbourne and many of the inhabitants of Spitalfields. (fn. 21) Trouble continued until Sir George took over the pulpit of the tabernacle himself on the Sunday before Christmas in 1695, excluding Milbourne completely. A part of the congregation withdrew to a shop in the vicinity, where they continued to worship under Mr. Milbourne, and Sir George retained control of his tabernacle, with the aid of an assistant. (fn. 16) Milbourne apparently resigned some time after this incident, although there seems to be no record of him until he became rector of St. Ethelburga's, London, in 1704. (fn. 11) The inhabitants claimed compensation for the galleries and fittings which they had provided for the tabernacle. They petitioned Parliament for either a chapel of ease or a parish church for Spitalfields. (fn. 22) Sir George apparently opposed the idea, claiming that the tabernacle provided adequately for the needs of the hamlet. (fn. 15) In 1711 the ’Fifty Churches’ Commissioners considered the provision of new churches in Stepney, and he appeared before a committee to make some representation concerning the tabernacle. (fn. 23) The nature of this is not known, but it may be that he hoped that the committee would convert his tabernacle into a parish church.

By 1714 the first temporary tabernacle appears to have been replaced by a permanent building, as Sir George had intended. James Paterson, writing in that year, says, ’ It's built of Brick, covered with Tile; it has one Bell to Ring for Prayers, and is a very neat and decent Chapel within’. He gives the minister at this time as ’Mr. Samuel Brooms grove’. (fn. 24) It is difficult to reconcile this description with that given fourteen years later in a petition of 1728, when both the tabernacles in Spitalfields (the other being off Petticoat Lane) were said to be in a ’ruinous condition’, (fn. 25) and ’ready to fall down’. (fn. 26)

When Sir George Wheler made his will in 1719 Christ Church, Spitalfields, was already in process of building, and the Commissioners had considered plans for a second church in Spitalfields (see page 151). He foresaw that if both these churches were built, his chapel would no longer be needed. With this in mind, he inserted a clause in his will ordering that as soon as two parish churches were consecrated, the tabernacle was to be handed over to a French congregation; the services were to be conducted in French and according to the Book of Common Prayer. An adjoining house, called the ’Tabernacle House’, was to be used as a residence for the French minister. (fn. 27) The second church in Spitalfields was never built and Sir George Wheler's Chapel remained a proprietary chapel, mainly serving the inhabitants of the Old Artillery Ground and Norton Folgate. It appears that Sir George remained the official minister until his death in 1723, with an assistant to carry on the regular services during his absence. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, Thomas Sharpe. (fn. 28)

In 1734 the chapel was again described as ’fallen very much to Decay’. (fn. 29) A ’Bellhouse’ had apparently stood to the east of the building at one time, but had disappeared by 1732. (fn. 30)

In 1739 John Wesley preached at the chapel. He recorded the incident in his diary: ’I was desired to preach at Sir George Wheeler's Chapel, in Spitalfields, morning and afternoon. I did so in the morning, but was not suffered to conclude my subject (as I had designed) in the afternoon.’ (fn. 31)

The chapel was rebuilt in 1755 (fn. 32) at the expense of the inhabitants, (fn. 33) who in return were permitted to choose the next minister, the Rev. Parker Rowlands. (fn. 28) The new building (Plate 42a) was opened on 5 September 1756. (fn. 33) When Rowlands left in 1784, Granville Wheler appointed the Rev. John Hutton, a member of the Wheler family. (fn. 28)

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the chapel was again described as ’going now to ruin, all the old inhabitants dead or beggared, the silk trade being ruined’, and it even appears to have been closed for a time. (fn. 34) In return for carrying out the necessary repairs, the inhabitants were granted permission by Hastings Wheler to nominate the Rev. Josiah Pratt as their minister in 1810. (fn. 35) Pratt was a prominent Evangelical preacher who in 1804 had become evening lec turer at Christ Church, Spitalfields. He had also been associated with the founding of both the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society. (fn. 11) During Pratt's ministry, the Wheler Chapel became a centre of Evangelicalism. Among those who joined his congregation was Thomas Fowell Buxton, who said of his connexion with the chapel that ’Whatever I have done in my life for Africa, the seeds of it were sown in Wheler's Chapel’. (fn. 36) The Rev. Daniel Wilson, later Bishop of Calcutta, was a visiting preacher and a friend of Pratt's. (fn. 36) Wilson had been born in Spitalfields, at No. 14 Fournier Street, in 1778, the son of a wealthy silk manufacturer. (fn. 11) In 1811 the congregation of the Wheler Chapel formed the Spitalfields Benevolent Society, to visit and help the poor and destitute of the area. Josiah Pratt was the first president of the Society. (fn. 37)

