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Newington Green Church

Newington Green Church

Built 1708, enlarged 1860.
Oldest non-conformist place of worship
in London, which is still in use.
(Newington Green)

The Unitarian Chapel, no. 39 Newington Green, and its forecourt wall and railings are both grade II listed structures. Historically, Newington Green was a centre of non-Conformist activity, and after the Toleration Act of 1689 non-Conformist meetings houses were allowed to be built and the Chapel was built 1708 by Edward Harrison, goldsmith, for a congregation established in 1682. It was originally built by the Presbyterians, but became Unitarian Chapel at the end of the eighteenth century. The Chapel is the oldest non-conformist church in the Britain still in use for worship.

The Chapel was re-fronted and enlarged in 1860, when a chapel school was built to the rear, as well as an apse with a pulpit to the main Chapel. The chapel is of single storey with a pedimented gable of stucco facing Newington Green. It has a three bay front with two large round-headed windows to either side, and Tuscan pilasters to the corners. There is a panel above the central door, in a scrolled moulded architrave, with the inscription: “ERECTED A.D. 1708, ENLARGED A.D. 1860”. Historic views show that the original façade had a small pediment against a large hipped roof, with a central oval window below.

The interior contains monuments to several notable non-conformists: Doctor Richard Price (1723- 1791); Anna Barbauld (1743-1825), and Samuel Rodgers (1763-1855). Doctor Price was the most prominent minister of the Chapel (minister 1758-84); he was a moral philosopher, political writer and financial adviser to William Pitt. He was a friend to several prominent American revolutionaries including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, David Hume and Tom Paine - several of whom visited him on the Green - and his writings in favour of the French and American Revolutions prompted Edmund Burke to write his Reflections on the Revolution in France arguing in favour of the monarchy. Doctor Price cast a huge influence over the political life of post-revolutionary America.

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Page updated: 15 Jun 2010 

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