A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 4, the City of Oxford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1979.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In this section
- PROTESTANT NONCONFORMITY AND OTHER CHRISTIAN BODIES
PROTESTANT NONCONFORMITY AND OTHER CHRISTIAN BODIES (fn. 1)
Society of Friends, p. 415. Presbyterians and Independents, p. 416. Baptists, p. 417. Wesleyan Methodists, p. 419. Primitive Methodists, p. 421. Wesleyan Reformers, p. 421. Congregationalists, p. 421. Brethren, p. 422. Salvation Army, p. 423. Scottish and English Presbyterians, p. 423. Unitarians, p. 423. Others, p. 423.
SOCIETY OF FRIENDS.
Quakers began to meet regularly in 1654 at the house of Richard Bettrice, a surgeon, in New Inn Hall Street. They were visited by many prominent missionaries, and among the early converts was Thomas Loe, later associated with the conversion of William Penn. (fn. 2) In 1656 George Fox came to Oxford and, despite the rudeness of undergraduates, held 'great meetings'. (fn. 3) Most of the early Quakers were small tradesmen and artisans. (fn. 4) Their practice of interrupting services in the city's churches brought them into collision with the authorities, and some were whipped out of town, others imprisoned. (fn. 5) Leniency was shown, however, by the vice-chancellor John Owen, an Independent, who paid one Quaker's gaol fees, and by Thomas Williams, a Baptist mayor, who refused to confirm sentences of whipping on some missionaries and allowed a meeting at his house, at which his son was converted. (fn. 6) Williams also intervened to prevent undergraduates ducking three quakers, among them the missionary Elizabeth Fletcher who had walked the streets naked as a sign that God would strip those in power. (fn. 7) Quaker meetings were disrupted by undergraduates, who broke down the doors, brought in 'their dogs and their drink', insulted the women, sang bawdy songs, and set off fireworks. (fn. 8)
Official persecution increased after the Restoration. In 1662-3 at least fifteen were imprisoned, some more than once, for unlawful assembly, absence from church, or refusing the oath of allegiance. (fn. 9) Meetings continued, chiefly at Bettrice's house, and he was fined heavily c. 1670. (fn. 10) In 1679 there was difficulty over the use of the house and in 1687 the Quakers bought land for a meeting-house and burial ground behind Silas Norton's house nos. 63-4 St. Giles Street. (fn. 11) When William Penn visited Oxford in 1687 he addressed a meeting in Norton's garden, and the meeting-house, later entered from Pusey Lane, was completed in 1688, with financial help from other Oxfordshire Friends. (fn. 12)
A visitor in 1715 found the undergraduates comparatively quiet at the weekly meeting, which was attended by people 'of some fashion'; but he also witnessed the ransacking of the meeting-house by a mob during the Jacobite riots. (fn. 13) Although over £55 of damage was reported after the riot no compensation claim was made, presumably to avoid the giving of sworn evidence. (fn. 14) In the 18th century the centre of Quaker activity in the neighbourhood was at Witney, (fn. 15) and by 1735 there were only four or five Friends in Oxford. (fn. 16) Weekly meetings appear to have ceased altogether after the death in 1745 of Thomas Nichols, one of the most active Friends in the county. (fn. 17) The Quarterly Meeting used the Oxford meeting-house occasionally for convenience, and paid for its upkeep until it was sold in 1867. (fn. 18) There continued to be a few Friends in the city but an average attendance at the meeting-house of c. 100 reported in 1851 evidently referred to the Quarterly Meeting. (fn. 19)
The Oxford meeting was revived in 1888, largely by C. E. Gillett, and the former Scottish Prebyterian church in Nelson Street was bought as a meetinghouse. In the later 19th century the meeting, influenced by the Evangelical Movement, was unusually 'advanced', with provision for hymn-singing and emphasis on conversion to Christianity rather than to the Society of Friends; (fn. 20) but in the 20th century the meeting reverted to a more specifically Quaker form of witness. (fn. 21) Membership increased from 68 in 1919 to 173 in 1946, and 268 in 1972. (fn. 22) In 1906 the meeting moved from the Nelson Street chapel, which was sold in 1921, to no. 40 Canal Street, and from 1907 the Friends occupied rented accommodation at no. 21 George Street (until 1919) (fn. 23) and no. 115 High Street (until 1946). They then moved to no. 43 St. Giles Street, purchased in 1939, and in 1955 built a new meeting-house behind that house. (fn. 24)
PRESBYTERIANS AND INDEPENDENTS.
