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St George’s is the oldest surviving German Church in the British Isles, opened in 1762. 

German speakers – mostly religious refugees from the German speaking lands not yet united as modern Germany – ran most of the sugar refining industry in London and this was based in the area around Aldgate, where St George’s church is sited. 

Today only the church and its former school adjacent are left to remind us of this huge refugee population in an area once called ‘Little Germany’. The history of this part of London is one of successive waves of immigration: Huguenots, German speakers, Jews, Bangladeshis. Today the German episode in this story is far less known even though Aldgate and Whitechapel was home to the largest German speaking population outside the German lands for over a century.

Project; Survey of London – Whitechapel. Site; St George’s German Lutheran Church, Alie Street, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets, London. Exterior, view from south.

St George’s dates from 1762–3 and is now the oldest German church in Britain. It served as a religious centre for generations of German immigrants who worked in the East End sugar refineries and in the meat and baking trades right up until the First World War. The area around Aldgate was known as ‘Little Germany’ and for much of the 19th century was  the largest concentration of German-speaking people outside the German homelands.

Inside, the church retains remarkable furnishings, including a complete set of box pews and fine, central double-decker pulpit. At the ‘east end’ hangs the coat-of-arms of King George III (pre-1801) and two carved timber commandment boards in German. The Royal Arms, adopted by the congregation as a mark of loyalty, recall a connection with the Duchess of Kent, mother of Queen Victoria, who was patron of the adjacent German and English schools from 1819. There are 18th and l9th-century memorials, many in German, and a fine German Walcker organ.

During the Nazi period in Germany, St George’s pastor, Julius Rieger,  worked strenuously to assist  Protestant Christians of Jewish descent (and therefore deemed to be Jewish and persecuted by the Nazi regime) to flee to England. Led by Julius Rieger, St George’s also provided a spiritual home and much needed ongoing practical support to Protestant refugees already in the country. Fortunately correspondence survives in several archives and the full extent of Pastor Rieger’s work is now being recorded by a London based Phd student. The leading theologian and anti-Nazi activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer was also associated with the work of St George’s when Bonhoeffer was pastor at the nearby St Paul’s church from 1933 to 1935. The former congregation marked the centenary of Bonhoeffer’s birth with a special service in 2006.

The Church is a Grade II* listed building and was acquired by HCT in 1999. 

HCT tackled its long-standing disrepair and serious structural problems discretely, so that most people are surprised that nearly £1m of restoration work was carried out. Works were generously funded by Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

You can download a short guide to St George’s here.

GETTING THERE

St George’s German Lutheran Church is 3 minutes from Aldgate East Underground and 5 minutes from Aldgate Underground.  Many bus routes pass nearby. Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street rail stations are both a 10 minute walk.

There are two steps into the Church. A ramp is available for wheelchair access to ground floor. There is no lift to the gallery and organ on first floor. Parking in neighbouring streets is severely restricted, including Sundays, so public transport is recommended.

IN THE AREA

There are nearby places of worship connected with immigration to central and East London including Bevis Marks Synagogue the oldest surviving synagogue in the UK which is open for visits at certain times, Sandys Row Synagogue which can arrange guided tours for groups and which occupies a building formerly a Huguenot chapel. East London Mosque is a short walk away. So too is Christ Church Spitalfields an internationally celebrated building by Nicholas Hawksmoor, built for the Church of England, partly in reaction to the nonconformism and religious dissent of East London.

55 Alie Street
Aldgate
London
E1 8EB
United Kingdom

St George’s is open by arrangementfor group visits and with notice we try to provide a volunteer speaker to talk about the building.

Check the HCT Events page for upcoming activities, or visit the St. George’s website.

St George’s is registered for religious marriages in the German Lutheran tradition and the service can be conducted in German or English at the couple’s choice. To enquire about getting married at St Georges please contact us.

Family history records of the congregation have been deposited for conservation and safe-keeping at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Walpole Chapel was created from two domestic buildings in the late 17th century.  The galleried and box-pewed interior vividly conveys the setting of 17th and 18th century dissenting worship. Much of the interior is wood and there are not too many right angles in this much evolved building. The atmosphere is both peaceful and powerful.

Suffolk Puritans transformed this pair of timber framed 16th century farmhouses into a simple but dramatic religious building, radically different from the established churches from which they had broken away. It is an interior designed for nonconformist worship without ceremonial. All was straightforward and simple. They took out ceilings, widened the roof span and supported it with lofty wooden columns (one of them a re-purposed ships mast). From the discarded timbers they built pews and galleries for two hundred people, the sightlines converging on the central canopied pulpit.

