South Mimms: Protestant nonconformity

Pages 302-304

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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William Tuttey, vicar of South Mimms in 1642, was ejected (fn. 1) from Totteridge in 1661, but continued active in the area and was preaching at Chipping Barnet c. 1669. (fn. 2) Timothy Batt, who had been vicar c. 1644-5 (fn. 3) and who was ejected from Creech (Som.) at the Restoration, revisited South Mimms in 1685 where he was received with great affection. (fn. 4) His successor, George Pierce, a royalist sympathizer, was unacceptable to the 'well-affected' members of his parish in 1649. (fn. 5)

By 1676 there were twenty nonconformists (fn. 6) and by c. 1700 there were meeting-houses for both Anabaptists and Quakers. (fn. 7) The Anabaptists seem to have been active until 1739, (fn. 8) after which there is no further reference to their church. Quakers at South Mimms had been visited in 1677 by George Fox, (fn. 9) who returned in 1678 to attend a meeting in the house of Samuel Hodges. (fn. 10) In 1682 Hodges refused to pay a fine for allowing a 'seditious conventicle' to be held in his house. The parish constable, Richard Mason, was ordered to distrain him, but he declined to execute the warrant and was himself tried. (fn. 11) In 1686 Hodges sold land known as Chantry mead to William Wyld, of High Barnet, for the use of Friends. A meeting-house was built on part of the land in 1697 and the remainder of the property was used as a burial ground. Membership increased c. 1707 as a group of Quakers who had formerly met at John Hickman's house at Kitts End joined the South Mimms meeting. More land was purchased in 1737 to enlarge the burial ground. (fn. 12) After the death in 1768 of Ezekiel Lofty, who had been the leading Quaker in the parish, (fn. 13) the meeting declined. By 1771 worshippers met only three times a year, in 1773 half-yearly, and in 1787 the meeting was discontinued. The land was sold for £120 in 1818. (fn. 14) Quakers were still meeting for worship, however, in 1842 in a house adjoining Chantry mead and next to the site of the National school. (fn. 15)

By the end of the 18th-century other nonconformist bodies were active in the parish, mostly at Potters Bar and Barnet Side, both areas being some three miles from the parish church. Many parishioners probably drifted into nonconformity rather than attend church in Monken Hadley or Chipping Barnet. (fn. 16)

A small group of Baptists began to worship in a barn at Potters Bar in 1788. (fn. 17) In 1789 they built a permanent church, (fn. 18) where the first sermon was given by the celebrated preacher Rowland Hill, (fn. 19) of the Surrey Chapel in London. The church joined the Hertfordshire Association of Baptist Churches in 1804. A new church was built in 1869, when the membership was about 50, (fn. 20) and was registered for worship on behalf of the Particular Baptists. (fn. 21) The building, in the Romanesque style, was extended in 1884, the Spurgeon hall and Primary room being added. (fn. 22) It was re-named Ware hall in 1964 when the present church was built in Barnet Road. (fn. 23) An unlocated place of worship was registered by Baptists in Union Street in 1878, but the registration was cancelled in 1895. (fn. 24) Another group of Baptists acquired a room for worship in South Mimms in 1894. (fn. 25) Five years later, supported by several parishioners who resented ritualism at St. Giles, they planned to erect a Protestant Free church on the village green. Objections were made however, to the proposed siting of the chapel and it was never built. (fn. 26)

By 1760 Wesleyans were worshipping in a cottage (fn. 27) which, although often said to be in South Mimms, (fn. 28) stood on the Monken Hadley side of the boundary in High Street. (fn. 29) In 1891 the congregation moved from the chapel, which had replaced the cottage, to a new chapel (fn. 30) that stood a few yards to the south within South Mimms parish. The new chapel was opened in 1892 and registered for worship, (fn. 31) the old chapel being sold to the Baptists. In 1937 the Wyburn hall was opened as an extension to the main Wesley hall. The church, damaged in the Second World War, (fn. 32) is built of stone in the Decorated style, with turrets at the western end.