After the Restoration many influential citizens, including magistrates and councillors, had Presbyterian sympathies. (fn. 25) Presbyterians mostly avoided persecution but in 1669 a conventicle at Dr. Rogers's house was violently broken up and the vice-chancellor, Peter Mews, sent John Troughton, 'the teacher', and thirteen others to Bocardo and bound them over to the assizes; eight of them protested their unwillingness 'to contend with the king' and escaped with small fines. (fn. 26)
The Presbyterian and Independent preachers in the immediate post-Restoration period were men who had been ejected from the university, such as Henry Cornish, John Troughton, Christopher Rogers, and Thomas Gilbert. (fn. 27) After the passing of the Five Mile Act (1665) Cornish and Troughton were obliged to leave Oxford. (fn. 28) Gilbert and Rogers were Independents and it appears that Presbyterians and Independents in Oxford often worshipped together in a number of temporary meeting-houses; among them were Dr. Rogers's house (1669), (fn. 29) 'Tom Pun's house' in George Street (1672), (fn. 30) and Sir John Thompson's house in the parish of St. Peter-in-the-East (1684). (fn. 31) After the Declaration of Indulgence (1672) applications for meeting-house licences included one, for Anthony Hall's house in St. Ebbe's, for Presbyterians, and two for Congregationalists; applications for preaching licences included one for Robert Pauling, later mayor of Oxford. (fn. 32) It was rumoured, probably groundlessly, that Thomas Gilbert intended to apply for the use of the church of St. Peter-le-Bailey 'to exercise in'. (fn. 33) Persecution was temporarily halted but the vicechancellor was obliged to take steps to curb undergraduates' unruly behaviour at meetings. (fn. 34)
After the Act of Toleration (1689) the Presbyterians' main meeting-house was in a former dancing school outside the North Gate, where Henry Cornish was their teacher. (fn. 35) Two years later they were using Anthony Hall's house in St. Ebbe's (fn. 36) where they remained until 1715. Joshua Oldfield, minister 1691-4, apparently made little attempt to extend his congregation by contacts with the university, although a few university men came to the relatively poorlyattended meetings. (fn. 37) The congregation in 1715, which presumably included occasional conformists, was reported to number 150, only one a 'gentleman' and the others 'tradesmen'; 11 were freemen and 4 were qualified to vote in county elections. (fn. 38) Oldfield's successor William Roby preached a sermon welcoming the accession of George I and on 25 May 1715, the king's birthday, and on the following day, the anniversary of the Restoration, a Tory mob wrecked the Presbyterian meeting-house and burnt the pastor in effigy; he was obliged to have guards at his house and for a time fled to London. (fn. 39) Later in the year the justices granted licences for meetings in two private houses. (fn. 40) The damage to the former chapel was assessed at over £100. (fn. 41) Anthony Hall's son refused to renew the lease (fn. 42) and the Presbyterians bought the site of what later became New Road Baptist chapel. It was put into the hands of trustees, all Londoners, who were left entirely free on doctrinal matters. (fn. 43) The new meeting-house, seating 250 people, was registered in 1721. (fn. 44)
The congregation declined rapidly after Roby's death in 1734. There was no settled pastor, and although in 1743 the Presbyterians met monthly and celebrated the Lord's Supper three times in that year, they met only in private houses during the next 20 years. In 1764 a few services were again held in the chapel (fn. 45) and in 1773 a congregation of Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists was in the charge of an eccentric minister, W. A. Clarke, who had been ordained by a Greek bishop c. 1760 and had been baptized 'most ridiculously . . . in his canonical robes'. (fn. 46) Between 1778 and 1780 the Baptist Church at Abingdon paid for a preacher in Oxford and in November 1780 the minister at Abingdon, with five other ministers, conducted a public service after 13 Baptists and Presbyterians, the latter styled Paedobaptists, had entered into a solemn covenant to establish a joint church on the principle of open communion. (fn. 47) William Plater, 'the last member of the Old Presbyterian Sect that lived in Oxford', whose family had been prominent in the church since at least 1689, died in 1800. (fn. 48)
Congregationalists and Scottish and English Pres byterians were re-established in the city in the 19th century. (fn. 49)
A Baptist group was probably established in Oxford shortly after the surrender of the royalist garrison in 1646: Roger Hatchman, Matthew Jellyman, and Thomas Williams, restored to the city council in that year, were later described as Anabaptists. (fn. 50) Williams, a High Street milliner, was mayor in 1653; (fn. 51) he was ridiculed in a poem of 1654, Zeal Overheated, inspired by a fire in his shop. (fn. 52) Probably many of those fleeing Oxford during the Civil War learnt their radical views in the parliamentarian garrison at Abingdon; (fn. 53) the early Oxford Baptists were closely associated with the strong group in Abingdon, for Thomas Tisdale, Abingdon's representative at meetings of the Abingdon Association messengers in 1653, represented Oxford after it had been received into the association in 1656. (fn. 54)
Probably associated with the early Anabaptists was a group of Fifth Monarchy men, of whom Richard Quelch, watchmaker, was agent for Oxford in 1657. (fn. 55) Vavasour Powell, a prominent Fifth Monarchy man, preached in All Saints church in that year, inveighing against the university, (fn. 56) and 'a brother from Oxford' was involved in Venner's rising of 1657. (fn. 57) Fears in 1658 that Oxford Anabaptists intended to destroy the colleges were presumably related to the activities of the millenarian group. (fn. 58) With Hatchman's encouragement, John Belcher, another Fifth Monarchy man, preached against the Restoration in January 1660 in St. Peter-le-Bailey church. (fn. 59)
The leaders of the Anabaptists after 1660 were Lawrence King, a glover, who held public baptisms before a scoffing crowd at Hythe Bridge, (fn. 60) and Richard Tidmarsh, a tanner, who had refused to serve on the city council in the 1650s. (fn. 61) King's house was sometimes used for meetings but the main meeting-house was at Tidmarsh's house in Titmouse Lane which continued to be used until at least 1715. (fn. 62) According to a late-18th-century tradition Tidmarsh used to haptize in the mill-stream near by. (fn. 63)
