Enfield: Protestant nonconformity

Pages 250-253

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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John Chishul (d. 1672), a Congregationalist, established a school in Enfield after his expulsion from the rectory of Tiverton (Devon) in 1660. (fn. 1) In 1672 John Sheffield (d. 1680), the ejected rector of St. Swithin, London Stone, was licensed to preach in Enfield, (fn. 2) where in 1672 a house belonging to John Hocklie was licensed for Presbyterian worship. (fn. 3) Congregationalists began meeting in Baker Street in 1687 and built the first nonconformist chapel in the parish in 1689. (fn. 4) Quakers met from 1667 and later acquired a meeting-house on the eastern side of Baker Street; their meetings ceased in 1794 and the house was afterwards turned into two dwellings. (fn. 5) A Baptist, Joseph Maisters (d. 1717), was licensed to preach in Baker Street in 1689 (fn. 6) but his congregation does not seem to have survived him. William Parnell was found guilty in 1685 of holding unlawful conventicles in his house. (fn. 7)

Quakers and Congregationalists were the only nonconformists to flourish in the early 18th century. Congregationalists began meeting at Ponders End in 1745 and later built a permanent church, perhaps giving rise to a comment in 1766 that there were many dissenters in the parish. (fn. 8) In 1780 a second Congregationalist chapel was built in Chase Side and served from the countess of Huntingdon's college at Cheshunt (Herts.). Another chapel was built near by, after a schism in 1791, and united with the older church in 1871. (fn. 9) Six places of worship, most of them temporary, were registered by Congregationalists at Ponders End and Enfield Highway between 1797 and 1816; (fn. 10) small chapels at Whitewebbs and Botany Bay, serving remoter areas, were opened later in the 19th century.

There was a Methodist chapel in 1790, when it was said that Methodists had greatly increased, (fn. 11) and a short-lived Wesleyan chapel in Turkey Street in 1824. (fn. 12) Wesleyans reappeared in Baker Street in 1844, (fn. 13) at Ponders End in 1849, and at Enfield Wash in 1859. Primitive Methodists acquired a barn at Chase Side, in 1852, where services were 'conducted and visited by but a few persons of the labouring classes'. (fn. 14) Baptist chapels recorded in 1816 and 1824 (fn. 15) seem to have been short-lived, as was a Particular Baptist church in Baker Street opened in 1861. In 1868, however, new Baptist churches were built at Enfield Town and in Totteridge Road, Enfield Wash. Strict Baptists, in Turkey Street by 1852, (fn. 16) later established chapels at Enfield Wash and at Ponders End. Brethren were worshipping in 1873 in a room facing Chase Green. (fn. 17) Other sects in the late 19th century included the Mormons, whose first chapel, at Ponders End, was opened in 1865, and the Salvation Army, who opened their first hall, at Enfield Wash, in 1883.

In 1862 there were 10 nonconformist chapels, 6 of them Congregationalist, 3 Wesleyan Methodist, and one Primitive Methodist. (fn. 18) By 1900 all the larger sects were represented except the Presbyterians, who began worshipping at Enfield Town in 1902 and opened a church in 1907. Protestant nonconformists accounted for more than two-fifths of one Sunday's 15,015 worshippers in 1903, Anglicans totalling 8,123 and Roman Catholics 404. The most numerous were Congregationalists with 2,738 worshippers, followed by Methodists with 1,312 and Brethren with 601. (fn. 19) Nonconformist churches were built in the period between the World Wars to serve new housing estates at Cockfosters and in the eastern part of the parish but their total numbers fell after the Second World War as some older buildings, notably at Enfield Town, were closed. In 1970 there were 4 Baptist, 5 Congregational, and 4 Methodist churches, one Presbyterian church, and 13 churches or halls belonging to other denominations.


