Hanwell: Protestant nonconformity

Pages 233-235

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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As late as 1810 there were said to be no dissenters in Hanwell, (fn. 1) and the first record of the formation of a meeting dates from 1818, when a room in a private house near the 'King's Arms' was registered as a place of worship and a Sunday school. (fn. 2) This was an Independent meeting, and so was another registered three years later by a schoolmaster who also used this second meeting-place as a school. (fn. 3) A few years later again, in 1824, the same man registered a new building 'opposite the road leading to Brentford'. (fn. 4) This may have been the chapel which later stood on the west side of the road at the junction of the Boston and Lower Boston Roads. Parts of the fabric may still (1959) survive, incorporated in a cycle-repair shop there. (fn. 5) Whether or not it was the building registered in 1824, it was almost certainly this chapel which was registered in 1827 by a group of Independents. (fn. 6) The denominational position of this group is uncertain: in 1836 a church was formed, called a church of Christ and meeting in 'the Hanwell chapel' where a former 'church of Christ' had met. Two at least of the founders were among those who registered the Boston Road building in 1827, and two others gave their qualifications for membership as having been Wesleyans for many years. The church of 1836 is to be regarded as the direct ancestor of the Baptist and Congregational Union church formed in 1869, and may perhaps best be described as a Calvinistic free church. The members arranged to celebrate the Lord's supper once a month and later made quarterly offertories whose distribution through a Samaritan fund constituted, with the regulation of membership, the chief business of their meetings. (fn. 7) The Tithe Award of 1837 described the Boston Road chapel as belonging to the Society of Methodists, (fn. 8) and the only free church in the parish to be mentioned in Kelly's Directory of 1845 was said to be Wesleyan. (fn. 9) In 1831, 1851, and 1862, however, the only nonconformist church was apparently Independent and the building was described as an Independent chapel in 1864. (fn. 10) Between 1844 and 1866, when there is a gap in the minutes preserved by the later Union church, there seems to have been a resident minister who kept a separate book. The minutes were resumed after his death, and in 1867 a new resident minister, G. R. Lowden, was appointed. (fn. 11) He remained here until 1906 and became chairman of the Hanwell School Board when it was formed in 1899. (fn. 12) At his appointment the church had sixteen members. Two years later, when a new building in Westminster Road was opened, there were 242. (fn. 13) The new church was a Baptist and Congregational Union church: (fn. 14) the relationship to it of a meeting of Baptists at the Viaduct Inn, which was registered in 1867, has not been established. (fn. 15) The old chapel in the Boston Road was sold in 1869. (fn. 16) A schoolroom was built beside the Union church in 1870 and a British day school was started in 1871. (fn. 17) The church and school buildings were again extended in 1878. (fn. 18) The singing of chants in services was introduced in the face of some opposition about 1871. (fn. 19) In 1952 the church severed its Congregational connexion and became purely Baptist. It belonged to the Baptist Union and is believed to have always had open membership. (fn. 20) There were 62 members in 1958. (fn. 21)

Another Baptist church was founded in 1926 with a building standing further south along the Boston Road. The church was bombed in 1940 and services were thereafter held in the temporary church hall which had been erected beside it about two years before. This church had 47 members in 1958. (fn. 22) In 1959 the Union and Boston Road churches united as the South Hanwell Baptist Church, with about 60 founder-members. The ragstone Gothic Union church in the Westminster Road was given up, since the cost of necessary repairs was prohibitive, and services were held in the Boston Road temporary church pending the building of a permanent church on the site. (fn. 23)

The North Hanwell Baptist church in Cuckoo Avenue was founded from Haven Green, Ealing, in 1938. (fn. 24) The Hanwell Methodist church (see below) had established a Sunday school on the Cuckoo estate the year before, and this was taken over by the Baptist church. (fn. 25) There were 62 members in 1958, meeting in the original temporary wooden building. The church belongs to the Baptist Union. (fn. 26)