Unlike the Presbyterians and Independents the Baptists had no ex-university preachers and their radical views were much more unpopular with the authorities. In 1661, after the general proclamation against Anabaptist and Quaker conventicles which followed the Fifth Monarchy rising in London, the meetinghouse in Oxford was 'beset by the militia', and some of the congregation were arrested. (fn. 64) Later that year Hatchman and King were gaoled for seditious speeches at Tidmarsh's house; they and Tidmarsh refused the oath of allegiance. (fn. 65) In 1664 the local justices ordered the breaking up of unlawful conventicles of Anabaptists and Quakers, (fn. 66) and members of those sects were usually fined more heavily than Presbyterians. The ecclesiastical courts were sometimes more lenient, as in 1665, when an excommunicated Anabaptist was allowed time 'to inform himself of those things which he at present scruples at'. (fn. 67) In 1669 the vice-chancellor, Peter Mews, punished some of those found at a meeting at King's house by taking them to a sermon at the university church. (fn. 68)
After the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 Tidmarsh and King took out a licence for Tidmarsh's house, where Tidmarsh preached, assisted by a 'miller of Abingdon'. (fn. 69) After the withdrawal of the Declaration in 1675 there were a few more prosecutions, (fn. 70) and in 1681 the sexton of All Saints was presented in the archdeacon's court for allowing King's wife, an excommunicate, to be buried 'without any divine service'. (fn. 71) At the time of the Rye House Plot in 1683 King's house was searched for arms. (fn. 72) In the political changes in Oxford of 1688 Tidmarsh was briefly prominent, (fn. 73) but he left Oxford in 1690 to pursue evangelical work elsewhere. (fn. 74)
In the riots of 1715 the mob not only attacked the Baptists' meeting-room but rifled the whole house. (fn. 75) Thereafter there is no record of Baptists meeting there, and by c. 1740 they were holding only a week-day lecture in a private house. (fn. 76) The remaining members attended either the Abingdon Baptist chapel or the Presbyterian meeting-house in Oxford. In 1780, with the active support of Abingdon, the few remaining Oxford Baptists and Presbyterians formally joined company at the New Road chapel. (fn. 77)
The new community did not at first flourish. (fn. 78) One of its first pastors left after adopting 'heterodox views' and until the appointment of James Hinton in 1787 the pulpit was so ill supplied that all who could do so continued to go to Abingdon. The principle of open communion caused occasional trouble in the congregation until the later 19th century: Hinton, for example, had to deal with dissension between Baptists and Paedobaptists in his flock in the 1790s, and in the period 1795-7 there was an abortive attempt to establish a separate Strict Baptist chapel. As Hinton himself believed in adult baptism there was a slight rise in the number of Baptist members, but under his guidance the congregation remained 'soundly Calvinistic' and middle of the road.
His arrival had an immediate impact on church attendance. In the late 1780s the crowded evening services attracted undergraduates, who behaved so riotously that the university forbade them to attend. Membership increased from c. 25 in 1787 to c. 270 in 1821, and the number of 'hearers' rose from 130 to 800 in the same period. (fn. 79) The meeting-house was twice enlarged during Hinton's pastorate, and an extra two deacons were appointed in the early 1800s. (fn. 80)
Hinton's most successful years were 1795-1805. From 1811, when his health began to fail, a succession of assistants was appointed, of whom one, Jenkyn Thomas, was particularly popular. Hinton's success depended not only on his preaching ability but on his character, which won the respect even of such pugnacious opponents of nonconformity as Dr. Tatham, rector of Lincoln College. His moderation and tact enabled the united chapel at New Road to gain a respected position in the city.
After his death in 1823 his successors were unable to hold together the heterogeneous elements in the open communion, and by 1836 membership had fallen to 150. (fn. 81) In the 1830s some 28 members were lost to a new Congregational church in George Street and fewer than a dozen to the Adullam chapel. In 1853, after prolonged disagreements between the deacons and the minister, who was accused publicly of mismanaging his finances and leaning towards Anglicanism, there was a further secession to the Congregationalists of 23 members, including all the deacons. (fn. 82) Most returned after the minister's resignation the same year. Congregations, which averaged 400 both morning and evening in 1851, (fn. 83) do not seem to have been badly affected by the earlier disagreements, but membership fell between 1853 and 1855 from 288 to 196. (fn. 84) Public dissension in the congregation continued until, in James Dann, pastor 1882-1916, New Road chapel found a worthy successor to Hinton. Membership rose to a peak of 368. In the earlier 20th century membership of New Road chapel fell, partly as a result of movement of population, partly because of the building of new chapels in the suburbs. (fn. 85) The chapel was in use in 1972.
The New Road Baptist chapel, (fn. 86) a large rectangular stone building, contains survivals of the Presbyterian chapel of 1721, which was almost entirely rebuilt in 1798. It was further enlarged and a baptistry added by John Hudson in 1819; baptisms had earlier taken place at Abingdon. (fn. 87) The chapel was endowed with several charities. By deed of trust dated 1786 Abraham Atkins of Clapham (Surr.) gave estates for the support of Baptist ministers, chapels, and poor members of congregations in 14 towns and villages, including Oxford, and by will dated 1791 he increased the endowment and the number of beneficiaries. In the early 19th century the Oxford minister was receiving £24, and £11 was spent on the poor or church repairs; by 1924 the income had fallen to c. £11 for the minister and c. £3 for the poor. (fn. 88) In accordance with the will of Charles Hughes, dated 1799, a deed of 1804 gave to trustees sufficient stock to yield £10 for the support of an assistant minister at New Road, and similar sums for the upkeep of the chapel, for the dissenting Sunday schools in Oxford, and for each of 12 neighbouring pastors, on condition that they preached once a year at New Road if required. (fn. 89) Henry Goring, by will proved 1859, gave £1,000 for the support of the pastor of New Road chapel, and in 1879 the income was £31. (fn. 90) All three charities survived in 1972.