Baker Street meeting-house originated in a group established by Obadiah Hughes (d. 1705), a minister from Plymouth, which used a barn in 1687 and acquired new premises in 1689. A new chapel was built in 1702 and altered in 1752, 1771, and 1848. Schoolrooms were added in 1860 and a larger chapel, to seat 500, was built in 1862. (fn. 20) From 1924 until 1933 the chapel was used as a Salvation Army hall. (fn. 21) In 1933 it was taken over by Baptists and renamed Emmanuel Baptist church. (fn. 22)

Ponders End Congregationalists met in 1745 in a house at Scotland Green belonging to Lady Collutt. A plain chapel with round-headed windows was built in High Street in 1757 and a church hall was built in 1908 and enlarged in 1922. (fn. 23) The chapel, which seated 600, (fn. 24) was damaged by bombs in 1940 and was later demolished, whereupon the congregation moved to the church hall. In 1959 a brick church and adjoining hall, designed by Ernest W. Banfield & Son, were opened and the older hall was demolished. (fn. 25) Congregationalists also met in South Street from 1856 until 1866. (fn. 26)

In Chase Side Zion or the Old Independent chapel, seating 210, was built in 1780 at the expense of Peter Dupont, a retired London innkeeper. In 1791 the congregation split over the appointment of a minister who was later expelled for bigamy and Chase Side chapel was erected immediately north of Zion chapel. The new chapel, although considered socially superior, (fn. 27) was badly built and replaced by a larger one in 1832. (fn. 28) In 1871 the two congregations re-united (fn. 29) and in 1875 Christ Church was built on the site of Zion chapel. Christ Church, a large cruciform building of brick faced with Kentish rag, was designed in the Decorated style by J. Tarring & Sons. (fn. 30) The old Chase Side chapel survived in 1911 as a lecture hall (fn. 31) but was later demolished.

At Enfield Highway a chapel seating 130 was built c. 1820 (fn. 32) and replaced in 1854 by a building with a schoolroom attached, on the western side of Hertford Road and south of the junction with Hoe Lane. (fn. 33) A new church opened in 1896, closed in 1924, (fn. 34) and subsequently became a co-operative hall. (fn. 35)

At Whitewebbs a building was used by Congregationalists in 1832 (fn. 36) and a chapel near the King and Tinker inn was registered in 1861 by the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion and closed in 1959. (fn. 37) In 1873 it was served by students from Cheshunt College (Herts.) (fn. 38) and in 1921 by Christ Church, Chase Side. (fn. 39)

At Botany Bay services were held in 1851 in a small chapel, seating 66. (fn. 40) The chapel, like that at Whitewebbs, had links with the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, although it was usually described as Independent. It was closed in 1896. (fn. 41)

At Lancaster Road an iron church was used from 1880 (fn. 42) until a permanent building was opened by Christ Church in 1885. In 1909 a Congregational institute was built near by in Armfield Road and services were held there, while the building in Lancaster Road became a hall. In 1917 the congregation separated from Christ Church, under the name of Armfield Road Congregational church, but in 1937 the building in Lancaster Road was reoccupied and enlarged and in 1938 it was rededicated as Lancaster Road Congregational church. (fn. 43) The church is a plain brick building with a rose window and a short spire at the western end.

Bush Hill Park church began as a Baptist mission in the later Wheatsheaf hall, Main Avenue, in 1881. It was taken over by Congregationalists, who from 1887 met in the new Avenue hall, Sixth Avenue. The modern church in Main Avenue was erected in 1910, largely at the expense of George Spicer, and was later given the additional name of the George Spicer memorial church. Avenue hall was sold in 1936. (fn. 44)

At Cockfosters a church in Freston Gardens was built in 1939 with proceeds from the sale of Finsbury Park Congregational church (Hornsey). In 1958 a hall, Freston hall, was built. (fn. 45)

Methodists. (fn. 46)

Enfield Methodist (W) church originated in meetings in a wooden hut in a garden in Baker Street in 1845, services previously having been held in a room in Bonnett's Yard, Baker Street. (fn. 47) In 1864 a brick church in Cecil Road was opened, with seating for 250, and 1889 it was replaced by a ragstone Gothic building, with a spire, at the western end of Church Street. (fn. 48) The church in Cecil Road was later used by St. Andrew's National school. (fn. 49) In 1919 the new church was gutted by fire and immediately rebuilt, with stained-glass memorial windows. The church hall was built in 1914. (fn. 50)

Ponders End (W) church began when a chapel, of unknown location, was built in 1849. (fn. 51) In 1892 another chapel was built at the eastern end of South Street (fn. 52) and in 1931 the modern brick church was built on the western side of High Street. (fn. 53) Another chapel, in Alma Road, existed from 1882 to 1898. (fn. 54)