After Pratt's departure in 1826 (fn. 11) the congregation declined, but three years later it revived when the Rev. Richard Tillard purchased the chapel and appointed the Rev. Edward Bickersteth as minister. (fn. 38) Bickersteth had been a secretary of the Church Missionary Society since 1816, and had served as an assistant at the chapel during the latter years of Pratt's ministry. He had also been active in the Spitalfields Benevolent Society. (fn. 11)

In 1840 £700 was raised by subscription to purchase the chapel, in order that it might be converted into a parish church, (fn. 39) and in the following year the property was conveyed by Philip Tillard to a body of trustees. (fn. 40) In return for the patronage of the new church, the trustees of Hyndman's Bounty offered an endowment of £ 1,000 and a permanent repair fund of £150. (fn. 41)

The building was once more in a dilapidated condition, and repairs were commenced in 1841. This work was far more extensive than had originally been contemplated, and cost £2,027 is. 7d. (fn. 39) The front was altered and stuccoed, a new bell turret was built, and the seating was rearranged to form a central aisle (Plate 42c). The architect for these alterations was Thomas Miller Rickman, the son of Thomas Rickman. (fn. 42)

Sir George Wheler's Chapel was consecrated by the Bishop of London as St. Mary's, Spital Square, on 24 February 1842 (fn. 41) and a district comprising the Liberties of Norton Folgate and the Old Artillery Ground was assigned shortly afterwards. (fn. 43) A vicarage and schools were added to the church by the Rev. Thomas Rees, who became perpetual curate in 1849. (fn. 44) The site of the vicarage, adjoining the church on the south side, was acquired from the Rev. Charles Wheler in 1852. (fn. 45) Mr. Rees designed the vicarage himself, submitting his designs through the Church Commissioners to Ewan Christian, who gave his approval after some alterations had been made. The building was commenced in 1854 and completed in April of the following year. (fn. 46)

Some alterations were made to the church in 1884. (fn. 38) (fn. c1) In 1898 Charles Booth described the work of the parish in some detail. From his account it is clear that despite a great deal of effort, St. Mary's was only just surviving in what was becoming an increasingly Jewish area. The church seated 450, but its largest attendance barely numbered 130 persons. (fn. 47)

In 1905 a commission was appointed by the Bishop of London to consider whether the church should be closed. This was done in 1911, (fn. 48) the Old Artillery Ground being added to the parish of Christ Church, Spitalfields, and Norton Folgate to St. Stephen's, Spitalfields. (fn. 49) The church and vicarage were sold in 1912. (fn. 50) The site was later acquired by the City Corporation, and is now covered by the Flower Market.

Sir George Wheler's Chapel, as rebuilt in 1755, was an unpretentious meeting-house, some sixty feet long and fifty feet wide, its oblong plan being correctly orientated with the communion-table against the east wall, probably flanked on the south by the pulpit, and on the north by the reader's and clerk's desks. In the west front towards Church Passage were two doorways, giving access to lobbies from which staircases, in the north-west and south-west angles, ascended to the gallery extending across the west end and along each side. The plain exterior was of brick, with long-and short quoins and an unmoulded parapet-band of stone. The segmental-headed doorways were dressed with eared band-architraves. Between the doorways was a segmental-arched window of squat proportion, and above the three openings were three round-arched windows, the middle one having a lugged apron. The pediment gable end contained a lunette window, and above the flattened apex rose an octagonal bell-turret with a louvred round-arched opening in each face and a domed cap crowned with a ball finial. The side elevations contained two tiers of five windows, the lower tier segmental-arched and the upper tier round-arched, and in the east wall was a plain Venetian window. The interior appears to have been equally simple in expression, decorative interest being given by the surround of the Venetian window above the reredos, and by the panelled gallery-front which was underlined by a triglyphed entablature and supported by slender Doric columns of wood.