In the late 18th-century Methodists were meeting in a barn at Darkes Farm. (fn. 33) There is no further record of their activity in Potters Bar until the 1880s. A chapel was built in Hatfield Road in 1883, and a new hall was erected and opened in 1933. Methodists worshipped there until the present red-brick chapel was built in Baker Street in 1941. A new hall was erected alongside the chapel in 1955. The chapel itself was altered and enlarged in 1959 and was renamed St. John's Methodist church. In 1972 it ran a mission Sunday school on a housing estate. (fn. 34)

In 1810 the house of William Franklin was certified for worship, but no denomination was given. (fn. 35) In 1826 the house of William Earnfield was licensed for a group of dissenters, led by their minister, Richard Cooper. (fn. 36) A house belonging to William Stephens was registered for Independents in 1838. (fn. 37) In 1851 a minister resident at Mill Hill served a church in South Mimms which was said to have been built in 1813. (fn. 38)

Captain John Trotter, inspired by the evangelical assistant curate of Christ Church, William Pennefather, started to hold evening services c. 1845 in a building in Blanche Lane which later became a post office. In 1849 the London City Mission appointed a missioner, who was to include Ridge and Shenley in his district. A mission hall was built next to the old site in 1915, (fn. 39) and it was still used for worship in 1932. (fn. 40) Later the Conservative Association met there but in the early 1950s it was acquired by the London Baptist Property Board and used for Sunday services and a Sunday school until 1969, after which only the Sunday school continued to meet. (fn. 41)

The Salvation Army met in the town hall, Union Street, in 1883 (fn. 42) and in temporary premises in Salisbury Road, (fn. 43) until a permanent citadel was opened in Salisbury Road in 1891. (fn. 44) The building was registered for worship in 1892 (fn. 45) and a hall was acquired for young people in 1918. (fn. 46) Salvation Army barracks were opened in Station Road, Potters Bar, in 1897, but the corps had collapsed by 1903. (fn. 47)

An 'iron room' in Alston Road was registered for undenominational worship from 1893 until 1913. (fn. 48) The room was used by the Church of Christ in 1920 (fn. 49) and by the Assemblies of God from 1955. (fn. 50)

From 1884 Plymouth Brethren met in a room in Salisbury Road, (fn. 51) until they registered the Salisbury chapel for worship in 1894. (fn. 52) A second group began to hold meetings in the house of Robert Simmonds, no. 15 Union Street, in 1930. (fn. 53)

The Barnet Brotherhood and Sisterhood (P.S.A.) started to meet c. 1914 in a brick building in Union Street, the front of which had been opened c. 1888 as the Barnet reading room. From 1918 to 1968 the premises were occupied by the Ministry of Labour and the P.S.A. was admitted only on Sundays. In 1972 the P.S.A. had full use of all the rooms, except the upstairs hall which was occupied by a Christian Mobile Group. (fn. 54)

Plans (fn. 55) were made to build a Congregational church in Potters Bar by Miss E. H. Alder, supported by the Misses F. C. Carpenter and R. M. Scott, in 1926. Land in Darkes Lane was bought in 1931 and a brick church opened there three years later. A Sunday school was started in 1935. Plans for a larger church in Mutton Lane, on a site given by Mr. H. W. Tilbury in 1938, were abandoned after the outbreak of war. An additional hall was erected in 1953. The land in Mutton Lane was sold in 1963 and the proceeds used to build a new church in Darkes Lane, next to the original one. It was finished in 1966. (fn. 56)

Services were held by the Y.W.C.A. at no. 1A Union Street between 1892 and 1919 (fn. 57) in the building formerly used as Barnet free school. (fn. 58) The building was afterwards used as a furniture store (fn. 59) but from 1941 Christian Spiritualists have held services there. (fn. 60) Another group were meeting at Potters Bar Spiritualist church, Hill Rise, in 1972. (fn. 61)

In 1938 the Cranborne Gospel mission was founded by the local Free Church Council to provide a Sunday school for the housing estates in western Potters Bar. Meetings were first held in Cranborne school and afterwards at Elm Court, Mutton Lane. In 1968 the church became affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, and changed its name to Potters Bar Evangelical Free church. Although meetings were still held in Elm Court in 1972, the church was negotiating the lease of a plot of land from Potters Bar U.D.C. and hoped to have its own building. (fn. 62)