In 1823 a Baptist chapel was founded in George Street, St. Clement's, with Hinton's son J. H. Hinton as minister, but it closed in 1836. (fn. 91) A small chapel built in Middle Way, Summertown in 1824 was disused in 1830, and may have been closed by 1829 when one of its founders, William Carter, registered another meeting-house at his ironworks in Walton Street; there seems to have been a Baptist meeting at a private house in Summertown in 1831. (fn. 92)
The first major new Baptist chapel in Oxford, the Adullam chapel in Commercial Road, St. Ebbe's, was built in 1832 for and largely at the expense of H. B. Bulteel, the former curate of St. Ebbe's church; (fn. 93) it was designed by William Fisher and was for many years the largest nonconformist chapel in Oxford, seating 800. (fn. 96) Bulteel's preaching and faith-healing attracted a large congregation, but the precise religious affiliations of the chapel are uncertain, since Bulteel's own religious views fluctuated: after an association with the founders of the Brethren he seems, under the influence of Irving, to have abandoned strict Calvinism, probably returning to more moderate Calvinism later. (fn. 95) Bulteel left Oxford in 1846 and his successors, lacking his personal force and private means, were unable to hold together the congregation of the unendowed chapel. (fn. 96) In 1851 the chapel was described as Particular Baptist, and its congregation was said to be between 500 and 600. (fn. 97) In 1858, however, it was 'dissolved' and in 1862 was taken over by the Methodist Reformers. (fn. 98)
In 1868 it was bought back by the remnants of the 'Bulteelers', who, under Alexander Macfarlane of Spurgeon's College, Camberwell, had started meetings in 1866 in the Chequers Sale Room in High Street, moving the following year to the former Quaker meeting-house in Pusey Lane. In 1869 the renovated chapel was opened by Charles Spurgeon. (fn. 99) The group was at first known as the Tabernacle Baptist Society, (fn. 100) but the chapel was later described as Particular Baptist, and remained so until its closure in 1937. (fn. 101) The remaining members joined with a Baptist congregation from South Hinksey to open a chapel in Wytham Street, New Hinksey, in 1938, (fn. 102) which remained in use, with a resident minister, in 1972.
In 1843 William Higgins registered a meeting of Particular Baptists in his house in Clarendon Place, Jericho, (fn. 103) and in 1851 the congregation averaged 60. (fn. 104) The address of 'Higgins's room' was given as King Street, Jericho in 1869, and there was another meeting of 'Strict Communion Baptists' in Iffley Road. (fn. 105) The King Street Baptists were derisively called 'Hypers' in the 1870s, and may have been connected with the earlier group of Bulteelers known by that name. (fn. 106) In 1881 they built a chapel in Albert Street, Jericho, described as Strict Baptist, (fn. 107) which remained open in 1972.
A Baptist chapel in Caroline Street, St. Clement's was recorded between 1869 and 1887. (fn. 108) A Baptist group meeting in Pusey Lane was recorded between 1883 and 1891. (fn. 109) Another group in Bridge Street, Oseney, in 1883 was perhaps the Oseney mission from the New Road church which owned a school-room in Oseney in 1878; (fn. 110) services continued at Bridge Street until 1921. (fn. 111) New Road church was also responsible for a mission in St. Thomas's parish, where houses were licensed for worship in 1829 and 1830, and a new hall was built in 1893. (fn. 112) The mission had only 11 members in 1912, and had closed before 1940 when its site was sold. (fn. 113)
The assistant minister of New Road chapel, J. H. Moore, was holding open-air meetings in Summertown in 1896. A Baptist chapel was opened in 1897 on the corner of Woodstock Road and Beechcroft Road; (fn. 114) in 1898 New Road chapel 'dismissed' Moore and nine others to form the North Oxford church. (fn. 115) In 1903, at the request of the Baptist Union, New Road took charge of the chapel until 1909 when a further 21 members were transferred to North Oxford. (fn. 116) The chapel was rebuilt in 1955. (fn. 117) Baptists began to meet in a hall in Crowell Road, Cowley, in 1939, and in 1941, with the help and support of New Road chapel, the John Bunyan church was built. In 1964 it was replaced by an octagonal building of brick and glass, designed by Peter Reynolds. (fn. 118) The Headington Baptist chapel, in Old High Street, opened in 1836, (fn. 119) remained in use in 1972.
Methodism had its origin in Wesley's 'Holy Club' in Oxford and the first Methodists were university men; they ministered to prisoners in Bocardo and the castle, and to the poor in workhouses, as well as running a school for poor children, (fn. 120) but the movement was slow to take institutional form in the city. In 1736 William Chapman of Pembroke College was reading to a 'religious society' in St. Ebbe's parish, and in 1738 the rector there reported a Sunday evening meeting of c. 30 Methodists, all of whom attended the parish church regularly. (fn. 121) Such small meetings apparently continued, (fn. 122) and in 1748 Oxford became head of a circuit, (fn. 123) although there seems to have been no chapel at that time. In 1751 Wesley preached in a private house; in 1769, having been shut out from New Road Presbyterian chapel, he preached in James Mears's garden in Church Street. In 1775 the New Road chapel was too small for the numbers that wished to hear him. (fn. 124) It was later claimed that the Wesleyan chapel in Oxford was founded in 1760 at no. 7 St. Ebbe's Street. (fn. 125) In 1768 six Methodist undergraduates expelled from St. Edmund Hall had attended meetings in a private house, (fn. 126) in 1771 Methodists were attending the Presbyterian chapel, and in 1774 others were meeting in a house in St. Giles's parish. (fn. 127) It was not until 1783 that Wesley reported his visit to the 'new preaching house at Oxford, a lightsome, cheerful place, and well filled with rich and poor, scholars as well as townsmen'. (fn. 128) The building, later nos. 32-4 New Inn Hall Street, was leased from Brasenose College. The two circuit ministers had their base in a garret in the same street. (fn. 129)
Although on later visits Wesley found the chapel well filled, (fn. 130) it is probable that most of the congregation were sympathizers rather than formal members of the Methodist group. After Wesley's death Methodism in Oxford declined and in 1799, when there were fewer than 20 members, was said to be in danger of 'entirely falling'. (fn. 131) In 1815, however, largely on the initiative of John Pike, a prominent member for many years, the society built a new and larger chapel. (fn. 132)
