Stoke Newington

A village to the north of London on the A10 to Cambridge was a stronghold of Dissent and became one of the earliest centres of Methodism in the 18th century. There was a dissenting academy at Newington Green which was attended by Daniel Defoe, Isaac Watts and the Wesleys' father Samuel Wesley. Watts spent the last sixteen years of his life at Abney House as the guest of Sir Thomas Abney, a City alderman and Director of the Bank of England. Although buried in Bunhill Fields, opposite City Road Chapel, Watts has a memorial, composed by Samuel Johnson, in the middle of the present cemetery, and William Booth is buried there.

Palatine House, a bow-fronted building on Palatine Avenue to the west of the High Street, was named after German Protestant refugees who settled there early in the 18th century. The home of the Greenwood family, it became one of John Wesley's favourite retreats, giving him leisure to rest and write. James Greenwood was one of the earliest members at the Foundery, and his son Charles, a London upholsterer, was one of the first Trustees at Wesley's Chapel.

Four Methodist churches have stood in succession on the site of the present one on Stoke Newington High Street. The first, opened in 1816, was an unpretentious brick building measuring 46ft by 30ft. By 1850 it was too small for the growing congregation and was replaced by a larger gothic revival building. (A notable member of this church was the Pre-Raphaelite artist James Smetham, who taught a Sunday School class there.) Badly damaged by Second World War bombing, this in turn was replaced in 1957 by a simple single-storey building, ornamented by a circular stained-glass window. The changing needs of the post-war decades led to its replacement in 2016 by a modern, light and airy building designed to be a hub of activity on the busy High Street, serving the needs of both the Methodist society and an increasingly multi-cultural local population. The original circular stained glass window has been retained as a feature in the new building.

  • Methodist Guide to London and the South-East (1991)
  • Methodist Recorder, 11 November 2016
  • Heritage News, Autumn 2017