In 1741 the followers of George Whitefield put up a wooden structure not far to the north of Wesley's London headquarters, the Foundery. Whitefield agreed to this with some reluctance, but emphasized its temporary nature by calling it 'the Tabernacle', the name of the tent which housed the Ark of the Covenant during the Israelites' nomadic years after the Exodus. Despite this, it was replaced by a larger brick building in 1753, which survived until replaced in its turn by a Congregational chapel in 1869.

A second Whitefieldite chapel, on the west side of Tottenham Court Road, was opened in 1756 and was also known as the Tabernacle. This was replaced by the Whitefield Memorial Chapel in 1899, which in its turn was destroyed by bombing in World War II and replaced by the American Church in London.

On Sunday, 18 November 1770 John Wesley preached his memorial sermon on Whitefield in the morning at the Tottenham Court Road chapel and in the afternoon at the Moorfields Tabernacle.

The name 'Tabernacle' was appropriated by other chapels built either by Whitefield's followers or by Lady Huntingdon, in Plymouth, Bristol and Portsmouth, and by the followers of James Wheatley in Norwich.