Ordnance Road (W) church was founded in 1859, when a small brick chapel was opened in Grove Road. In 1879 it was replaced by an iron building in Ordnance Road, which was itself replaced by a brick chapel and schoolroom in 1904. A new red-brick church, of cruciform plan, was built and opened in 1957. It stands south of the church built in 1904, which in 1973 served as the church hall. (fn. 55)

Chase Side (P) church began with meetings on the green in 1851. A barn near the Holly Bush was taken over in 1852 and a new brick chapel and schoolroom to its south were opened in 1858. (fn. 56) The congregation moved in 1894 to another brick chapel on the opposite side of Chase Side, which was closed in 1957. (fn. 57) The chapel then became a Salvation Army hall (fn. 58) and the congregation united with Enfield Methodist (formerly Wesleyan) church. (fn. 59)

St. John's church, Great Cambridge Road, was erected in 1960 as a dual-purpose building, five years after services had started in a hut. (fn. 60)

Strict Baptists.

Ebenezer chapel, Baker Street, was registered by Particular Baptists in 1861 but closed in 1866. (fn. 61)

Providence chapel was built in Alma Road, Enfield Wash, in 1863 by Strict Baptists who had formerly worshipped in Baker Street and in Grove Road. (fn. 62) The building, known as Enfield Highway Baptist chapel, was replaced in 1875 by the Providence chapel, Putney Road, (fn. 63) which seated 40 and survived in 1973. (fn. 64)


Enfield Baptist church was founded with help from C. H. Spurgeon in 1867, when services were held in a room over the Rising Sun, Church Street. An iron chapel in London Road was opened later in that year, and Enfield Baptist tabernacle, an impressive classical building of brick with stone dressings, was opened in London Road in 1875. Membership at first was for Particular Baptists, although open communion was permitted. (fn. 65) A lecture hall which formed part of the tabernacle was enlarged in 1882 and the site of the National school was bought as a Sunday school hall in 1890. (fn. 66) The tabernacle was sold in 1925 and in 1926 a plain brick church was opened in Cecil Road, (fn. 67) where there was seating for 400 in 1972. (fn. 68)

Emmanuel Baptist church, formerly the Congregationalist chapel in Baker Street, was registered by the Old Baptist Union in 1933 and still used in 1973. (fn. 69)

Totteridge Road church was opened with help from Spurgeon in 1868 for members who had met in Enfield Highway Congregational church and previously at Waltham Cross (Herts.). Although originally described as Particular Baptists, the congregation has always permitted open communion and belonged to the Baptist Union. A larger brick church was built in front of the older one in 1871 and seated 450 in 1972. The original building became a hall, which was replaced in 1933. (fn. 70)

Eden chapel originated in a chapel which existed in Napier Road, Ponders End, from 1880 to 1892, when it was replaced by one in South Street. (fn. 71) Eden chapel itself, a small brick building in Nags Head Road, was registered in 1898 (fn. 72) but was derelict in 1971.

Suffolks church originated in a Sunday school started in 1934 by Enfield Baptist church to serve the new housing estates of eastern Enfield. Land in Carterhatch Lane was purchased in 1938 and the church, a plain brick structure with seating for 250, was built in 1957. (fn. 73)

Salvation Army.

Halls in South Street, Ponders End, and Grove Road, Enfield Wash, were registered in 1885; the first closed in 1896 and the second in 1903. (fn. 74) A hall in Seventh Avenue, Bush Hill Park, was registered in 1902 and replaced in 1926. (fn. 75) In 1971 Salvationists also used a hall in Chase Side, acquired from the Primitive Methodists in 1957. (fn. 76) Other halls temporarily occupied by the Army have been in Ordnance Road (1910-12), Lancaster Road (1911-57), South Street, Ponders End (1912-54), and Baker Street (1924-33). (fn. 77)


A lecture hall at the western end of Church Street was built in 1902 and used for services until 1907, when the church of St. Paul was opened. The church, a ragstone building in the 13th-century Gothic style, was designed by William Wallace and was originally intended to have a spire. (fn. 78) It could seat c. 500 in 1973. (fn. 79)

Other Denominations.