In 1842 the building underwent considerable alteration (see fig. 26). The two doorways in the west front were converted to windows, with recessed panelled aprons, and a central doorway was formed, framed by a rusticated arch with keystones penetrating the entablature. This last supported a segmental-pedimented frame enclosing an inscribed tablet, replacing the middle window of the upper tier. The flanking windows were dressed with band-architraves and the brickwork was coated with stucco. The pediment was dressed with a cornice and the octagonal turret replaced by a square one, each face having a louvred arch-headed opening and finishing with a segmental pediment.

Figure 26:

St. Mary's Spital Square, plan. Based on the Ordnance Survey 1873–5

St. Mary's, Spital Square, C.E. Schools


The site of St. Mary's Schools, immediately adjoining the vicarage to the south, was purchased from the Rev. Charles Wheler in 1852. Apparently a school had been conducted before this date in one of the buildings on the site, presumably in connexion with the Wheler Chapel or St. Mary's Church. (fn. 51) In October 1852 plans for a school and teacher's apartments were submitted to the Office of Metropolitan Buildings by John Wallen of 5 Gresham Street (fn. 52) and presumably also of 11 Spital Square. In 1854 the Rev. Thomas Rees claimed that he had in fact designed the schools, and that Wallen had become insane during the course of the work. (fn. 46) The schools were opened in 1854 (fn. 53) and enlarged in 1871. (fn. 54) They were closed in 1908. (fn. 55)

Friends' Wheler Street Meeting-house, Quaker Street


In about 1656 a Friends' meeting was established in a house on the south side of Quaker Street. (fn. 56) Shortly afterwards the increasing number of members made it necessary to erect a separate building in the adjoining garden, which became known as ’Wheler Street Meeting-house’. This building is shown on a map of c. 1730 as lying halfway between Wheler Street and Grey Eagle Street, behind two houses on the south side of Quaker Street. (fn. 57) A deed of 1686 describes the building as consisting of ’one large room from top to bottom, surrounded by galleries, and two other rooms, and a large hovel or shed thereunto adjoining, together with all forms or benches, chairs or stools, &c’.

The meeting was severely persecuted after the Restoration, particularly by Sir John Robinson, Lieutenant of the Tower from 1663 to 1678, and for a time it rarely met without raids and arrests by the authorities. William Penn was taken into custody here early in 1670. At about the same time the meeting-house was saved from demolition at the hands of Robinson's soldiers, when the owner of the property leased it as a dwelling house to one of the members. During 1685 many prominent Friends attended the meeting, among them George Fox, George Whitehead, and William Penn.

The meeting remained large and influential, despite the increasing decay of its building, which in 1703 was severely damaged by the Great Storm, and continued to need constant repairs. In 1727, when a new lease was taken, the meeting decided to rebuild, but as the membership had already begun to decline this was not done. In 1740 the weekday meeting was given up, and two years later the meeting was disbanded altogether. By 1745 the building had partly collapsed, and in 1749 it was reported that ’Wheler Street Meetinghouse has tumbled down’.

French Church in Three Crown Court, Wheler Street


In 1700 Nonconformist French churches existed in ’Willow Street’ (probably Wheler Street) and Quaker Street, and a French church in ’Quaquers Street’ is mentioned again in the same year. (fn. 58) These may be references to a single congregation located near the intersection of Wheler Street and Quaker Street, which may perhaps be identified also with the congregation which dedicated a church in Three Crown Court, Wheler Street, on 16 May 1703. (fn. 59) This church existed until 14 March 1741/2, when it joined La Patente in Brown's Lane, (fn. 60) but the building is still shown as a chapel on Rocque's map of 1746. By 1750 it appears to have become part of Hope's brewery in Folgate Street. (fn. 61) The site is now occupied by part of Commercial Street.

St. Stephen's C.E. Schools, Quaker Street

St. Stephen's Schools were opened in 1872 by the Bishop of Rochester. (fn. 62) The site on the corner of Wheler Street and Quaker Street had been purchased in 1871 by the vicar and churchwardens of St. Stephen's from the Great Eastern Railway Company. (fn. 63) The building, which cost £6,000, was erected in 1871–2 from the designs of Messrs. Stone (Plate 47b). The three floors provided separate schools for infants, girls and boys, each with accommodation for 200 children. (fn. 62) The schools were closed in 1909 because it was felt that the proximity of the railway and traffic in Quaker Street made the building unsuitable. In 1929 the property was sold by the vicar and churchwardens, and is now used for industrial purposes.

