Islington: Undenominational missions

Pages 115-117

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8, Islington and Stoke Newington Parishes. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.

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


In this section

Undenominational missions (fn. 26)

Nineteenth-century Islington attracted a great deal of missionary work, some connected with churches and chapels, but much, although evangelistic, attached to no particular denomination. Besides their religious importance, the missions played a significant role in social welfare.

London City mission (fn. 27)

Founded 1835 by David Nasmith, then member of Union chapel. Assoc. for Islington founded soon after, supporting missionary in Lower Rd. for area between Britannia Row and Greenman's Lane by 1840; of 900 people visited, only dozen showed sign of religion. Three more missionaries 1841, covering areas around City Rd. and Angel, Lower Holloway and Liverpool Rd.; eight by 1846. Working men in one dist. formed own assoc. to support separate missionary for White Conduit Fields. Missionaries, generally workingclass under superintendent, visited hos., formed ragged schs., and worked at request of local Anglican and nonconf. chs. Continued work in Islington in 1983, holding mission svces. and assisting vicars.

Mildmay (fn. 28)

One of most influential home and overseas missionary organizations in Eng., which led to founding of many other bodies. Founded at Barnet by Revd. Wm. Pennefather, who held first conference for interdenominational missionary work in 1856 and started Deaconess Institution 1860. Both transferred to Mildmay Pk. 1864, when Pennefather became vicar of St. Jude's, and were greatly expanded. Mildmay conference hall built 1869 on land south of Newington Green bought from Mildmay est., to replace iron room from Barnet: three-storeyed brick bldg., seating 2,500-3,000, with gallery on three sides and platform. Used for conferences, Evangelical svces., missionary and prayer mtgs.; Sun. sermons by different denoms.; 20 socs. met there on weekdays 1892. Rooms below hall for night sch., attended by up to 600 men, mtgs., annual teas, needlework classes, cookery for sick. Attendance at mission svce. 1903: 588 a.m.; 2,725 p.m. Hall closed after Second World War, but hosp. (below) remained.

Deaconess Institution, first of kind in English-speaking world, offered full-time careers for young women of good educ., with two years at Mildmay before going to outlying missions in Lond. and elsewhere. Careful theoretical and practical training copied by other institutions and influenced 19th-cent. soc. work and later soc. science courses in universities. About 200 deaconesses at any one time; distinctive uniform allowed them to work in roughest areas unmolested. Served 20 missions, 12 in Lond., started at invitation of vicars, 1892. H.Q. at Deaconess Ho. built 1871 next to conference hall. Nursing branch started 1866; served Mildmay cottage hosp., (fn. 29) nursing home for deaconesses, medical mission at Bethnal Green started from Mildmay 1874, and other hosps. and homes in Eng. and abroad. From 1885 nurses lived in nos. 9 and 10 Newington Green, possibly Alderman Halliday's old ho. (fn. 30) Training home opened at the Willows, near Clissold Pk., Stoke Newington, given by Mr. Alexander.

Other organizations started at Mildmay or receiving impetus from it were: Dorcas scheme for training in needlework, which had 400 women in 1892; Bible Flower mission, which distributed 2,000 bunches of flowers each week in summer to Lond. hosps. and workho. infirmaries, started under Caroline Hanbury (later Mrs. Albert Head) of Stoke Newington; orphanage opened 1872 at no. 3 Newington Green, which trained 30-40 girls as servants; Mildmay Lads' Institute, started 1867 to provide recreation for working boys; Metropolitan Free Dormitory Assoc., organized by Ld. Shaftesbury and Wm. Pennefather in 1857 to provide meals and accn. for respectable but homeless people in seven areas including Holloway. Working Girls' Institute (founded 1855) and body to link those engaged in soc. work for girls were brought together 1877 by Mrs. Pennefather as Y.W.C.A., which had central office at Mildmay until 1884. Railway Mission was formed 1881 following annual teas for N.L.R. employees from 1874 and bible classes in waiting rooms, organized by Caroline Hanbury, and also had H.Q. at Mildmay. Children's Special Svce. Mission originated in mission by American, Payson Hammond, 1867 at invitation of Wm. Pennefather; success led to Sun. evg. children's svces. at St. Jude's sch., after which svce. mission, interdenominational like most Mildmay institutions, was set up, spreading throughout Lond. and Eng. (fn. 31)

Albany Mission

Albany Pl., Hornsey Rd. Date founded unknown; by 1874 was Sun. sch. and branch mission attached to Holloway chapel. Chapel member L. J. Smith became superintendent, and when chapel gave up the mission, probably for financial reasons, took over mortgage. In 1891 became undenominational Christian ch. with monthly communion and Sun. sch. for up to 400 children from rough area. Attendance 1903: 77 a.m.; 56 p.m. Smith's fam. taught at sch. In 1924 two rooms built at back of hall. By 1950 c. 70 attended sch. (fn. 32) Closed by 1980.

