Trinity Independent Chapel

The Trinity Independent Chapel (also known as the Congregational or Methodist chapel) was an early Victorian church in Poplar. It was destroyed by a V-2 rocket hit during the Second World War, and later re-built in Modernist style. In the late 1990s the building was sold to the Calvary Charismatic Baptist Church, and since then has served as their Prayer Temple and international headquarters.

Trinity Independent Chapel
Trinity Church 2006 Poplar.jpg
The New Trinity Congregational Church 1951–present
LocationLondon Borough of Tower Hamlets
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationCharismatic Baptist, earlier Methodist and Congregationalist
Architecture
Architect(s)William Hosking and John Jay

HistoryEdit

Foundation and designEdit

 
Trinity Chapel, Sailors Home, East India Road, Poplar

The Trinity Independent Chapel was designed in 1840–41 by William Hosking FSA, and built by John Jay. It occupied a site at the corner of East India Dock Road and Augusta Street (Annabel Close) in Poplar, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, near the East India Docks. With its large, elegant frontage—a combination of Grecian and Italian Renaissance styles—directly facing the main road, this lavish building came to dominate its streetscene at a time when chapel architecture in the East End of London was generally low-key.

The design was financed by the shipyard owner George Green, a prominent local Congregationalist with non-denominational sympathies. Green and Hosking agreed to include a bell in their design, falling foul of the local Anglican clergy. The parish authorities knew of no previous independent meeting house that had incorporated a bell, so they instructed Green and Hosking to render the bell immobile and silent, to prevent it from competing with their parish church. Gradually, as chapel design came more and more to adopt Anglican church architecture (the two often being indistinguishable by the late Victorian era), the bell was allowed to be unfixed.

Green also contributed to many philanthropic causes in Poplar and Blackwall: "minister's house, sailors' home, schools, and almshouses", according to the Survey of London.[1] The Sailors' Home (later Board of Trade offices and other uses, converted into flats in the 1980s) was built at 133 East India Dock Road, beyond the Wesleyan Methodist "Queen Victoria Seaman's Rest". He also endowed George Green's School (1828), which was rebuilt as the George Green Centre at Island Gardens in 1974–1978.

In 1843, the Trinity Chapel Day School was established, also financed by George Green. In 1857, new buildings for 591 children were built in Upper New Street, but following the Elementary Education Act 1870, the school was transferred to the London School Board, who renamed it Upper North Street Board School, now called Mayflower Primary School.[2]

1860-1944Edit

The first minister at Trinity Chapel was the Rev. George Smith (1803–1870), Secretary of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. His pink granite pedestal memorial can be seen today at the non-denominational Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington.

Despite being at the heart of the industrial and commercial East End of London, the chapel's surroundings were enormously deprived even before they became a prime target of the 1940-1941 Blitz. Under the leadership of Rev William Dick (possibly the chapel's most noteworthy and influential minister in the 20th century), the chapel became a beacon of hope for the dispossessed and downtrodden, seeing its efforts to improve the local population's lives as an integral part of its Christian mission.

The chapel itself survived that first Blitz, only to be destroyed by a V-2 rocket hit in 1944. The only part to survive was the bell, which had been salvaged from the bombsite. Having rung in the old chapel for the last time on the morning war was declared in 1939, it was later recast, repaired and incorporated into the new church.

RebuiltEdit

The chapel's replacement on the same site, the New Trinity Congregational Church, formed part of the Exhibition of Live Architecture for the Festival of Britain in 1951, as its site abutted the Lansbury Estate development (appropriately named after the Labour politician George Lansbury, who went to prison for dispersing local tax money directly to the needy rather than passing it on to the London County Council). The church was re-built somewhat experimentally in a bold and very modern post-war style, using new materials such as concrete, and new building techniques. Social work continued to be a priority for the church community.

Further readingEdit

  • Dunnett, H. (1951) 1951 Exhibition of Architecture, Poplar; London: HMSO

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ East India Dock Road, North side - Trinity Congregational Chapel (demolished) British History Online
  2. ^ Hobhouse, Hermione, ed. (1994). "Poplar New Town: Infirmary, churches, schools and almshouses". Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs. London County Council, London. p. 206.

Coordinates: 51°30′41″N 0°1′8″W / 51.51139°N 0.01889°W / 51.51139; -0.01889