Religious history: Introduction

Page 236

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2004.

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THE earliest indication of Chelsea as a parish or the existence of a church is in 1157, when as the church of 'Chelcheia' it was among those confirmed to the abbey by Pope Adrian IV. (fn. 1) All indications suggest that the medieval parish with its small population was rather poor, and even in the mid 16th century had no lavish plate or rich furnishings. (fn. 2) There is little evidence of religious controversies in the 16th or 17th centuries, and the advent of other religious groups, such as the Huguenots in the late 17th century or Roman Catholics in the late 18th, seems to have caused little difficulty.

In 1838 Chelsea was reckoned to have 14 places of worship, 7 of them Anglican and one Roman Catholic; the protestant nonconformists' 6 chapels provided 3,160 places, compared with the Roman Catholics' 600 and the Church of England's 7,350. (fn. 3) In 1851 there were estimated to be 28 places of worship in the parish, of which 12 were Anglican, one was Roman Catholic, and the remainder protestant nonconformist. (fn. 4) In 1998 in addition to 6 Anglican churches Chelsea had 14 non-Anglican certified places of worship, of which three were Roman Catholic, one was Muslim, and one Jewish. The Church of Scotland and the Moravians still worshipped in the parish together with 6 protestant nonconformist sects. (fn. 5)


  • 1. BL, Cott. Faust. A. iii, f. 165.
  • 2. Rest of para. based on sections of Rel. Hist. below.
  • 3. London City Mission Mag. III. 125.
  • 4. Religious Census, 1851.
  • 5. List supplied by ONS (Birkdale). Nos are for Chelsea part of RBKC.