Friern Barnet: Protestant nonconformity

Pages 32-33

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6, Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey With Highgate. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

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There were apparently no dissenters in the 17th century and only short-lived congregations before the establishment in 1883-4 of the first surviving nonconformist church. (fn. 1) Methodists had a small chapel in Colney Hatch Lane from 1836, (fn. 2) with attendances of 25 in the morning and 38 in the evening on census Sunday 1851. (fn. 3) They later worshipped at a boarding school at no. 1 Torrington Park from 1852 to 1866, (fn. 4) and in Friern Barnet Lane until c. 1889. (fn. 5)

By 1903 an average of 813 nonconformists worshipped each Sunday, compared with 1,475 Anglicans. There were 567 Congregationalists, 37 Brethren, and 209 who attended the Railway Mission, (fn. 6) which was the most successful of the missions, many of which were ignored in the survey. Methodist churches were established in 1904 and c. 1930. There were seven nonconformist places of worship in 1911 (fn. 7) and two Congregationalist, two Methodist, a Baptist, and two Brethren's places of worship in 1975. The more successful establishments were made north of Friern Barnet Road. Small mission halls of more radical denominations proliferated in the poorer Avenue and Freehold districts but most were not purpose-built and had closed by 1975.

Christ Church United Reformed church stands at the corner of Friern Barnet and Bellevue roads. The original Congregationalist lecture hall of 1883-4 (fn. 8) is a red-brick building with stone dressings in an Early English style. It contained committee rooms, a common room, and a hall for 300, (fn. 9) which was used for services and had an average Sunday congregation of 225 in 1903. (fn. 10) A permanent church was built in front in 1910 to the design of George Baines & Co. (fn. 11) on a north-south axis. Also of red brick with stone dressings, it is square with an east transept and a low south-west tower and spire. It has a capacity of 600. (fn. 12) The first minister, Benjamin Waugh, 1883-7, was founder of the N.S.P.C.C. (fn. 13)

Oakleigh Park United Reformed church originated in 1887, when the Congregational school and chapel at Totteridge were too small and a site was chosen midway between Totteridge and Oakleigh Park stations, in the angle of Oakleigh Road North and Oakleigh Park North. The building was to be of two storeys, with a chapel or school hall on the first floor and a vestry and smaller rooms below. Built in 1888 of yellow brick with stone dressings (fn. 14) in the simplest early Gothic style, it was used as a hall in 1975. The permanent church was erected in 1900 in an idiosyncratic Gothic style by E. F. Knight. (fn. 15) It is of red brick and consists of a rectangular nave, polygonal east end, and two low western turrets. It seats 350. (fn. 16) In 1903 an average of 190 attended the morning and 152 the evening services on Sundays. (fn. 17)

Pembroke Road Methodist church, in the Freehold, was founded in 1904 by the main Muswell Hill Methodist church as a Wesleyan mission hall. (fn. 18) In 1922 it moved to the Freehold mission hall in Sydney Road, (fn. 19) which was replaced in 1954 by a new church in Pembroke Road. (fn. 20) In 1975 a small red-brick church seated 150 and shared a minister with Manor Drive Methodist church. (fn. 21)

Manor Drive Methodist church, planned in 1930 for Torrington Park (fn. 22) and temporarily established on the corner with Friern Barnet Lane by 1935, (fn. 23) opened on the corner of Manor Drive and York Way in 1938. (fn. 24) An imposing red-brick building in a modern style, it consists of a nave with shallow aisles, transepts, a low lantern tower, a polygonal chancel with adjoining vestries, and a narthex connecting the nave to the single-storeyed hall added in 1956. (fn. 25) It has seating for c. 300. (fn. 26)

Baptists from 1865 probably attended New Southgate Baptist church, sometimes described as in Colney Hatch. (fn. 27) Before 1887 it founded a mission hall at Pembroke Road, (fn. 28) known as the Pembroke Baptist mission room in 1902 (fn. 29) and renamed the United mission hall c. 1922 when joined by seceders from the Freehold mission in Sydney Road. Although still governed by a trust deed held by the mother church, the congregation managed its own affairs in 1975. The original timber-framed and corrugated iron hut was then used for Sunday school and other activities but wooden huts of c. 1918 at the rear had been replaced c. 1968 by a brick building, containing a church for 75-100. (fn. 30)

In 1905 the Ebenezer Baptist chapel was registered in a house at no. 15 Beaconsfield Road, New Southgate, by Old Baptists. (fn. 31) It was described as the Old Baptist Union training house in 1906 (fn. 32) and was disused by 1954. (fn. 33)

Christian Brethren from Highgate began to worship in Athenaeum Road, Whetstone, c. 1884. They met in a converted house with a capacity of c. 25, (fn. 34) probably the Christians' meeting-room recorded between 1889 and 1925, (fn. 35) until in 1926 they moved to a new brick hall in Oakleigh Road North, which seated 100. Oakleigh hall was enlarged in 1954, renamed Oakleigh chapel shortly afterwards, (fn. 36) and still used in 1975.