The new chapel, further north and on the opposite side of the street to the old chapel, was opened in 1818; it was a classical building designed by the Wesleyan architect William Jenkins. (fn. 133) Although probably too large for the membership when first built it appears to have stimulated a sharp increase in membership to c. 190 by 1825, (fn. 134) but the society was burdened for decades by the heavy debt incurred for its building. (fn. 135)
The splitting off of the Primitive Methodists in the 1830s and of the Wesleyan Reformers in the 1840s reduced membership; in 1845 there were 249 members and by 1854 only 180, although in 1851 congregations were said to average 380 in the morning, 120 in the afternoon, and 600 in the evening. (fn. 136) Falling membership aggravated the chapel's financial crisis; it was not until 1867 that the chapel debt was finally paid off, after much generosity from members and sympathizers, notably Henry Goring, an eccentric Anglican who was one of the chapel trustees. (fn. 137)
In 1871 the Wesleyan Conference decided that the chapel, which despite extension in 1870 seated fewer than 600, was too small, and a new chapel was built in New Inn Hall Street in front of the old building; it was designed in '14th-century style' by Charles Bell, and comprised an aisled nave, small chancel, and a tall tower and spire. It was opened in 1878 as the Wesley Memorial Church. (fn. 138) The old chapel became a girls' school, was sold to St. Peter's Hall in 1932, and was demolished in 1969. (fn. 139)
Despite the grandeur of the new building, George Maunder, the minister responsible for much of the planning and fund-raising, described Oxford Methodism as the poorest he had known, and a few years later Hugh Price Hughes was advised to refuse appointment to Oxford, where, he was told, Methodism was dead. (fn. 140) Hughes was not deterred, however, and during his ministry of 1881-4 he organized an eight-day house to house mission to the city, sent younger members of the congregation in 'gospel chariots' to outlying villages, attempted a reconciliation with the United Methodist Free Church, and made temperance an essential feature of church work. In his first year chapel membership rose from 280 to 398, but much of his success personal; by 1890 numbers had fallen again to 259, although active evangelism had by no means ceased. (fn. 141)
In the early 20th century the church's evangelism was characterized by open-air meetings and houseto-house visitation. In 1920 the system of pew rents, which had caused as much friction among Methodists as among Anglicans, was abolished, but the move at first increased the chapel's financial difficulties. (fn. 142) The congregation, which in 1930 was 120, nearly double that of any other central Oxford chapel, was increased in 1933 by the closure of the old United Methodist chapel in St. Michael's Street and the transfer of its members to the Wesley Memorial Church. (fn. 143)
A Methodist meeting in St. Clement's, licensed in 1821, (fn. 144) seems to have been short-lived, but a chapel there was taken into the circuit in 1837, (fn. 145) and in 1839, the centenary of Wesley's conversion, a small 'Centenary Chapel' was opened in Caroline Street. (fn. 146) Services were still being held there in 1846, (fn. 147) but the chapel was presumably sold soon afterwards as it was being leased by the Primitive Methodists in 1851. (fn. 148) Wesleyan Methodism began to revive in East Oxford in 1871 when a Sunday school was started in a stable in Chapel Street, Cowley Road. (fn. 149) The congregation thus formed moved to the meeting-house in Alma Place vacated in 1875 by the Primitive Methodists, and in 1883 opened the St. Clement's Mission Chapel in Tyndale Road. In 1904 a new church, Wesley Hall, known as Cowley Road Methodist Church from 1934, was built on the corner of Jeune Street and Cowley Road; it is a large 'arts and crafts gothic' building of stone, designed by J. Stephens Salter. (fn. 150)
A mission established in Jericho in 1871 at first met in a house in Albert Street, but by 1873 a chapel had been built in Cranham Street. (fn. 151) On the initiative of Hugh Price Hughes a new chapel, designed in gothic style by T. Mullett Ellis, was opened in Walton Street in 1883, (fn. 152) but the Cranham Street chapel continued as a mission until 1918. (fn. 153) Declining population in the area led to the closure of the Walton Street chapel in 1946. (fn. 154)
Difficulties in finding a permanent meeting-place hampered the Methodist cause in Summertown between 1842 and 1847, (fn. 155) and the involvement of the preacher, J. M. Crapper, with the Congregationalists in 1849, and his secession with the Reformers in 1850, ended the Wesleyan mission there. (fn. 156) A mission to New Hinksey was more successful, and a chapel was opened in 1882; (fn. 157) it closed in 1940. (fn. 158) Chapels opened in Headington Quarry in 1860 and in Lime Walk, Headington, in 1889, (fn. 159) were still in use in 1972. A new church, of red brick in 'vaguely gothic' style, was built at Lime Walk in 1932 and modernized in 1968. (fn. 160)
A Primitive Methodist preacher who visited Oxford in 1825 was driven off with eggs and filth, and street preaching again provoked rioting in 1829. (fn. 161) A room in St. Thomas's parish was licensed for worship in 1830, (fn. 162) and open-air services were held at Gloucester Green. (fn. 163) Missions from Witney and Wallingford came to Oxford in 1835 and 1839, and the latter established a chapel in Abbey Place, St. Ebbe's, (fn. 164) but meetings started in St. Clement's, Jericho, and Summertown in the early 1840s all failed. (fn. 165) In 1843 a larger chapel was built in New Street, St. Ebbe's, (fn. 166) and in 1845 Oxford became the centre of a circuit, although not one of 'any great influence and strength'. (fn. 167) By 1851 the Primitive Methodists were leasing the former Wesleyan Centenary Chapel in Caroline Street; the two chapels were served by the same minister, and in 1851 the congregations averaged 100 at New Street in the morning, and 50 in the afternoon and 120 in the evening at Caroline Street; total membership at both chapels was 60. (fn. 168) The Caroline Street chapel was closed in 1853 and its 24 members moved to New Street, bringing membership there to 72. (fn. 169) Membership increased to 84 in 1865, and in 1867 meetings started again in St. Clement's, in Alma Place, where in 1872 there were 43 members, while at New Street there were 53. (fn. 170) The St. Clement's congregation moved in 1875 to a new chapel, designed in gothic style by the builder J. C. Curtis, in Rectory Road (formerly Pembroke Street). (fn. 171) Both chapels survived the union of the Methodist churches in 1932, but the New Street chapel closed in 1943 and Rectory Road in 1953. (fn. 172)
WESLEYAN REFORMERS (UNITED METHODIST FREE CHURCH).