Outside is a grassy burial ground, now closed for burials, with many low headstones and over 40 species of wild flower. The grass is left uncut in Spring and early summer to encourage them.

A quick guide to Walpole Chapel can be downloaded here.

The conversion of the two 16th century buildings into one space was achieved by removing walls, creating a wonderful space, but resulting in an inherently unstable structure.

HCT has undertaken a programme of discrete structural repairs at Walpole to enable the chapel’s use for concerts and other events during the year. The historic paint scheme has been restored but changes have been kept to a minimum.

The next project for the Friends group is to raise money to have the exterior of the chapel re-rendered. Due to past repairs that have included the use of concreted, the building is prone to the retention of moisture which is affecting the walls.Walpole Old Chapel website

Visiting

Grid Reference TM 373752

The Chapel is open from May to the end of September on Saturdays only between 2pm and 4.30 pm. If you would like to visit outside these hours, please contact our volunteer keyholder to arrange access for your visit.

Getting there

Halesworth railway station is about 5 miles away, from there a taxi is needed. 

If you are travelling by car: from Halesworth follow the B1117 signs towards  Stradbroke/Laxfield. As you enter the start of Walpole you will see the Chapel on the right hand side, approximately 20 yards after the red phone box.

There is limited car parking opposite, none on site.  There is a detached WC.
 

In the area

Halesworth is 5 miles from Walpole Old Chapel, a trail guides you round this historic town. The local countryside is perfect for walkers and cyclists and the Suffolk Heritage Coast is just 10 miles from Halesworth.

East Suffolk line walks – the stations along the line provide a perfect starting point for short or long walks in the beautiful Suffolk countryside; you can download a pdf guide to the walks hereWalpole Old Chapel website

Halesworth Road
Walpole
Nr Halesworth
IP19 9AZ
United Kingdom

The Chapel is open from May to the end of September on Saturdays between 2pm and 4.30 pm. For group visits at other times please contact our volunteer keyholder to arrange access

Walpole Old Chapel has seating for 200; it has toilets, including for the disabled.

The Chapel is available for baptisms, weddings, blessings.  It can also be hired for events such as poetry readings, exhibitions, meetings and location filming. You can find more information on the chapel’s website.

Volunteers to assist with the day to day organisation and guiding at the Chapel are always most welcome.  If you would be interested in becoming a volunteer please do contact us.

Penrose is one of the many small village chapels that once dotted the Cornish landscape. It dates from 1861, and is one of only six chapels in Cornwall that still has its original box pews.

Penrose is one of the many small village chapels that once dotted the Cornish landscape. It dates from 1861 and is constructed of local slate.

The interior is virtually unaltered with plain plastered walls and twelve-paned windows on either side of the central door. The rostrum has turned balusters with a panelled enclosure in front rimmed by benches facing inwards. These once formed a meeting area. Penrose is one of only six small chapels in Cornwall retaining its complete set of box pews.

Methodism, with its open, non-hierarchical approach, took firm root in Cornwall from the late 18th century on and was strong among both mining and farming communities of the County. Penrose was designed for preaching and hymn singing in a small community and only seats about 35. Today chapels like this are increasingly rare, not least because many have converted readily to holiday homes. With its intact interior fittings, Penrose is therefore a lucky survivor – and a little gem that evokes the straightforward spirituality that once guided the community.

Download a Quick Guide to Penrose Chapel here.

The chapel has been restored by Historic Chapels Trust with grants from foundations and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Local volunteers help us look after it.

A new 14-page Guide with oral history records of those who worshipped here is available for £5.00 inc. postage. Cheques payable to “Historic Chapels Trust” should be sent to Historic Chapels Trust, c/o The CCT, 8 All Saints Street, London. NR1 9RL

Getting There

The chapel is on the main street of Penrose,  4 miles south of Padstow, between Porthcorthan and St Ervan. On-street parking nearby. Nearest railway station Bodmin Parkway (12 miles).

There are no toilet facilities on site.

Nearby

Padstow is North Cornwall’s premier resort and one of the county’s best kept secrets. It has celebrated restaurants, beaches and weekend hideaways. The North Cornwall coast is one of the most beautiful in Britain. Wesley Cottage at Trewint near Launceston is where John Wesley preached and rested.

Penrose
St Ervan
PL27 7TB
United Kingdom

Contact the local keyholder to visit Tel: (01841)  540 -737

Penrose Chapel is registered for Methodist marriages. To find out more contact us using the form opposite.

