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Bloomsbury Institutions


National Scotch Church

Also known as Caledonian Church/Regent Square United Reformed Church/Lumen


It was consecrated as a Church of Scotland place of worship in 1827

It was specially built for Edward Irving, the popular minister of the Caledonian chapel in Cross Street, Hatton Garden, which became too small when Irving increased the small congregation to about 2000 after arriving in London to take up his ministry in December 1821

It was the first commission for architect Sir William Tite; its Decorated Gothic style was partly modelled on York Minster (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for Sir William Tite)

At its opening on 11 May 1827, with seating for 1700, it was filled to overflowing (The Times, 12 May 1827)

Irving’s preaching was controversial, being millenarian and charismatic

From 1830 to 1832 members of the congregation began to ‘speak in tongues’, with Irving’s uneasy permission

The Times warned “sensible people who frequent the Caledonian Chapel – lately converted into a miracle shop – that these follies are contagious” (The Times, 29 October 1831)

In May 1832 Irving was expelled by his superiors for preaching the sinfulness of Christ

He left the church, taking a large proportion of his congregation with him

At first he took rooms in the Royal London Bazaar off nearby Gray’s Inn Road, then at the end of 1832 settled in a hall in Newman Street, west of Tottenham Court Road

The church in Regent Square continued as a Scottish Presbyterian church until 1843, when it became English Presbyterian after some of its congregation left to form the Free Church of Scotland with Thomas Chalmers (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952; Barbara Waddington, The Regent Square United Reformed Church (Lumen) in the Twentieth Century)

The building was bombed in 1945 and became unsafe; finally, in 1960, it was demolished and replaced by a modern building which continues to house the Presbyterian congregation

What was reforming about it?

It was built for controversial preacher Edward Irving and quickly became equally controversial

Where in Bloomsbury

It was located in the south-west corner of Regent Square

Website of current institution

The Church has its own website at www.lumenurc.org.uk (opens in new window)

Its parent institution is the United Reformed Church at www.urc.org.uk (opens in new window)

Books about it

John Hair, Regent Square: Eighty Years of a London Congregation (1899)

Barbara Waddington, The Regent Square United Reformed Church (Lumen) in the Twentieth Century, online at www.lumenurc.org.uk (opens in new window)


Its archives are held on site in Regent Square

For more information, see Barbara Waddington, ‘Lumen Archives’ (opens in new window)

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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