In the later 1840s ministers expelled from the Wesleyan Conference held meetings in Oxford in the town hall and the Adullam Chapel, (fn. 173) but the eventual secession from the New Inn Hall Street chapel was partly due to personal and local factors. A local preacher, J. M. Crapper, left the chapel after a serious difference of opinion with the circuit minister in 1847, (fn. 174) and in 1849 he resigned from the circuit rather than cease to officiate at the Congregational church in Summertown; a number of other preachers followed him. (fn. 175) Between 1849 and 1851 there was considerable friction between the minister and Sunday School teachers, and in 1850 a dispute over the appointment of a circuit steward led to the resignation of 17 local preachers and many church members. (fn. 176) The seceders, who in 1850 formed the nucleus of the Wesley Reform Union, met first in a house in Little Clarendon Street. (fn. 177) By 1851 they were hiring a room in New Inn Hall Street and attracting congregations averaging 83 in the morning and 105 in the evening; (fn. 178) membership was said to be 90. (fn. 179) The same year they moved to a former schoolroom in Paradise Square. After their union with the Wesleyan Methodist Association in 1857 to form the United Methodist Free Church, the congregation moved to the Adullam Chapel in Commercial Road, (fn. 180) but in 1868 they moved again to the old Quaker meeting-house in Pusey Lane. In 1872 they built a permanent chapel, designed by J. C. Curtis, in St. Michael's Street; it closed in 1933 having been made redundant by the Methodist union of 1932. (fn. 181) Another church, perhaps a mission, in Blackfriars Road was recorded in 1877. (fn. 182) A chapel at Rose Hill, Cowley, which was a United Methodist Free Church from 1860 (fn. 183) was enlarged in 1942, and again in 1958. A resident minister was appointed in 1946. (fn. 184)
The modern Congregationalist movement in Oxford began with a secession from New Road Baptist chapel. In 1830 a breakaway group of twelve New Road members was meeting in the house of William Cousins, coachmaker, in High Street, and later in that of Samuel Collingwood, printer to the university, in St. Giles's Street. (fn. 185) Both men were Paedobaptists, as were most of the 28 New Road members who had seceded by 1836. (fn. 186) The new group's stated aim was 'to supply the lamentable deficiency of places of worship where evangelical truth was preached', and although there was apparently some ill-feeling in the early stages of the secession the New Road minister attended the opening of the first Congregational chapel in 1832. The chapel, in George Street, was a brick building in Anglo-Norman style, designed by J. Greenshields of Oxford, and contained 500 sittings, increased to over 700 by 1851. (fn. 187)
The new society grew rapidly; in 1837 there were 70 members, in 1841 143 as well as a large Sunday school. (fn. 188) In 1843 some members were transferred to a new church in Summertown, and a few more left to join the Brethren, but congregations of over 250 were recorded in 1851. (fn. 189) During the long and successful pastorate of David Martin (1858-79) the church was regularly filled, but thereafter congregations decreased, and the church's decline was hastened by vacancies in the pastorate, rapid turnover of ministers, difficulties in raising money for the minister's stipend, and the gradual depopulation of the city centre which began in the 1880s. (fn. 190) Members lived at rather greater distances from each other than those in Summertown and formed a less close community. The opening of Mansfield College in 1889 (fn. 191) provided university Congregationalists with a chapel of their own, but a few academics, notably Sir James Murray (d. 1915), the lexicographer, and W. E. Soothill, professor of Chinese 1920-36, attended the George Street chapel. Murray and W. R. Selbie, principal of Mansfield College, took the lead at church meetings in the absence of a pastor.
Despite the continued decline in numbers, which meant that by 1925 there were over 440 vacant sittings, (fn. 192) the church's financial position, which had been difficult for much of its history, improved in the early 20th century as new ways of raising money were found. A site for a new church in St. Giles's Street was bought in 1900, but the idea was abandoned in 1910. In 1930, when congregations averaged only c. 50, it became clear that part of the chapel site would be needed for road widening; because of the increasing difficulty of attracting a congregation to the city centre it was decided not to rebuild on another site; suggested unions with the Baptists or Wesleyans proved unworkable and the congregation disbanded in 1933 when the church, which had been sold to the city council, was closed.