If you would like to hire the chapel for readings, a concert or meetings please enquire through the contact us page.

Biddlestone Chapel is one of the North East’s smaller architectural treasures and is HCT’s most remotely sited chapel. It was built in 1820 on top of the remains of a 14th-century pele, or fortified tower, high up in the Cheviot foothills.

The pele was one of many along the English-Scottish border from which signal fires were lit. The chapel is listed Grade II* and, because of its pele tower foundations, is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

A local volunteer committee supports HCT in its efforts to make the chapel accessible for events, weddings and services. A National Park footpath runs right beside the chapel.

Most remotely sited of HCT’s chapels, Biddlestone stands in the beautiful southern slopes of the Cheviot Hills within Northumberland National Park. It was once a private chapel adjoining Biddlestone Hall, the demolished home of the Selby family. The Selbys established themselves at Biddlestone and as staunch recusants, refusing to become members of the Church of England after the Reformation. They were supporters of the Jacobite cause – a dangerous affiliation that risked charges of treason. The Selbys maintained a Catholic chaplaincy at their own expense; for many years the chaplaincy was clandestine. Scars on the west wall of the chapel indicate the site of the demolished Hall where the chapel was attached.

The chapel was built was on top of the remains of a medieval pele tower, that almost certainly dates from the late 14th century. Medieval rubble-stone survives to eaves height on the north side and there is a thick-walled, barrel-vaulted undercroft below.  It is listed Grade II* and, because of its ancient foundations, is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

In about 1820 when the Selbys were rebuilding Biddlestone Hall they repaired the remains of the tower and constructed the chapel over the undercroft. The chapel is furnished in mid-Victorian Gothic Revival manner, with a three-light east window containing stained glass, which dates from 1862. In the gallery is stained glass displaying Selby heraldry. A corrugated iron bomb shelter in the undercroft, of WWII vintage, completes the story of this fascinating little building.

You can download a short guide to Biddlestone Chapel here.

Since ownership of the chapel passed to the Historic Chapels Trust in 2008 a programme of repairs and upgrading was completed to enable public access.

A local volunteer committee supports HCT in its efforts to make the chapel accessible, puts on events and there are Open Days in summer. HCT’s volunteers can show round groups of visitors by prior arrangement.

HCT’s work at Biddlestone is informed by a Conservation Statement which can be downloaded free here.

You can download a short guide to Biddlestone Chapelhere.

Directions

OS Grid reference: NT955084

The chapel is on high ground NE of Biddlestone Village. There is a sign for the chapel on the road through the village. Unless the gate is open, please park near this sign and walk from there – past the eponymous Biddle Stones of unclear date and origin – to the chapel (6 minutes).

Northumberland National Park Public footpath 139/006 passes directly beside the chapel and runs from Biddlestone village to Biddlestone Home Farm. Please beware of the steep drop just north of the chapel, above the waterfalls.

Getting here

Alnmouth rail station is 20 miles away. There is no bus service nearby.

In the area

Many of Biddlestone’s visitors are walkers enjoying the Northumberland National Park, public footpath 139/006, which passes beside the chapel. You can find walking maps on the National Park’s website or you can opt for guided walks.  There are also long distance cycleways across the park as well as watersports, climbing and plenty of historic sites to visit.

The Chapel has to be kept locked so to visit contact the volunteer keyholders: (01665) 574420 and (01669) 630270 or use the form to contact us.

Biddlestone Village
Nr Netherton
NE65 7DT
United Kingdom

The annual candle-lit Advent Carol Service (there is no electricity) sees the chapel full of adventurous people who make their way through the mountain darkness to attend. 

The chapel seats about 50 and can be used as a venue for intimate concerts, as well as blessings and memorial services.

The chapel is registered for Roman Catholic weddings and is a most romantic place to be married.  If you would like more information please contact us using the contact form opposite.

Todmorden Unitarian Church is Grade I Listed. It is a beautiful, characterful and much-loved building full of quirky features and secret places, managing to be both grand and imposing, and warm and welcoming at the same time.

You can download a short guide to Todmorden Church here, and a focus on ‘Honest’ John Fielden MP, to whom the church is a memorial, here.

Todmorden Unitarian Church, was built in 1864-9 by sons of ‘Honest’ John Fielden MP, a mill-owner and radical who was responsible for the ‘Ten Hours Act’ of 1847 that limited working hours of women and children. The Unitarian Movement originated in Todmorden and Fielden was a leading member.