The Victorian Gothic exterior, reflecting Butterfield's influence, is picturesque in mass and hard in detail, being built of yellow brick with dressings of red and white bricks, yellow terracotta, and stone. The Quaker Street front has a four-storeyed centre, three windows wide, with a steep roof of glazed pantiles containing three dormers. On the right is a gable-ended wing of the same height, with three grouped windows in each storey except the top, where a large pointed window of two lights rises into the gable. On the left is a narrow feature containing the gabled entrance archway, and alongside this is a short wing of three storeys, with a steep roof of pantiles presenting a gable-end towards Wheler Street. The arcaded ground storey of the centre and the right wing was, probably, open originally to give light and air to a covered playground. The windows of the class-rooms in the two principal storeys have pointed arches of red and white brickwork, rising from piers of yellow brick, and the top-storey windows in the centre have straight lintels resting on centrally placed columns of cast iron.

No. 41A Quaker Street

Formerly Quaker Street National Schools

Although much altered for commercial use, this National Schools building retains its original roof structure of three wide spans, and its simple Classical front of yellow brick, dressed with stucco or painted stone. The central feature of three bays projects slightly from the wings, each of two bays, and the round-arched heads of the doors and ground-storey windows are set in shallow recesses of the same form. The framing arches of the three middle windows rise from panelled impost-bands, and above the straight heads of the seven upper storey windows is a moulded cornice and blocking course.

For the history of this school, see Christ Church C.E. Primary School, Brick Lane (page 124).

The Bedford Institute, Quaker Street

In 1849 a ’First-day School’ for boys was established at No. 46 Quaker Street by a group of Friends from Devonshire House Meeting. (fn. 64) In 1865 the school was transferred to larger premises which had been erected at the corner of Quaker Street and Wheler Street on a site obtained from the Commissioners of Works. (fn. 65) The new build The new building was opened on 14 February 1865, under the name of the Bedford Institute, in honour of Peter Bedford, the Quaker philanthropist. (fn. 66) The architect was William Beck, (fn. 67) who had designed the Metropolitan Association estate in Mile End New Town, and who was active in the work of the Institute. (fn. 68) The builder was William Hen shaw, and the cost of the building was £3,278. (fn. 67) As well as accommodating the various activities of the organization, the Institute at first housed a working-men's club on the ground floor. This was moved to other premises in 1874. In 1894 the Bedford Institute was rebuilt on an enlarged site (fn. 68) from the designs of Rutland Saunders. (fn. 70) This building was opened on 18 February 1894. (fn. 71) After the war of 1939–45 it was felt that the work of the Institute was more needed elsewhere in London, and the building was sold in 1947. (fn. 64) It is now used for commercial premises.

In designing the 1865 building, Beck left his belated Georgian manner for the more fashionable Gothic, perhaps in compliment to the adjoining church of St. Stephen. His building had two lofty storeys over a semi-basement, and was surmounted by a high pitched roof with a gable-end on the Quaker Street front. There were two gable crowned bays projecting from the longer front to Wheler Street. The 1894 building is a florid English Renaissance design, reflecting the earlier manner of Norman Shaw, built in red brick with dressings of stone and terra-cotta. Pilasters divide each front into bays which contain two super imposed windows, with arched heads and shaped aprons. The Quaker Street front is surmounted by the large gable terminating the roof, and a gabled feature ends the Wheler Street front.

Nos. 1–3 (consec.) Church Passage

Formerly Nos. 1–3 (consec.) Tabernacle Yard. In 1937 Church Passage was renamed Nantes Passage


No. 1 (Plate 64b) was built by Samuel Worrall of Spitalfields, carpenter, under a sixty-year building lease granted to him by Granville Wheler, esquire, in July 1733. (fn. 72) Worrall leased the newly built house in May 1734 to Stephen Jeudwin at a yearly rent of £45. In September 1735 the lease was assigned by ’Samuel Worrall, citizen and mason of London’ to John Worrall of Spitalfields, carpenter, and another assignee: the Worralls concerned in this assignment were probably the builders of Berwick-on-Tweed Town Hall (see page 183).