Christian Brethren from St. James's Lane, Muswell Hill, (fn. 37) acquired a small site on the corner of Wilton and Coppetts roads c. 1949. Wilton chapel, a low red-brick hall, was opened in 1952 and completed a few years later. (fn. 38)

The New Southgate branch of the Railway Mission was established c. 1883. (fn. 39) Between 1891 (fn. 40) and 1899 it acquired a site north of Friern Barnet Road beside the railway, (fn. 41) where a tin chapel was erected. In 1903 there was an average attendance of 90 at morning service and 209 at evening service every Sunday. (fn. 42) The mission hall was still open in 1939 (fn. 43) but later was used by the G.P.O. (fn. 44) and in 1975 as a builder's store.

The Bethel Full Gospel church in Cromwell Road, Muswell Hill, which was registered by the Assemblies of God in 1939, was disused by 1954. (fn. 45) It may have replaced the Bethel mission hall which was at Carlisle Place, New Southgate, between 1889 and 1939. (fn. 46)

The Freehold mission hall in Sydney Road, Muswell Hill, was built by 1901 (fn. 47) for a congregation that had met in a shop. Described as interdenominational, it had close links with the Pembroke Baptist mission hall, to which some members seceded in 1922. (fn. 48) The brick chapel survives as the depot of the Hobart Manufacturing Co.

A meeting-room in Athenaeum road between 1889 and 1897 had disappeared by 1900 (fn. 49) and a Gospel hall there in 1925 was disused by 1930. (fn. 50)


  • 1. See below.
  • 2. Guildhall MS. 9580/7, p. 222; G.R.O. Worship Returns, iii, no. 1905.
  • 3. H.O. 129/136/3/2/5; H.O. 107/1701/136/3/2a f. 357.
  • 4. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 401.
  • 5. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1889); O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. VI. SE. (1867-73, 1897 edns.).
  • 6. Mudie-Smith, Rel. Life, 411.
  • 7. Census, 1911.
  • 8. Ex inf. Mr. F. Nind; Barnet Press, 26 Aug. 1883.
  • 9. Ex inf. Mr. F. Nind.
  • 10. Mudie-Smith, Rel. Life, 411.
  • 11. Ex inf. Mr. F. Nind.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. D.N.B.
  • 14. Barnet Press, 22 Nov. 1887.
  • 15. Pevsner, Mdx. 172.
  • 16. Cong. Yr. Bk. (1951), 213.
  • 17. Mudie-Smith, Rel. Life, 411.
  • 18. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 40565.
  • 19. Ibid. 48669.
  • 20. Ibid. 64280.
  • 21. Ex inf. the minister.
  • 22. B.L.H.L., Friern Barnet U.D., min. bk. (1930-1), p. 3.
  • 23. Ex inf. the minister.
  • 24. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 57843.
  • 25. Ex inf. the minister; Muswell Hill Rec. 23 Sept. 1955.
  • 26. Ex inf. the minister.
  • 27. Thorne, Environs, 115; V.C.H. Mdx. v. 193.
  • 28. New Southgate Bapt. Ch. 1865-1965 (centenary booklet); B.L.H.L., Friern Barnet loc. bd., min. bk. (1886-9).
  • 29. Kelly's Dir. N. Suburbs (1902).
  • 30. Ex inf. Mr. L. G. Dixon.
  • 31. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 41210.
  • 32. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1906).
  • 33. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 41210.
  • 34. Ex inf. Mr. H. Andrews. Brethren worshipped at a sch. in 'Oakleigh Rd.' in 1885: G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 27839.
  • 35. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1889); Finchley (1925).
  • 36. Ex inf. Mr. H. Andrews.
  • 37. See p. 187.
  • 38. Ex inf. Mr. J. E. Small.
  • 39. Barnet Press, 20 July 1895.
  • 40. Ibid. 28 Nov. 1891.
  • 41. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1899).
  • 42. Mudie-Smith, Rel. Life, 411.
  • 43. Kelly's Dir. Finchley (1939).
  • 44. Ex inf. the vicar of St. Paul's, New Southgate.
  • 45. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 58878.
  • 46. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1889); Finchley (1939).
  • 47. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1901).
  • 48. Ex inf. Mr. L. G. Dixon.
  • 49. Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1889 and later edns.).
  • 50. Kelly's Dir. Finchley (1925, 1930).