Congregationalist services are said to have started in Summertown in 1838 to counter the growing influence of the Tractarian movement, (fn. 193) but it was not until 1840 that a house was registered for worship. (fn. 194) In 1843 22 members left the George Street church to form a new congregation in Summertown. (fn. 195) A chapel in Middle Way was opened in 1844 with H. B. Bulteel among the preachers at the opening service. (fn. 196) The new church, which served a poor area still essentially a village, depended greatly on the adherence of particular families, notably the Lindseys and the Pharaohs; its poverty led to long gaps in the pastorate. In 1850 and 1851 the Methodist local preacher J. M. Crapper acted as minister. (fn. 197) In 1851 the chapel was nearly full, with average congregations of 160 in the morning and 190 in the evening. (fn. 198) Between 1867 and 1873 Methodist Free Church ministers helped at Summertown, (fn. 199) and from the late 1880s the pulpit was often supplied by students from Mansfield College. (fn. 200) In 1894, although the church had been without a minister for most of the previous eight years, a new and larger church was built on the Banbury Road; membership was then 44 and congregations averaged 200. Special services to attract the many newcomers to the neighbourhood helped to raise membership from 58 in 1897 to 81 in 1901. (fn. 201) Between the First and Second World Wars a number of professional people joined the congregation, which hitherto had been largely working-class. (fn. 202) Many members of the George Street church transferred to Summertown on that church's closure in 1933. (fn. 203) A manse was bought for the minister in 1922. (fn. 204)
Summertown Congregational church is in the gothic style, of brick with stone dressings. It was apparently designed by the local Congregationalist builder T. H. Kingerlee. The nave was built in 1893, and the church was extended by the addition of transepts and meeting-rooms in 1910. The previous chapel, in Middle Way, a simple stuccoed structure with round-headed windows, was demolished in 1971. (fn. 205)
The Cowley Road Congregational church, established as a mission from the George Street chapel in 1868-9, (fn. 206) changed its name to Tyndale church in 1955. (fn. 207) It was closed in 1962 and demolished in 1963, the profits from the sale and redevelopment of the site being used for the benefit of the ecumenical church of the Holy Family in Blackbird Leys. (fn. 208) The Temple Cowley Congregational church, first established in 1878 and moved to Oxford Road, Cowley, in 1930 (fn. 209) was still open in 1972. A church in Marston Road, successor to the mission hall opened in 1885 as a branch of the Cowley Road church, was opened in 1939. (fn. 210) In 1949 a hall was built in Collinwood Road, Headington, for a congregation which had been meeting in a private house since 1945; a full-time minister was appointed in 1951, and a permanent church, a plain rectangular building of red brick designed by H. O. Bailey, was built in 1959. (fn. 211)
J. N. Darby found sympathizers in Oxford as early as 1827, and a group continued to meet in the 1830s, (fn. 212) apparently in Queen Street. The early Brethren were said to have been joined in 1840 by members of Bulteel's Adullam Chapel, and in 1869 and 1872 their leader was a former minister of that chapel. In 1875 they were meeting in Paradise Square, (fn. 213) and in 1877 they built a chapel in New Inn Hall Street which continued in use until 1964. (fn. 214) Between 1906 and c. 1920 there was also a meeting in Chapel Place, Paradise Square. (fn. 215) A group of Open Brethren, holding services in a gospel hall in St. Mary's Road by 1895, (fn. 216) moved in 1935 to a hall in James Street, which in 1969 was renamed James Street church. (fn. 217) Open or Christian Brethren met in a hall in Lime Walk, Headington, from the early 1940s until 1963. (fn. 218) In 1949 a third group of Christian Brethren built a temporary gospel hall on the Great Headley estate, which in 1961 was replaced by a new church on the Northway estate. (fn. 219) A meeting-room in Church Street, Headington, recorded between 1938 and 1945, was said to be used by the Exclusive Brethren in 1940. (fn. 220)
Early in 1881 an outdoor procession and services in the Temperance Hall in Penson's Gardens were organized by the Salvation Army. (fn. 221) Despite riots and fierce official opposition, culminating in 1882 in an unsuccessful prosecution of the Salvationists for obstruction by the Local Board, (fn. 222) the Army established itself; by early 1882, when Mrs. William Booth addressed a large audience in the Corn Exchange, there were c. 300 members. The first headquarters were in Sadler Street, although a disused rag-mill in Friars Street was apparently used for services in 1882. (fn. 223) A new barracks or citadel to hold 1,000 persons, designed by E. J. Sherwood, was built in Castle Street in 1888, and was opened by William Booth. (fn. 224) It was demolished in 1972 when the area was redeveloped, and replaced by a Community Service Centre in Albion Place. (fn. 225) A Young People's Hall in Castle Street was recorded from 1919 to 1965, (fn. 226) a working men's hostel in Gloucester Green (1935-7), and a number of other barracks or headquarters, usually for short periods. (fn. 227)
SCOTTISH AND ENGLISH PRESBYTERIANS.
A Scottish church was opened in the former Quaker meeting-house in Pusey Lane by H. C. Bazeley of Brasenose College in 1871. (fn. 228) In 1877 he built a small church in Nelson Street, but on his death in 1883 the congregation dispersed. (fn. 229) Concern for Presbyterian undergraduates led in 1914 to the setting up of a chaplaincy jointly sponsored by the Church of Scotland, the United Free Church of Scotland, and the Presbyterian Church of England, and the building of the chapel of St. Columba's in Alfred Street the following year. (fn. 230) The chapel, designed by T. Phillips Figgis in mild gothic style, comprises an aisleless nave and shallow rectangular chancel; a lobby designed by E. Brian Smith was added in 1960. (fn. 231) The chapel was open to visitors from the first (fn. 232) and in 1929 a congregation of the Presbyterian Church of England was formed there. Thereafter St. Columba's served as both church and university chaplaincy and was wholly administered by the Presbyterian Church of England, retaining only slight ties with the Church of Scotland. (fn. 233)
None of the 17th- or 18th-century nonconformist bodies in Oxford developed into a Unitarian church. In 1889 Manchester College was founded for the training of Unitarian and Free Christian ministers, and a small Unitarian congregation was associated with it, (fn. 234) although the college was independent of denominational control and its chapel was registered for worship by persons who 'refuse to be designated'. (fn. 235) By 1900 services and a Sunday school were being held in Charles Street, St. Ebbe's; in 1911 they were described as 'Christian Brethren', presumably meaning undenominational; the mission hall was said to be Unitarian until 1918, (fn. 236) although by that date it was run by the eccentric U. V. Herford. (fn. 237)
OTHER CHRISTIAN BODIES.
