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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Institutions


Whitefield’s Chapel

Also known as Tottenham Court Road Chapel/Whitefield’s Tabernacle/Whitfield Chapel


It was constructed in 1756 for the evangelical preacher George Whitefield and his congregation, and opened for worship in the same year (Survey of London, vol. 21, 1949)

It was extended in 1759–1760 (Survey of London, vol. 21, 1949)

The original lease expired in 1827, and the Chapel was put up for auction (along with its associated vestry rooms, almshouses, minister's house, two small lodges, and extensive burial grounds), but was eventually bought by the Trustees, refurbished, and re-opened for worship in 1831 (Survey of London, vol. 21, 1949)

In 1857 it was almost completely destroyed by fire and subsequently bought by the London Congregational Building Society, who erected a domed replacement building (Survey of London, vol. 21, 1949)

This Chapel began collapsing in 1889 and services had to be held in a temporary structure while it was again rebuilt; it reopened in 1899 on a grander scale with a hall below

In 1945 it was completely destroyed by a flying bomb and had to be rebuilt again

The current building became the headquarters of the American Church in London (part of the United Reformed Church) and the London Chinese Lutheran Church in the late twentieth century

What was reforming about it?

It was associated with an extremely controversial founder: “Of the 200 anti-Methodist publications appearing in England during 1739–40, 154 were aimed at Whitefield” (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

It was, once extended, “the largest nonconformist church building in Britain and probably in the world” (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Where in Bloomsbury

It was located on the west side of Tottenham Court Road, opposite Francis Street (Survey of London, vol. 21, 1949)

Website of current institution

The American Church in London is at www.amchurch.co.uk (opens in new window)

The London Chinese Lutheran Church is at http://english.lclchurch.org.uk (opens in new window)

Books about it

None found


Its archives are held in London Metropolitan Archives, ref. ACC/1801; details are available online via Access to Archives (opens in new window)

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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