Michael Powell


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People & Stories - Paper 4

Extending the Community (2)

FROM ‘THE CONGREGATIONAL TWO HUNDRED 1530-1948’               



Building business and professional connections

Building-related philanthropy and public service

Church and church-related building projects


Overseas mission projects




The purpose of this paper is to extend the concept of ‘Building – a community’ opened up in Papers 4, 4A, 4B and 4C by looking into Congregationalism in the period up to1948.

The source of material is:

 Peel, Albert (1948) The Congregational Two Hundred 1530-1948 London: The Independent Press Limited

Peel’s text is a fore-runner of Taylor and Binfield’s ‘Who they were in the Reformed Churches of England and Wales 1901-2000’, the basis of my Paper 4A. There is some overlap.

The most interesting difference between the compilations is that Peel, unlike Taylor and Binfield, includes Scottish and American Congregationalism as well as that of England and Wales .

Reflecting on his own compilation, Peel says:

Congregationalism, these biographies make clear, has gripped men of every type and calling. Preachers and teachers..... men of action..... men of business...... social reformers. A denomination which can give the world, at the same time, a President of the United States and a Speaker of the House of Commons has still a contribution to make to the life of the world. Its catholicity shines forth in a survey of this kind, and Congregationalists can take pride in the contribution they have made to the world in dedicated men and women.

(Peel p21)

In this Paper I have drawn out from Peel’s work some of the details of contributions made in the particular field of building and built environment, categorising them under the following headings:

  1. Building business and professional connections                               4    
  2. Building-related philanthropy and public service                                9    
  3. Church and church-related building projects                                      17
  4. America                                                                                                  10
  5. Overseas missions                                                                                  1

Some general observations follow the detailed sections.


Building business and professional connections

Peel gives information on three people – Williams, Martin and Parker – all of whom had a family background  and went on to become Congregational ministers. One hopes they did not forget their early experiences. The fourth in this group is Sir Halley Stewart who became head of the London Brick Company and Forder’s brickmakers.


William Williams                     1781-1840      

Son of small farmer and carpenter; abandoned his trade for preaching.  


Samuel Martin                       1817-1878      

Trained as an architect; became the minister for whom Westminster Chapel was built


Joseph Parker                      1830-1902      

Father a stonemason;            the minister for whom the City Temple in London was newly built in 1874


Halley Stewart                       1838-1937      

Chairman of London Brick Company and Forders; lay pastor in Hastings ; politically committed to ‘land for the people’ and against heredity


Building-related philanthropy and public service

This group contains nine names. While Salt and Lever were concerned with major town development, others were associated with a range of more specific public and community buildings.


Titus Salt                   1803-1876

Developed the new model manufacturing town of Saltaire


William H Lever         1851-1925

Developed Port Sunlight and bought many houses, taking great interest in their adaptation and in the laying out of their gardens


Philip Dodderidge    1702-1751

Helped found a county infirmary in Northampton where he was minister


John Howard             1726-1790

Was instrumental in prison and sanitation reform, and hospitals


Andrew Reed            1787-1862

Was associated with the London Orphan Asylum and Infant Orphan Asylum


John Rylands            1801-1888

Created orphanages, almshouses etc plus most notably the John Rylands Library building in Manchester


Francis Crossley       1817-1872

Associated with almshouses, the public park, and an orphanage in Halifax


George Williams       1821-1905

Was associated with the YMCA, Exeter Hall and, after his death, the new Tottenham Court Road building


J Henry Whitley         1866-1934

Built a gymnasium and boys camp in Filey and became Speaker of the Commons


Church and church-related building projects

The first two names in this group – Brewster and Bunyan – remind us that Congregational churches originated in houses and barns. The main sub-group of eleven are concerned with church developments, either singly or in substantial groups. The third sub-group - Williams, Jowett and Hardie – are included because of their association with significant events.


William Brewster       1560?-1644    

Hosted a congregation at Scrooby Manor House


John Bunyan             1628-1688      

Preached to a church meeting in a barn in Bedford in barn prior to 1707


Rowland Hill              1744-1833      

Two chapels were built for him to preach in, Wotton, Glos and Surrey Chapel, London


Robert Haldane                1764-1842    ) £70000 investments
and                                                            ) in Scotland for
James A Haldane             1768-1851    ) tabernacles and academies


Thomas Wilson         1764-1843      

Involved in Chapel building and Hoxton Academy

Believed that ‘The use of money is all the advantage there is in having it’


Joshua Wilson           1795-1874      

Involved in building Congregational Memorial Hall in London, and the Tunbridge Wells church


William Roby              1766-1830      

New chapel at Grosvenor Street , Manchester


John A James            1785-1859      

Re-built Carr’s Lane Birmingham


Thomas Raffles         1788-1863      

Liverpool chapel destroyed by fire but quickly re-built


Samuel Morley          1809-1886      

‘Erected benevolence into a business’, contributing to cost of Memorial Hall and various chapels


James B Brown         1820-1884      

New and larger church building in Brixton Road


Robert F Horton       1855-1934      

Iron church in Hampstead, new building in Lyndhurst Road


Arthur A Haworth      1865-1944      

For Manchester Board, down-town churches modernised, two great institutional churches started in Salford and Hulme, four churches in new areas and Milton Hall headquarters for Congregationalism in Manchester


John C Williams        1821-1907      

1898 Marriages Act allowing nonconformists to appoint registrars for their own buildings


John H Jowett           1863-1923      

First Nonconformist since the Commonwealth to preach in a cathedral


J Keir Hardie             1856-1915      

Believed that the burning of all church buildings would be ‘an act of sweet savour in the sight of Him whose name is supposed to be worshipped within their walls’.  



The first in this group – Hillis – although not a professional town planner, was a lay pioneer of town planning. The next five – Eliot, Whitman, Gladden, Armstrong and Jane Addams – were concerned with community building of various kinds. The next sub-group of three – Carver, Hopkins and Finney – represent the early house church and subsequent formal churches. Finally, Coolidge’s life journey is seen as one from the log cabin to the White House.


Newell D Hillis           1858-1929      

‘An early town planner with ideas about the city beautiful’.  Added stained glass windows at Plymouth Church Institute, NY


John Eliot                  1604-1690      

Settlements and townships for Indians


Marcus Whitman       1802-1847      

Instruction to Indians in irrigation, provision of houses


Washington Gladden  1836-1918   

Civic matters including government ownership of public utilities


Samuel C Armstrong1839-1893      

Hampton National and Industrial Institute first buildings


Jane Addams             1860-1935      

Developed ‘the finest aggregation of buildings devoted to working class education and recreation in the US


John Carver              1576?-1621    

Hosted a congregation at the Great House, Leyden , before leaving for the US .


Samuel Hopkins        1721-1803      

Parsonage burned and church in ruins in Newport RI


Charles G Finney      1792-1875      

Broadway Chapel NY built for him


Calvin Coolidge        1872-1933      

His career was of the ‘log cabin to White House’ type


Overseas Mission Projects 

There is just one name in this group.  

Robert A Hume         1847-1929      

India – many schools and churches built



This small survey illustrates the general point that wherever human beings go and whatever they do, if it is for any length of time, they will usually build. Sometimes their structures are simply for protection, sometimes to be symbols, and sometimes to enable community service of various kinds to take place. Congregationalists are simply part of this human activity.

But it does run deeper. These are people whose motivations and interests were, given their times and places, very much the same as our own. They are our fellow church members, involved in our part of the world church’s ‘communion of saints’. That is encouraging and gives a specific, concrete (sometimes literally) nuance to our Christian identity in the world of building and buildings.



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