Mormons held services in a house in Alma Road, Ponders End, from 1865 until 1876. (fn. 80) In 1882 a group of anti-polygamy Mormons opened a chapel in Baker Street, which was closed in 1896. (fn. 81) Another group, called the Reorganized Latter-Day Saints, in 1912 registered a house in Baker Street (fn. 82) and in 1929 (fn. 83) built a small brick church in Lancaster Road, which was used in 1971.

Alma Hope chapel, New Road, Ponders End, existed from 1875 to 1896. (fn. 84) A mission hall in Alma Road near by was registered for worship in 1879 by the Ponders End mission and closed in 1896. (fn. 85)

Protestant dissenters registered a chapel at Botany Bay in 1882 and closed it in 1897. (fn. 86) In 1971 there was an undenominational chapel in East Lodge Lane, Botany Bay.

Enfield Town Evangelical Free church, Cecil Road, was built in 1897. It was severely damaged in the Second World War and replaced in 1956 by a plain brick building, with seating for 250. (fn. 87)

An iron room in Coopers Lane, on the boundary near Potters Bar, was registered by Brethren in 1897 and closed in 1961. (fn. 88)

A mission hall in Shirley Road existed in 1898. (fn. 89) It was registered by unspecified Christians in 1901 and replaced by the modern brick building, Shirley Road Gospel hall, in 1960. (fn. 90) Enfield Highway Gospel hall, Hertford Road, was registered by Brethren in 1903 (fn. 91) and was still used in 1971. Brethren also registered a gospel hall in Leighton Road, Bush Hill Park, in 1910, (fn. 92) where they remained in 1971, and worshipped at the Causeway hall by 1927. (fn. 93) They registered a meeting room in Chase Side in 1921 (fn. 94) and Primrose hall, Lavender Road, in 1926 (fn. 95) but no longer used either place in 1971.

Jehovah's Witnesses registered a garage at no. 179 Baker Street, formerly the nonconformist school of industry, (fn. 96) as a Kingdom hall in 1940. (fn. 97) They moved to a new hall, seating 200, at no. 1910 Baker Street in 1970. (fn. 98)

The Assemblies of God registered Waldron hall, Genotin Road, in 1947 but ceased to use it in 1964. (fn. 99) From 1949 they also worshipped in a new brick chapel in Lincoln Road, (fn. 100) which in 1971 was styled Lincoln Road Pentecostal chapel.

The Beacon of Light Christian Spiritualist church, at no. 331 Carterhatch Lane, was registered in 1949 (fn. 101) and still used in 1971.

An unsectarian mission room at Brigadier Hill existed in 1898. (fn. 102) In 1951 Brigadier hall was registered by undesignated Christians (fn. 103) and in 1970 it was replaced by a two-storeyed brick and weatherboarded building, combining the Brigadier Free church with a youth centre. (fn. 104)

The London City Mission held services in Baker Street in 1873. (fn. 105) In 1955 the mission registered a plain brick hall in Turkey Street. (fn. 106)

A room at no. 23 Heene Road was registered by unspecified Christians in 1969. (fn. 107)