An undenominational mission, Oxford City Mission, a branch of the Country Towns Mission, held outdoor and cottage services from 1854. (fn. 238) From 1889 until the early 20th century it was based on the Magdalen Road mission hall, built in 1879. (fn. 239) The hall was rebuilt in 1901, (fn. 240) and although the mission ended in 1933 (fn. 241) the hall continued to be used for services. In 1965 it became Magdalen Road Evangelical Free Church, affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Free Churches; the building was extended in 1971. (fn. 242)
A Catholic Apostolic or Irvingite church was recorded in the late 1820s, and another was meeting in a room behind no. 114 High Street in 1874 and 1875; (fn. 243) by 1882 the group appears to have objected to any distinctive religious appellation. (fn. 244) A meeting-room registered in 1850 was described in 1851 as the New Jerusalem Church for the worship of 'Jehovah Jesus Christ' and attracted a congregation of 40. (fn. 245)
In 1898 U.V. Herford minister of a 'Free Protestant' congregation connected with Manchester College, broke away and built the Church of the Divine Love in Percy Street, and in an adjacent house established the Order of the Christian Faith, which followed a quasiFranciscan rule. Basically he remained Unitarian, but this was concealed by liturgies taken over mostly from Eastern churches. His church, replaced in 1913 by a chapel in Howard Street, was described as Evangelical Catholic and had a congregation of about 50. In 1902 Herford acquired consecration in India as 'Mar Jacobus, bishop of Mercia and Middlesex'. In 1909 he opened a mission in Temple Cowley and in 1913 an oratory in his house, no. 128 Woodstock Road. Between 1915 and 1917 he reopened the (Unitarian) Charles Street Institute. None of the chapels survived his death in 1938. (fn. 246)
St. John's Free Evangelical Church in Squitchey Lane was opened in 1931 to provide a distinctly protestant alternative to the Anglo-Catholic parish church of St. Michael, Summertown; in 1946 the property was conveyed to trustees for the maintenance of a protestant and Calvinistic witness. (fn. 247)
A Christadelphian meeting-room at the junction of St. Clement's Street and Boulter Street was recorded in 1900. (fn. 248) In 1905 the congregation moved to the former Wesleyan chapel in Tyndale Road which remained the Christadelphian Hall in 1972. (fn. 249) A Christadelphian meeting room in the Co-operative Hall, South Parade, Summertown, was recorded in 1971. (fn. 250)
A railway mission hall in Botley Road was opened in 1903 and closed in 1953. (fn. 251) The building was taken over as the City Temple by an Elim Pentecostal church. (fn. 252) In 1962 the church opened a Sunday school in Blackbird Leys. (fn. 253) A Free Pentecostal church in Cowley Road closed in 1955, having been open only a year. (fn. 254) The Oxford Pentecostal church (Assemblies of God) was opened in Lake Street in 1967 and moved to the Co-operative Assembly Hall, Cowley Road, in 1970. (fn. 255)
Christian Science services were held at no. 6 Canterbury Road from 1902 to 1907, in Taphouse's Music Room from 1907 to 1921, and in a specially built hall behind no. 24 St. Michael's Street from 1921 to 1934. In 1934 a new church was built behind nos. 34-36 St. Giles's. In 1924 the congregation, hitherto the Oxford Christian Science Society, became the First Church of Christ Scientist, Oxford. (fn. 256)
A Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Pembroke Street, St. Clement's was recorded from 1939 to 1945, and another in Temple Street from 1952 onwards; (fn. 257) it was extended in 1972. (fn. 258)
A branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) was established in Oxford in 1948. In 1972 meetings were held at the Blackbird Leys Community Centre. (fn. 259)
A branch of the Seventh Day Adventist Church was founded in Oxford in 1958. (fn. 260) The congregation met in a chapel in St. Mary's Road until 1972 when they opened a new church in Chester Street. (fn. 261)
A small congregation of German-speaking Lutherans began to meet in Oxford in 1939, first in Mansfield College, and from the autumn of that year in the university church of St. Mary the Virgin. (fn. 262)
A number of Spiritualist groups, both Christian and non-Christian have existed in Oxford, the earliest being the Spiritualist Society at no. 21 George Street, recorded in 1935. (fn. 263) The Oxford Spiritualist and Psychical Research Society in New Inn Hall Street was recorded in 1949. (fn. 264) A Headington Christian Spiritualist church was recorded between 1940 and 1947, and an Oxford Christian Spiritualist church in Gloucester Green in 1962. A Spiritualist church in Oxford Road, Cowley, was recorded from the early 1940s until 1952, and the Christian Spiritualist Cowley Temple of Christ from 1958 to 1961. (fn. 265) The Oxford Spiritualist church in Oxford Road, Cowley, was founded in 1969, (fn. 266) and there was another Christian Spiritualist church in Middle Way, Summertown, from 1967. (fn. 267)
During the Second World War Russian Orthodox services were held in St. Bartholomew's chapel. After the war the congregation moved to a room at no. 4 Marston Street dedicated to St. Nicholas; the chapel there was sometimes served by Serbian as well as Russian Orthodox priests. (fn. 268) In 1959 the Russian and Greek parishes of the Annunciation and the Holy Trinity began to use a room in the house of St. Gregory and St. Macrina, no. 1 Canterbury Road, as a chapel, and in 1973 a church of the Annunciation, designed by B. Kershaw, was consecrated in the garden of the house. (fn. 269)