Hanwell is said to have been part of the Methodist Rivercourt circuit between 1830 and 1849. (fn. 27) Methodist activity in the parish at that time may have been connected with the Boston Road chapel, whose history has already been discussed. A temporary Primitive Methodist chapel in the Uxbridge road was registered in 1861 but is not referred to again: (fn. 28) it should perhaps be connected with the West Ealing Primitive Methodist church, also in the Uxbridge road. Whether or not the Boston Road chapel ever had any definite Wesleyan connexions, the origins of the present Methodist church in Hanwell can be traced back only to 1881. In that year a Wesleyan Society class was started in a private house on the corner of the Uxbridge Road and Church Road. After several removals a church was built in the Lower Boston Road in 1884, and in 1904 this was replaced by the present building in Church Road. The old chapel still survives as a Salvation Army hall. The new church is an aisled late-Gothic building of red brick with stone dressings and no tower. An evangelistic mission in the following year gave a great impetus to the life of the church and in 1908 a cottage mission was established in Wilmot Place, Boston Road. This was given up some years before the Second World War. During the early 1920's, when the then minister laid particular emphasis on the 'social gospel', the church's accommodation for 600 persons was sometimes overtaxed, and huts had to be built behind it to house part of the Sunday school. These were burnt down in 1952 and replaced by permanent buildings about 1957. The Methodist church at Greenford was founded from Hanwell, and between 1946 and 1952 the church at Perivale and since 1952 the church at Acton Green were under the care of the minister here. The Hanwell church had about 250 members in 1959. (fn. 29)

The Elthorne Park Presbyterian church in Elthorne Park Road was opened about 1907 and had been closed by 1922. (fn. 30) In 1959 the corrugated iron building still stood at the end of Seward Road and was used as part of a factory.

The Salvation Army registered a lecture hall in Hanwell for worship in 1891 and moved to a building in Station Road in 1903. About 1905 they took over the former Wesleyan chapel in Lower Boston Road and still occupied it in 1959. (fn. 31) The Blue Ribbon Gospel Army registered the Brent Coffee Tavern in the Uxbridge road for worship in 1883. This was given up by 1895. (fn. 32)

There was a mission hall, probably undenominational, at the south end of Church Road in 1895 and 1902, (fn. 33) another in Framfield Road in 1922, and another, called St. Margaret's Mission Room, in Rosebank Road in the same year. (fn. 34)


  • 1. Guildhall MS. 9558.
  • 2. Ibid. 9580/5, 31 Oct. 1818.
  • 3. Ibid. 23 Mar. 1821.
  • 4. Guildhall MS. 9580/6, f. 3.
  • 5. M.R.O., Hanwell Tithe Award; O.S. Map 1/2,500 Mdx. xv. 15 (1st edn).
  • 6. Guildhall MS. 9580/6, f. 173b.
  • 7. Min. Bk. penes the Revd. P. G. Kirby of S. Hanwell Baptist Ch., and ex inf. Mr. Kirby.
  • 8. M.R.O., Hanwell Tithe Award.
  • 9. See below for other references to Methodism in Hanwell at this time.
  • 10. Lewis, Topog. Dict. Eng. (1831); Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1851, 1862); O.S. Map 1/2,500 Mdx. xv. 15 (1st edn.).
  • 11. Min. Bk. penes Mr. Kirby; cf. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1845, 1851).
  • 12. TS. hist. of ch. penes Mr. Kirby; Mdx. Cty. Times, 5 Mar. 1900.
  • 13. Min. Bk. penes Mr. Kirby.
  • 14. Gen. Reg. Off., Worship Reg. no. 19100.
  • 15. Ibid. no. 17969.
  • 16. Min. Bk. penes Mr. Kirby.
  • 17. Ed. 7/87: for its history, see p. 235.
  • 18. Date on building.
  • 19. Min. Bk. penes Mr. Kirby.
  • 20. Ex inf. Mr. Kirby.
  • 21. Baptist Handbk. (1958).
  • 22. Ibid.; Gen. Reg. Off., Worship Reg. no. 58131; ex inf. Mr. Kirby.
  • 23. Ex inf. Mr. Kirby.
  • 24. Ibid.; Baptist Handbk. (1958).
  • 25. Methodist Ch. Hanwell: Jubilee Celebrations, 1954, 8 (copy penes Mr. L. A. Holliday, Hanwell).
  • 26. Baptist Handbk. (1958).
  • 27. Methodist Ch. Hanwell: Jubilee Celebrations, 1954, 4.
  • 28. Gen. Reg. Off., Worship Reg. no. 14155.
  • 29. Methodist Ch. Hanwell: Jubilee Celebrations, 1954, and ex inf. Mr. L. A. Holliday.
  • 30. Gen. Reg. Off., Worship Reg. no. 42275.
  • 31. Ibid. nos. 32654, 39609, 41057.
  • 32. Ibid. no. 27488.
  • 33. O.S. Map 1/2,500 Mdx. xv. 12 (2nd edn.); Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1902).
  • 34. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1922).