In March 1734/5 Samuel Worrall the car penter had taken from Granville Wheler two fifty-nine-year leases of sites lying north of the above house and south of Sir George Wheler's Tabernacle, on which he had then already built two houses, Nos. 2 and 3 Church Passage. These leases were mortgaged by Worrall in March 1736 to a Bishopsgate physician. (fn. 74)

All three leases excepted a strip of land on the west side which was left as a passageway to the tabernacle and which the ground landlord reserved the right to convert into a street, provided that the landlord of the Tillard estate lying on its west side would add enough of his land to make a street fourteen feet wide. By the time of Rocque's map of 1746 this appears to have been done.

In the mid-nineteenth century No. 1 was a police station.

Nos. 2 and 3 were demolished in the 1850's for the building of the vicarage and school of St. Mary Spital Square (see pages 103?4) and No. 1 was demolished in the 1920's for street-widening con nected with the expansion of Spitalfields Market.

No. 1 Church Passage was a large double fronted house containing three storeys and a cellar-basement. The front was an excellent example of early Georgian design in brickwork, its distinctive features being the giant Doric pilasters at each end, features also appearing at No. 4/6 Fournier Street and Truman's Brewery house in Brick Lane. The shafts of the pilasters were in ordinary brick, but the capitals, frieze blocks and cornice, the latter carried across the front, were of fine red rubbers. There were five windows in each upper storey and two on either side of the doorway, all furnished with double hung sashes in exposed flush frames with straight heads, set in openings with segmental arches of red rubbers. The doorway was dressed with a wooden doorcase of simple Classical character, with a straight-headed moulded architrave and a cornice resting on moulded consoles.