  • 1. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 115.
  • 2. Ibid. 436.
  • 3. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1672, 237.
  • 4. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 282; Ford, Enfield, 331; see below.
  • 5. W. Beck and T. F. Ball, Lond. Friends' Meetings, 301; Robinson, Enfield, ii. 127.
  • 6. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 333.
  • 7. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. iv. 286.
  • 8. Guildhall MS. 9554, f. 432.
  • 9. See below.
  • 10. Guildhall MS. 9580/1-4.
  • 11. Ibid. 9558, f. 432.
  • 12. Ibid. 9580/6, f. 73.
  • 13. Ibid. /8, f. 207.
  • 14. Tuff, Enfield, 115.
  • 15. Guildhall MS. 9580/5.
  • 16. C 54/14410/6, pt. 88.
  • 17. Ford, Enfield, 334.
  • 18. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1862).
  • 19. Mudie-Smith, Rel. Life, 397.
  • 20. G. W. Knight, Nonconf. Churches in Enfield (Edmonton Hund. Hist. Soc. 1973), 4; and see below, plate facing p. 321.
  • 21. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 49265.
  • 22. Knight, op. cit. 4; see below.
  • 23. 200th Anniversary Booklet (1946).
  • 24. Knight, op. cit. 4.
  • 25. Ex inf. the sec.
  • 26. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 7716.
  • 27. Knight, op. cit. 4-5.
  • 28. Tuff, Enfield, 113-4.
  • 29. Knight, op. cit. 6.
  • 30. Builder, xxxiii. 1131. All three chapels are illus. in Knight, op. cit., plates facing p. 6.
  • 31. Whitaker, Enfield, 230.
  • 32. Knight, op. cit. 7.
  • 33. Ford, Enfield, 333; O.S. Map 6", Mdx. VIII. NE. (1868 edn.).
  • 34. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 35358.
  • 35. Totteridge Road Bapt. ch., Centenary Booklet (1968).
  • 36. Guildhall MS. 9580/7, f. 62.
  • 37. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 11694.
  • 38. Ford, Enfield, 334.
  • 39. Kelly's Dir. Enfield (1921).
  • 40. Knight, op. cit. 7.
  • 41. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 11695.
  • 42. Knight, op. cit. 7.
  • 43. 75th Anniversary Booklet (1960).
  • 44. Knight, op. cit. 7; ex inf. the minister.
  • 45. Ex inf. the minister.
  • 46. In the foll. accounts the letters (W) and (P) denote former Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chs.
  • 47. Guildhall MS. 9580/8, ff. 131, 207.
  • 48. Knight, op. cit. 10.
  • 49. See p. 254.
  • 50. Knight, op. cit. 10; ex inf. the chapel steward.
  • 51. H.O. 129/137/4/1/6.
  • 52. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 35715.
  • 53. Boro. of Enfield, Official Guide [1955].
  • 54. Ibid.
  • 55. Knight, op. cit. 10; G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 66318.
  • 56. Knight, op. cit. 10-11.
  • 57. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 34662.
  • 58. Ibid. 66348.
  • 59. Ex inf. the chapel steward, Enfield Meth. ch.
  • 60. Boro. of Enfield, Official Guide [1962].
  • 61. G.R.O., Worship Reg. nos. 41429, 14546.
  • 62. Ibid. 15944; ex inf. Mr. S. T. Hill.
  • 63. Ex inf. Mr. S. T. Hill.
  • 64. Knight, op. cit. 9.
  • 65. Ex inf. the minister.
  • 66. Knight, op. cit. 8.
  • 67. Centenary Booklet (1967).
  • 68. Baptist Handbk. (1972).
  • 69. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 54538; Knight, op. cit. 4.
  • 70. Centenary Booklet (1968); Knight, op. cit. 9; Baptist Handbk. (1972).
  • 71. G.R.O., Worship Reg. nos. 25014, 33353.
  • 72. Ibid. 36389.
  • 73. Enfield Bapt. Ch. Centenary Booklet (1967); Baptist Handbk. (1972).
  • 74. G.R.O., Worship Reg. nos. 28356, 28863.
  • 75. Ibid. 38830, 50271.
  • 76. Ibid. 66348; see above.
  • 77. G.R.O., Worship Reg. nos. 44517, 44659, 45214, 49265.
  • 78. Semi-jubilee Booklet (1927).
  • 79. Ex inf. the minister.
  • 80. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 16718.
  • 81. Ibid. 26684.
  • 82. Ibid. 45398.
  • 83. Date on building.
  • 84. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 22178.
  • 85. Ibid. 24815.
  • 86. Ibid. 26342.
  • 87. Dates on building; ex inf. the minister.
  • 88. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 35999.
  • 89. Kelly's Dir. Tottenham (1898-9).
  • 90. G.R.O., Worship Reg. nos. 38706, 67617.
  • 91. Ibid. 40032.
  • 92. Ibid. 44543.
  • 93. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1927).
  • 94. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 48132.
  • 95. Ibid. 50472.
  • 96. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1862).
  • 97. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 59315.
  • 98. Ex inf. Mr. D. S. Taylor.
  • 99. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 61734.
  • 100. Ibid. 62496.
  • 101. Ibid. 62499.
  • 102. Kelly's Dir. Tottenham (1898-9).
  • 103. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 63062.
  • 104. Ibid. 72179.
  • 105. Ford, Enfield, 334.
  • 106. G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 65075.
  • 107. Ibid. 71959.