The Potters Bar congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses started in 1957 with a group of voluntary ministers from Barnet. Meetings were held successively at Elm Court, Oakmere House, Potters Bar hotel, and the village hall in Cotton Road until 1970, when it was decided to share a Kingdom hall with the Barnet congregation. (fn. 63)

The modern group of Quakers began to meet in Potters Bar in 1957. They have no permanent meeting-house but have used the Red Cross Headquarters in Mutton Lane and in 1972 were worshipping in the committee room of the church of King Charles the Martyr. (fn. 64)

The Christian meeting-place, 7 Exchange Buildings, St. Albans Road, was registered for undenominational worship in 1964, (fn. 65) but was no longer being used for that purpose in 1972. Other meetingplaces of unknown denomination are the Assembly hall in Union Street, and the meeting room at 17 Union Street, which was registered in 1964. (fn. 66)


  • 1. See p. 299.
  • 2. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 499.
  • 3. See p 299.
  • 4. Calamy Revised, 37.
  • 5. Walker Revised, ed. Matthews, 121.
  • 6. William Salt Libr., Stafford, Salt MS. 33, p. 40.
  • 7. M.R.O., MR/RO 5, m. 27 (1690-98).
  • 8. W. T. Whitley, Baptists of Lond. (1928), 122.
  • 9. Short Jnl. and Itinerary Jnls. of Geo. Fox, ed. N. Penney, 232.
  • 10. Ibid. 269-70.
  • 11. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. iv. 183.
  • 12. W. Beck and T. F. Ball, Lond. Friends' Meetings, 298.
  • 13. Brittain, South Mymms, 83.
  • 14. Beck and Ball, Lond. Friends' Meetings, 298.
  • 15. M.R.O., TA/S. Mimms.
  • 16. Home Cnties. Mag. i. 317.
  • 17. Brittain, op. cit. 84.
  • 18. Ex inf. the sec., Potters Bar Baptist ch.
  • 19. Brittain, South Mymms, 84.
  • 20. Ex inf. the sec.
  • 21. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 21923.
  • 22. Ex inf. the sec.
  • 23. Baptist Handbk. (1972), 163.
  • 24. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 23918.
  • 25. Barnet Press, 13 Oct. 1894.
  • 26. Hatfield C.F.E.P. (S. Mimms) 3/123.
  • 27. High Barnet Methodist Ch. 1770-1970 [bicentenary booklet], 8.
  • 28. Ret. of churches, chapels . . ., H.C. 401 (1832), l; Baptist Handbk. (1972), 155.
  • 29. See p. 269.
  • 30. High Barnet Meth. Ch. 9.
  • 31. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 33236.
  • 32. High Barnet Meth. Ch. 9, 12.
  • 33. Brittain, op. cit. 96.
  • 34. Ex inf. the minister.
  • 35. Guildhall MS. 9580/3.
  • 36. Ibid. 9580/6.
  • 37. Ibid. 9580/7.
  • 38. H.O. 129/136/1/4/9.
  • 39. Brittain, South Mymms, 101.
  • 40. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1932).
  • 41. Ex inf. the sec., High Barnet Baptist ch.
  • 42. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 27548.
  • 43. Ibid. 30463.
  • 44. Plaque on building.
  • 45. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 33089.
  • 46. Ibid. 47189.
  • 47. Ibid. 36154.
  • 48. Ibid. 33956.
  • 49. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1920-21).
  • 50. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 64845.
  • 51. Ibid. 27813.
  • 52. Ibid. 34558; Free Church Dir. (1968/9).
  • 53. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1930).
  • 54. Ex inf. the Revd. Mark Reeves.
  • 55. The para. is based on Potters Bar Congreg. Church, 1934-66.
  • 56. Congreg. Yr. Bk. (1971-2).
  • 57. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1892-3, 1919-20).
  • 58. See p. 305.
  • 59. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1919-20).
  • 60. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 59718.
  • 61. Potters Bar, Official Guide [1972].
  • 62. Ex inf. Mr. W. Rutherford.
  • 63. The para. is based on inf. supplied by the presiding overseer.
  • 64. Ex inf. Mrs. M. Brazier.
  • 65. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 69557.
  • 66. Ibid. 69770.