Staines: Protestant nonconformity

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Staines: Protestant nonconformity', in 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, (London, 1962) pp. 30-31. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]


John James, a Presbyterian ejected from his living in 1622, had settled in Staines by 1669, and was licensed to preach there in 1672. He also preached in other places nearby, but had left Staines by 1690. (fn. 1) A meeting-house in Staines, which may have been Presbyterian, was registered in 1690. (fn. 2) Robert Chantrye, the son of another ejected Presbyterian, was minister at Staines from 1712 to 1734, (fn. 3) and there was a Presbyterian meeting-house by the market-house in 1716. (fn. 4) The Presbyterians were said to have a meeting-house in 1778, but they are not referred to after this. (fn. 5)

By 1676 there were Quakers in Staines who met every fortnight in the house of one of their number. A meeting-house was built in 1712 in the lane behind the market-house (fn. 6) (later Quaker's Lane or Blackboy Lane). (fn. 7) In 1765 the meeting also acquired a burial ground behind Church Street. (fn. 8) Between 1775 and 1818 from seven to sixteen Quakers owed tithes in various years: (fn. 9) they included members of the local banking and brewing Ashby family, who remained strong supporters of the meeting until the 20th century. In 1810 meetings were held at Staines, Uxbridge, and Isleworth in rotation, but by 1820 they were held every week in Staines. (fn. 10) In 1844 a new meeting-house was built to the south of the High Street, nearly on the site of the present one. (fn. 11) It was a classical building designed by Samuel Danvers (see plate facing p. 30). (fn. 12) The old meetinghouse was later used as a school and was demolished when the area was cleared for the Town Hall, or shortly before. (fn. 13) During the later 19th century the number of members reached a peak of about 50: in 1868 34 of the members were Ashbys. (fn. 14) At the same time and earlier the Friends supplied the chief support of the several undenominational schools in the town. (fn. 15) A mission meeting was established at Stanwell for a few years in the early 20th century, (fn. 16) but later the Staines meeting declined in numbers and activity: this was perhaps partly the result of a decline in the size and influence of the Ashby family. The meeting-house, with part of the appurtenant land, was sold in 1936 and was demolished. A cottage and the adjoining burial ground were retained and a wooden meeting-house was erected there in 1937. The membership rose again from about 20 in 1930 to 32 in 1956. (fn. 17)

John Wesley visited Staines in 1771 and preached in a house which had just been fitted up for the purpose. (fn. 18) He recorded an enthusiastic reception and according to the Anglican authorities the number of Methodists increased between 1778 and 1810. (fn. 19) There does not seem to have been a proper chapel before about 1845, (fn. 20) but the Wesleyan minister from Windsor registered a dwelling-house in Staines for religious worship in 1825. (fn. 21) By 1865, and probably twenty years before, the Wesleyan chapel stood on the site of the present Salvation Army fortress in the Kingston Road. (fn. 22) This chapel was replaced in 1890 by the present building in the Gothic style on the other side of the road. (fn. 23) It is built in red brick with stone dressings and has a south-west spire. In 1957 the church had about 160 members. (fn. 24) A Primitive Methodist chapel was built in Richmond Road in 1878. (fn. 25) It was closed in the 1890's, after the opening of the new Wesleyan church and of a Primitive Methodist church in Egham. (fn. 26) The building is still in existence and is used as a factory.

There was said to be a Baptist meeting-house in 1778 and 1810. (fn. 27) Three successive pastors served it before the congregation declined and it was closed. It was reopened in 1824 and the church was formed and a resident pastor was appointed in the following year. This meeting-house stood in or near Church Street and was replaced in 1837 by the present building in Bridge Street. The church had some 60 members in 1860, c. 1873, and 1957. (fn. 28) Another Baptist church, the Bethel Chapel in Church Street, was in existence in 1853. It had been closed by 1866. (fn. 29)

A congregation of 28 Independents was formed in 1789 and a minister was appointed at the same time. (fn. 30) A meeting-house was built in Tilley's Lane in 1802, (fn. 31) which was demolished when another was erected in its stead in Thames Street. This second chapel was designed by W. Higgins and opened in 1837. It was brick, with a stucco main front and an Ionic portico looking towards the High Street. (fn. 32) New schoolrooms were added behind in 1867 and used for some years as day schools. In 1956 this church was demolished for road-widening and a new one, designed by J. P. Blake, was opened. It is built in red brick, and the low tower, at the west end, has a pyramidal roof behind a parapet and glass bricks set in the form of a cross on three sides. In 1861 the church had over 70 members; the highest number was apparently 147 in 1934. (fn. 33) In 1956 there were 109. (fn. 34)

