RISE AND PROGRESS OF WESLEYAN METHODISM
IN THE BRIXTON-HILL CIRCUIT.
Churches like rivers often take their rise further back thacasual observers surmise, and not infrequently have what mabe termed (in pursuance of the analogy) a subterranean coursand are lost to sight for a time, only to burst forth with greatevolume and power at a later stage.
The church at Brixton Hill had a very humble birth. Icommenced its career in a cottage, numbered 21, but subsquently 417, Coldharbour Lane, in the year 1822. The firrecord of its existence appears in the Circuit Book of Southwark (Long Lane) in the brief entry, Jan. 1823: “Contributioto Quarter Board, I5S. sd.”
The Rev. John Stephens was the first superintendent ministeat Southwark in 1822, and became the foster father of the causat Brixton, watching and tending it for several years.
Hultimately settled as a supernumerary minister at Brixton Hilin Somers Road, and died there in 1841. He is recorded thave said before his death, ” I mean to die clean ; I will take bath for my body, as I have for my soul in the fountain which opened for sin and uncleanness.”
No date can be found when the worshippers quitted thcottage, but probably they were there about a year. They theaspired to a position near the summit of Brixton Hill, and toopossession of a small building fitted up as a temporary chapewhere they remained about three years. It was approachefrom Upper Tulse Hill Road at the existing back entrance tStreatham Lodge and Avenue Lodge. The building stood ithe back garden of the latter at the east end, and on the we112
side of what was Mr. Dove’s granary. The two walls are close
together, the old chapel wall forming the back wall of the garden
to Avenue Lodge.
The documents in the circuit safe shew that in 1826 the
half of the present site nearest to Endymion Road was procured
by the Rev. John Stephens, then superintendent minister at
City Road. This building scheme commenced doubtless at
an earlier date whilst Mr. Stephens was at Southwark. The
tenure was only copyhold, but the property was enfranchised
thirty years later, when the whole of the site bounded by the
Elm-Park Road was secured.
The first chapel on the present site was built in 1826, and
was attached to the Southwark Circuit. The ministers were
Richard Reece, John Knowles, Thomas Rowland, and Richard
Comparatively little is now known of the life and service
rendered by the members (only forty in number) of this little
church, except that they were very zealous, holding open-air
meetings in Windmill Street (then so called ; now known as
Cornwall Road), and at other places in the neighbourhood, as
far northward as Kennington Common, and at West Norwood
to the south east.
Once in these early days of its history, the Rev. John
Knowles came to preach, and, as was his wont, arrived early in
order to take a rest before the service commenced. He had
seated himself on a free seat just inside the door when the old
lady who officiated as chapel-keeper approached and saluted
him with ” Good morning, sir, where do you usually attend?”
“First one place and then another,” he replied; when the old
lady added, “I would not give a fig for your religion then.”
There was no response, but at the proper time the gentleman
rose and made his way into the pulpit. The old lady had been
deceived by appearances, for, like Dr. Adam Clarke, Mr.
Knowles eschewed a black-cloth coat and wore a blue one with
brass buttons and knee-breeches, a red Indian silk handkerchief
covering his head while he rested on the free seat. The poor
old lady had a bad time that Sunday morning, and when the
service was over hastened into the vestry to apologise.
The King of Sardinia was occupied in 1871 by:
1871/William Carman/Licensed Victualler/51/Banbury Oxfordshire/Census ***
1871/Elizabeth Carman/Wife/55/Sudbury Suffolk/Census
1871/Sarah Hurley/Visitor/26/Kensington Middlesex/Census
1972 King of Sardinia used by artist Mario Merz
Merredene does not appear on this map from 1870 and there is no mention of Merredene street here for 1871:
Census records for 1891:
Merredene Street Coronation Party – 7 June 1953.