Lee High Road Bible Christian chapel

Lee High Road Bible Christian chapel
Bible Christian Magazine 1882
Lee High Road former Bible Christian chapel
Keith Guyler, 1986
Lee High Road

Lee High Road chapel was designed by William Theobalds in 1882 and is unusual in that the architect’s drawing was published in the Bible Christian Magazine.

The building was situated in a good locality and in a prominent position. “It was thought desirable to erect such a structure as shall compare favourably with other Non-conformist places of worship in the neighbourhood, and prove a credit to our denomination”

The building is in the Early Gothic style of architecture, with an 80ft tower and spire at the south-east angle. It was described as having four lofty doorways, with a large five-lighted traceried window fitted with tinted glass. Inside it was designed to have a spacious lobby, chapel, galleries and stewards’ and ministers’ vestries. The ministers were treated to a lavatory and offices. The stewards apparently were not accommodated in this way. The Building was to be heated with hot air. There was to be seating for between five and six hundred.

It was hoped to lay the memorial stones on 1st November, 1882 with completion within nine months. In reality it was on Sunday 13th April 1884 that the building was opened. In the end it could seat 550 adults, with a further 50 seats for children either side of a platform designed for eight or ten speakers. The building had been erected without the slightest accident to any of the workmen, for which the Rev. T.G. Vanstone returned thanks. We are told that ‘Hymns appropriate to the occasion were sung, the choir rendering with good effect the anthem “Cry out and shout.”

As with most chapels, the seating was reduced with time (or Methodists increased in bodily size). In 1940 it was thought to seat 450, and thirty years later, 330.

There were two religious censuses in London in Victorian and Edwardian times. On 24th October 1886 it was recorded that the morning congregation was 175, with an evening congregation of 104. At some point during early 1903 the numbers at the morning and evening services were similar, 130 (including 54 children) in the morning and 133 (16 children) in the evening. Even at the height of churchgoing, a ‘normal’ service would only a quarter fill the building.

The chapel closed in 1977, but was acquired by The New Testament Church of God. They continue to worship in the building, and have painted the front a suitably dazzling white. Go to their website if you are interested in the current use of the building.

Please get in touch with us if you can tell us anything about this church as a Methodist place of worship. If yoiu can supply a modern photograph, that would also be appreciated.

The Bible Christian Magazine 1882, Vol. 61,  pp526-527

The Bible Christian Magazine 1884, Vol. 63,  p231

The Religious census of London. Hodder and Stoughton, 1888

The Religious life of London. Hodder and Stoughton, 1904

The Methodist Church, Department of Chapel Affairs. Statistical returns 1940

The Methodist Church, Department of Chapel Affairs. Statistical returns part 1, 1972

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