John Gibson, who worked with Charles Barry on the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, designed the church. Among its important features are its alignment (south-west), its rose and 5-light chancel windows, the 59m, 3-stage octagonal tower and its lavish decorative scheme which survives largely intact.  

Pevsner states that it “survives complete as one of the most elaborate Non-Conformist churches to adopt the style and arrangements of the Established Church during the High Gothic Revival”.  Christopher Stell, a national authority on Nonconformist architecture, wrote: “as an example of High Victorian church architecture, this bears comparison with some of the best buildings of the Established Church; as representing the Nonconformist architecture of its period, it is unrivalled”.

You can download a short guide to Todmorden Church here.

Since HCT acquired the Grade I listed Todmorden Church in 1994 over £1m of restoration work has been completed, but there is much still to do. The restoration work was made possible thanks to generous grants from Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, several grant giving trusts as well as many private individuals. The work has included:

  • Repairs to roof, the 59m spire and the chancel
  • Conservation of the stained glass, which was designed by Jean-Baptiste Capronnier (1814-1891)
  • Restoring the derelict lodge
  • New heating system, WCs and small kitchen.

In 2014, thanks to a generous legacy from a former bell-ringer the ring of bells was also restored.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

Todmorden Town Hall – Situated in the centre of Todmorden, this impressive Town Hall is considered one of the best municipal buildings in the country, paid for by John Fielden MP.

Stoodley Pike is a 1,300-foot (400 m) hill in the south Pennines, noted for the 121 feet (37 m) Stoodley Pike Monument at its summit, which dominates the moors above Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.

HCT owns two other buildings nearby: Wainsgate Chapel which is a few miles away above Hebden Bridge, and Farfield Quaker Meeting House, which is in Addingham about 20 miiles away.  You could also take in the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth, which is on the way to Addingham and well worth a visit.

Please use the Contact Us form, or visit Todmorden Unitarian Church’s website.

The Chapel was built at the beginning of the 18th century, several decades after the Act of Toleration, which gave freedom of worship to Nonconformists.   In 1756 it was rebuilt as it stands today, with further major renovations in 1859 when the table pew, under which lies a full-immersion baptismal font, was added.  The burial ground has some important headstones including a memorial to John Williams, which predates the 1756 rebuilding of the chapel.

Cote Chapel is Grade II*, one of only 29 Grade II* Baptist chapels in England.

The site of Cote Chapel was acquired in 1703–1704 by a group of worshippers who previously met at Longworth on the other side of the Thames.

In the 1750s the chapel was enlarged, or more probably rebuilt, to its present size, the capacity being increased in 1756 by the addition of a gallery. In 1859 the interior furnishings were moved around, the pulpit was removed from the south to the west wall, and ample seating was provided in box pews.

The chapel has stone walls with pitched roofs covered in the local stone slate. The truncated front gable incorporates a screen wall which crosses the central valley and is surmounted by a stone panel. In the burial ground are many 18th-century intricately carved headstones. The monument to the Williamson family is listed grade II.

A local volunteer committee helps HCT care for the buildings, welcome visitors and organise events.  They are also local advocates for the chapel. 

You can download a short guide to Cote Chapel here.

A fully illustrated guide and history of Cote Baptist Chapel written by Dr. Kate Tiller is available from HCT for £6 post free (cheques payable to ‘HCT’) or at the chapel.

Cote was transferred to the Historic Chapels Trust in 1994. HCT raised funds for major structural repairs, which included the provision of a new kitchen, two WCs and a committee room in a former outbuilding.

There is always much work to do. Currently we are carrying out repairs to more sections of the drystone boundary wall.  Our next priority, for which we are now fundraising, is further repair to the roof and the repair and redecoration the chapel’s woodwork.

If you would like to support our work to restore and maintain Cote Chapel please do contact us via this website.

Cote Chapel is still available for occasional worship, as well as for marriages, baptisms, funerals and other events such as Harvest Festivals. It is also used for quiet contemplation by many regular visitors and has hosted concerts and lectures. The committee room and the detached building are also available for meetings.

By Car: When entering Cote from  Aston, turn right at the cross roads. Cote Baptist Chapel is 200 metres from the junction. Park on the verges but please take care not to block access for our neighbours and heavy lorries that pass regularly.

Public transport:  Oxford railway station is 20 miles from Cote and has a taxi rank. Unfortunately the Oxford – Cote bus service was discontinued in 2016.

For all enquiries about Cote Baptist Chapel please use the Contact Us form.