  • n1. For Charles's and (Sir) George Wheler's property in Folgate Street see pages 77–80 and for their property in Hanbury Street see pages 192–3.
  • 1. Rev. Thomas Rackett, A Description of Otterden Place and Church … accompanied by Genealogical Memoirs of the Family of Wheler…. Extracted from the Gentleman's Magazine, 1832; D.N.B. sub Sir George Wheler.
  • 2. M.L.R. 1740/4/1/438; 1743/2/46; 1750/3/723.
  • 3. Ibid., 1753/1/361; 1743/4/147; 1743/2/45.
  • 4. Ibid., 1736/3/469.
  • 5. British Railways (Eastern Region), Great Eastern Railway deeds at Marylebone Station, S2/44I
  • 6. MS. of Mr. G. H. H. Wheler.
  • 7. British Railways etc., S2/68.
  • 8. Ibid., S2/83–5.
  • 9. Autobiography of Sir George Wheler, ed. E. G. Wheler, 1911, pp. 5–6; D.N.B.
  • 10. The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. E. S. de Beer, 1955, vol. iv, p. 358.
  • 11. D.N.B.
  • 12. A Memoir of Sir George Wheler, N.D. (B.M. 4902 f. 26).
  • 13. The Diary of John Evelyn etc., vol. iv, p. 528.
  • 14. S.C.L.L.C., Hamlet of Spitalfields Minutes, 24 June 1690.
  • 15. A True Narrative of the Case of Sir George Wheler, etc. (pamphlet inserted between pp. 344–5 of the extra-illustrated copy of Ellis's History of Shoreditch in Shoreditch Public Library).
  • 16. The Case of the Inhabitants of the Hamlet of Spittle-fields etc. (pamphlet in Shoreditch Public Library, see 15 above).
  • 17. H. M. Colvin, Fifty New Churches, in The Architectural Review, March 1950, p. 196.
  • 18. M.L.R. 1738/4/149.
  • 19. The Case of the Inhabitants, etc., and MS. of Mr. G. H. H. Wheler.
  • 20. A True Narrative etc., and MS. of Mr. G. H. H. Wheler.
  • 21. The Case of the Inhabitants etc.; MS. of Mr. G. H. H. Wheler; A Vindication of the Case of Spittlefields etc. (pamphlet in Bishopsgate Institute).
  • 22. The Case of the Inhabitants etc., and A Vindication etc.
  • 23. L.P.L., Minute Book I, 16 Nov. 1711 (Committee Minutes).
  • 24. James Paterson, Pietas Londinensis, 1714, pp. 269–70.
  • 25. C.J., vol. xxi, p. 221.
  • 26. Reasons Humbly Offer'd for Passing the Bill for Uniting the Moieties or Portions of the Rectory of Stepney etc. (B.M. 816.m.9.99).
  • 27. Corporation of London Comptroller's deeds, 929/31 (will of Sir George Wheler).
  • 28. Rev. George Rigg, A Brief History of St. Mary's, Spital Square, N.D., pp. 12–13 (copy in Bishopsgate Institute).
  • 29. Robert Seymour, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, 1734, vol. ii, p. 729.
  • 30. M.L.R. 1732/2/261.
  • 31. Journal of John Wesley, ed. N. Curnock, 1903, p. 64.
  • 32. Inscribed stone now in Christ Church.
  • 33. Ellis, pp. 344–5.
  • 34. Parish Magazine of St. Mary's, Spital Square, May 1891 (copy in Bishopsgate Institute).
  • 35. Rigg, op. cit., pp. 14–19.
  • 36. Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, N.S. vol. ii, 1913, p. 469.
  • 37. First Report of the Spitalfields Benevolent Society, 1812 (copy in Bishopsgate Institute).
  • 38. Parish Magazine etc., Dec. 1893.
  • 39. Ibid., May 1892.
  • 40. M.L.R. 1842/4/268.
  • 41. Rigg, op. cit., pp. 14–20; Parish Magazine etc., May 1892.
  • 42. R.I.B.A. Library, drawings.
  • 43. Parish Magazine etc., Dec. 1890.
  • 44. G. Hennessy, Novum Repertorium Ecclesiasticum Parochiale Londinense, 1898, p. 402.
  • 45. Corporation of London Comptroller's deeds, 929/31.
  • 46. C.C., File 6362.
  • 47. Charles Booth, Life and Labour of the People in London, 3rd series, No. 2, 1902, pp. 13–15.
  • 48. Parish Magazine etc., press cutting inserted in Bishopsgate Institute copy.
  • 49. Rigg, op. cit., p. 20.
  • 50. C.C., File 28529.
  • 51. Deeds in possession of Messrs. Walters and Hart.
  • 52. M.B.O., Approvals of Third Class Buildings, vol. 30, pp. 333–43.
  • 53. Parish Magazine etc., June 1892.
  • 54. Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, N.S., vol. ii, p. 474.
  • 55. Parish Magazine etc., July 1910.
  • 56. This account is based on W. Beck and T. F. Ball, The London Friends’ Meetings, 1869, pp. 162–166.
  • 57. MS. map in possession of Messrs. Walters and Hart.
  • 58. Procs. Hug. Soc, vol. i, 1887, p. 100; vol. viii, 1909, p. 49.
  • 59. Register of the Church of Wheler Street etc., ed. Susan Minet, in Pubs. Hug. Soc, vol. xlv, 1956, pp. v and i in Wheler Street section.
  • 60. Ibid., and J. S. Burn, The History of the French … Protestant Refugees Settled in England, 1846, p. 176.
  • 61. R.B.
  • 62. The Builder, 9 Nov. 1872, p. 891.
  • 63. L.C.C.R.O., Acc. 56.82, deed of 26 May 1871.
  • 64. Quaker Street 1849–1949; The Bedford Institute Association Centenary Report.
  • 65. The Building News, 14 April 1865, pp. 260–1; P.R.O., C54/16558.
  • 66. A. T. Alexander, Fifty Tears of the Bedford Institute, 1865–1915), N.D., p. 10; Quaker Street, etc.
  • 67. The Building News, loc. cit.
  • 68. Alexander, op.cit., pp.9–10; P.R.O., C54/16558.
  • 70. Information supplied by the Bedford Institute Association.
  • 71. Alexander, op. cit., facing p. 36.
  • 72. M.L.R. 1735/4/174.
  • 74. Ibid., 1735/5/291–2; 1736/1/77.
  • c1. These included a new ceiling and cornice, architraves added to the windows, galleries considerably altered and the old-fashioned pulpit and reading-desk replaced, all under the supervision of the architect D. R. Dale (see The Builder, 23 August 1884, p.280, 13 December 1884, p.809).