The Hale Street Room was opened about 1880 as a place of worship of the Brethren. (fn. 35) The centre portion of the building had formerly been a school, probably the boy's British school. The corrugated iron part behind was added in the late 19th century, and the brick part in front in 1954. In 1957 there were some 60 members. (fn. 36)

The Salvation Army bought the former Wesleyan chapel in Kingston Road in 1891, and used it until 1952, when it was replaced by a new building on the same site. (fn. 37)

The Blue Ribbon Gospel Army met in rooms in Mill Mead for some years around 1882. (fn. 38)

Some Christian Scientists who had been meeting in a private house in Ashford since 1938 began to hold their services in the girl guides' hut in Station Path, Staines, in 1947. The group became recognized as a full branch of the church in 1949, and was still occupying the hut in 1956. (fn. 39)

The Kingdom Hall, in Chestnut Grove, was opened by Jehovah's Witnesses in or shortly before 1951, in place of a hall in Woodthorpe Road, Ashford. (fn. 40)

The Staines and District Council of Churches, which embraced the Anglican and nonconformist churches, had been in existence for over fifteen years by 1957. (fn. 41)


  • 1. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 293-4.
  • 2. Mdx. Cty. Recs. Sess. Bks. 1689-1709, 14.
  • 3. Calamy Revised, 109.
  • 4. Guildhall MS. 9579.
  • 5. Ibid. 9557, 9558.
  • 6. W. Beck and T. F. Ball, London Friends' Meetings, 284.
  • 7. M.R.O., D P. 103, 1016.
  • 8. Beck and Ball, op. cit.
  • 9. Par. Rec., Vicar's Tithe Acct. Bk. 1775-9; Churchwardens' Acct. Bk.
  • 10. Acct. of Meetings of Soc. of Friends (1810, 1820) (copy at Friends' Ho., London).
  • 11. Beck and Ball, op. cit.
  • 12. Colvin, Dict. Engl. Architects, 1660-1840, 168.
  • 13. See p. 32.
  • 14. List of Members of Quarterly Meeting of Lond. and Mdx. (1868 and later edns.) (copy at Friends' Ho.).
  • 15. See p. 32.
  • 16. See p. 49.
  • 17. Acct. of Meetings of Soc. of Friends (1920 and later edns.); Friends' Ho., Westm. and Longford Monthly Meeting Min. Bk. 1932-4, p. 89; 1934-6, pp. 71, 140, 220.
  • 18. John Wesley's Journal, ed. N. Curnock, v. 437; vi. 454.
  • 19. Guildhall MS. 9558.
  • 20. Ibid.; Trotter, Sel. Topog. of 30 miles round Lond. (1839), 143; M.R.O., Staines Tithe Award; Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1845).
  • 21. Guildhall MS. 9580/6, p. 24.
  • 22. O.S. Map 1/2,500 Mdx. xxiv. 3 (1st edn.); cf. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1845); Gen. Reg. Off., Worship Reg. no. 5389.
  • 23. Jubilee Souvenir of Methodist Ch. Staines (1940).
  • 24. Ex inf. the Revd. F. A. Steele, Staines.
  • 25. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1886).
  • 26. Ex inf. Mr. H. W. Green, Staines.
  • 27. Guildhall MS. 9558.
  • 28. Staines Baptist Ch. Centenary Souvenir (1925); ex inf. the Revd. G. Andrew, Staines.
  • 29. Gen. Reg. Off., Worship Reg.
  • 30. C. R. Garwood, Story of Congreg. Ch. Staines, 1789- 1956 (1956).
  • 31. Guildhall MS. 9580/2, 10 June 1802; files of Char. Com.
  • 32. See plate facing p. 14.
  • 33. Garwood, op. cit.
  • 34. Congreg. Year Bk. (1856).
  • 35. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1882).
  • 36. Ex inf. a member of the ch.
  • 37. Jubilee Souvenir of the Methodist Ch. Staines (1940); inscr. on building.
  • 38. Gen. Reg. Off., Worship Reg. no. 26668.
  • 39. Ex inf. the clerk of the society.
  • 40. Gen. Reg. Off., Worship Reg. no. 63021.
  • 41. Ex inf. the Revd. G. Andrew.