Moody and Sankey mission (fn. 33)

D. L. Moody, preacher, and I. D. Sankey, singer, American evangelists invited to Eng. by Wm. Pennefather 1873, drew thousands to mtgs. and converted hundreds, continuing Evangelical revival of 1860s to which local mins., such as Davidson of Scotch ch., had contributed. (fn. 34) Royal Agricultural Hall, Upper Street, was Lond. venue 1875, where several prominent philanthropists and evangelists were inspired. Wilson Carlile, young layman who played organ at the Agricultural Hall, spoke at mtgs. held to take overflow from Hall, and went on to form Church Army 1875; it became part of C.E. 1885.

Paget memorial mission hall

Randells Rd., York Way. Built 1911 by Revd. Sholto Doug. Campbell-Douglas, Ld. Blythswood, in memory of w. Violet Mary Paget (d. 1908), who before marriage had held bible classes at the site 1887-9, while a Mildmay deaconess. Additions made 1915. Interior, unusually decorated with richly carved figures, contains breakfast set given to the couple by Queen Victoria. Svces. held 1983 under auspices of Lond. City Mission. (fn. 35)

St. Giles's christian mission

Westbourne Rd. Founded 1860 at Seven Dials, Westm., and pioneered prison gate mission work from 1877. Moved from Lt. Wild Street to former Arundel Sq. Cong. chapel at corner of Bride Street and Westbourne Rd. 1935. Chapel adapted and partly rebuilt. Religious and soc. activities for all ages. Despite rebldg. of area 1970s and decline in prison work, mission continued as soc. focus for Lower Holloway and Barnsbury. (fn. 36)


Mission halls and other premises reg. for worship by unsectarian groups in: Blackstock Rd., Highbury Vale, 1884, closed by 1896; (fn. 37) Finsbury Pk. mission to poor children, no. 33 Stroud Green Rd., 1910, closed by 1954; (fn. 38) Gifford Rd., Caledonian Rd., 1918, in former Cong. mission hall, closed by 1971; (fn. 39) Tollington Pk. People's mission hall, no. 91 Tollington Pk., 1935, closed by 1954; (fn. 40) Chorley Memorial hall, no. 9 King Henry's Walk, Ball's Pond, 1937, became NE. Lond. Gospel Mission in 1954, (fn. 41) in use 1983; Trent hall, no. 61 Hanley Rd., Stroud Green, 1938, closed by 1954; (fn. 42) N. Lond. Evangelical mission, no. 93 Tollington Way, Holloway, 1946; (fn. 43) Hazelville room, St. John's Way, Upper Holloway, 1954, closed by 1964; (fn. 44) St. Bernard Ch. of Divine Healing, no. 169 Upper Street, 1955, closed 1956; (fn. 45) Fishers of Men mission hall, no. 86 Caledonian Rd., 1956, closed by 1964; (fn. 46) Kingsdown Christian mission, nos. 209-11 Sussex Way, Upper Holloway, 1958, closed 1960 and moved to Hackney. (fn. 47)


  • 26. The same abbreviations are used as in the accounts of protestant nonconformist chs. above.
  • 27. Para. based on Lond. City Mission Mag. v (1840), 11-12, 103-4; xi (1846), 207-20; K. Heasman, Evangelicals in Action (1962), 35.
  • 28. Para. based on Heasman, op. cit. 37-40, 42, 109, 113-14; H. J. Cooke, Mildmay; Story of First Deaconess Institution (1892), passim; Svce. for King: Rec. of Mildmay missions and Assoc. of Women Workers (March 1899, copy in Islington libr.); G. Balleine, Hist. of Evangelical Party, 194; C. Hanbury, Life of Mrs. Albert Head [1905], 86, 113-15.
  • 29. Above, pub. svces. (hosps.).
  • 30. Above, other est. (Mildmay).
  • 31. Balleine, Hist. Evangelical Party, 196-7.
  • 32. E. H. Smith, Fifty Years and More at Albany [1950].
  • 33. Para. based on Balleine, Hist. Evangelical Party, 198-200.
  • 34. Above, prot. nonconf., Presbs.
  • 35. P. Zwart, Islington: Hist. and Guide, 135; Souvenir of Cent. of St. And. 22; Burke, Peerage (1931); G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 52547; datestones.
  • 36. St. Giles' Christian Mission, Ann. Rep. (1960, 1970-2).
  • 37. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 27846.
  • 38. Ibid. no. 44306.
  • 39. Ibid. no. 47254.
  • 40. Ibid. no. 55992.
  • 41. Ibid. no. 57548.
  • 42. Ibid. no. 58168.
  • 43. Ibid. no. 61508.
  • 44. Ibid. no. 64482.
  • 45. Ibid. no. 65034.
  • 46. Ibid. no. 65627.
  • 47. Ibid. no. 66662.