~ Opening of Hanover Chapel
~ Baptism registers 1801-1854
~ Church Members, 1843
~ Other records relating to the Chapel
~ Marriages at the Chapel
The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, by Edward E. Cleal assisted by T. G. Crippen, pub. by James Clarke & Co., 1908, pp. 17-28 provides a history of Hanover Chapel from the building of the original Peckham meeting house in 1657, the removal to the site that was to become Hanover Chapel in 1717, the building of Hanover Chapel one hundred years later in 1817, and the celebration of the chapel's 250th anniversary on 14 April 1907.
The following notice appeared in the London Gazette, issue 19514, 27 June 1837, p. 1628:
NOTICE is hereby given, that a separate building, situated in High-street, Peckham in the parish of Saint Giles, Camberwell, in the county of Surrey, and called or known as Hanover Chapel, being a building certified according to law as a place of religious worship, was, on the 23d day of June 1837, duly registered for solemnizing marriages therein, pursuant to the Act of 6th and 7th William 4, chap. 85. Witness my hand the 24th day of June 1837, Tho. Webb Gilbert, Superintendent Registrar.
Collections Illustrative of the Geology, History, Antiquities, and Associations of Camberwell, and the Neighbourhood, by Douglas Allport, printed for the author, 1841, pp. 197-202 also provides a history of Hanover Chapel, tracing the line of Ministers from 1662 to Dr. Collyer’s ministry (pp. 197-201). The piece also describes the Chapel's two small endowments (pp. 201-202): "The first arises from a bequest made in 1737, by Mr. William Tomkins, of £400, to three trustees, of whom the minister for the time being is one. The interest is faithfully appropriated according to the original directions of the testator, to provide sermons annually on Christmas-day, Easter, and Whit Sundays, and the first of August; the overplus after providing a bottle of wine for the minister and assistants, at each service, is distributed in bread and meat to the poor inhabitants of the parish. The second bequest consists of £300 in the 3 per cent. consols, left by Mrs. Shank, to provide a Sermon annually on the 1st January, and furnish bread and other necessaries in winter to the poor of the neighbourhood". Back to top
The Times, Wednesday, 5 June, 1816, page 2
TO BUILDERS and CONTRACTORS.–The Rev. Dr. COLLYER’S CHAPEL. Peckham.–Any Person willing to CONTRACT with the Building Committee for the whole of the ARTIFICER’s WORK intended to be done in the enlargement of this Chapel, are requested to send written Proposals, sealed up, and addressed to Mr. John Fenn, Coffee-house, London; Commercial Sale Rooms, Coffee-house, Mincing-lane, on or before the 14th inst.; good and sufficient security will be required, as it is intended that the lowest Contractor shall erect and completely finish the building. The plans and specifications may be seen, by applying at the Chapel, from the 6th to the 14th instant, any day between the hours of ten and four, Sunday excepted. And as the Contractor is to have permission to use such of the materials of the present building as shall be approved by the Surveyor, he will be required to specify what value he is willing to allow for the whole, that the exact sum required for the completion of the works, agreeably to the plans exhibited, may be known. The Committee will admit of no deviations from the contract, nor will consider any Proposal, unless the whole name and address of the persons willing to contract is signed at the bottom of their proposals.–June 5, 1816. Back to top
Opening of Hanover Chapel
The preacher at the opening was William Jay of Bath. His son gives this account (Recollections of William Jay, of Bath: with occasional glances at some of his contemporaries and friends, by Cyrus Jay, pub. by Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1859, chap. 14, pp. 113-114): "Mr. Jay was invited by the late Dr. Collyer to preach at the opening of Hanover Chapel, Peckham. The attendance was very numerous, it being expected that two of the sons of George the Third would be present, Dr. Collyer being on most intimate terms with the Duke of Kent, the father of her present Majesty. His royal highness the Duke of Sussex attended, and kept the congregation waiting some time. Mr. Jay, who was always punctual in the commencing of divine service, was very much astonished at the managers of the chapel postponing it. He preached an excellent sermon; although several of his hearers were astonished at his boldness in alluding to noblemen and gentlemen assisting by their contributions in the erection of religious edifices into which, perhaps, they never entered; comparing them to the scaffolding, which, when the beautiful building is finished, is swept away. There was a sumptuous dinner given after the service, and a seat was reserved for Mr. Jay next the royal duke; but he, disliking public dinners, preferred dining quietly with two ladies at Denmark Hill. But Mr. Jay's son had his father's ticket, and sat next to his royal highness, who expressed great disappointment at Mr. Jay's absence; and who, after taking wine with him, alluded to the sermon in terms of great praise.
"I should mention, that after the service was over, Mr. Jay was introduced to the duke, who requested him to send him a complete set of his works, a requisition with which he cheerfully complied. The next morning Mr. Jay sent to his bookseller's for the works, which he forwarded to the duke with the following letter: " Sire,' when I had the honour of an interview with your royal highness, your royal highness was pleased to express the gracious willingness to possess that which I now present. It was an offering which I could not have had presumption enough to solicit, and it must be viewed as an instance of that condescension which, instead of detracting from greatness, adds grace to dignity. The sovereign providence of God, which allied your royal highness with majesty, caused the author to emerge from an obscure original, and denied him the facilities of early literature; but for the sentiments themselves the author makes no apology, being fully persuaded that he could preach them before kings, and not be ashamed." I took a copy of the letter before it was sent to Kensington Palace; but, having lost it, I quote from recollection. There were a few more sentences, which I have entirely forgotten. Mr. Jay received a most kind letter from his royal highness, requesting him to spend a day at Kensington Palace, and look over his valuable collection of Bibles." Back to top
In a letter to his children, the Rev. Jay gave this explanation of his reticence (The Autobiography of the Rev. William Jay, ed. by George Redford, D.D., LL.D., and John Angell James, pub. by Robert Carter & Bros., New York, 1855 vol. I, Letter XII, p. 126): "Thus when I had to preach before the Duke of Sussex, at the opening of Hanover Chapel, instead of dining with His Royal Highness and a large company previously to the service, I passed the time in retirement, and when I left it, to enter the pulpit, I felt no more than if I had been going to preach Christ in a poor-house. One of the papers of the day abused me, for the freedom of my address, but as I had never been accustomed to speak evil of dignities, so I was not likely to insult greatness to its face. The case was, retirement had awakened conscience, and conscience accompanied me in the pulpit, and bade me speak, " not as pleasing men but God who searches the heart," and with whom "there is no respect of persons." I never consider myself as chargeable with personal reflection, when I am conscious I should deliver the same things, from the same words, in any other place or to any other audience. But I could never (so modelled and governed are we by habit and circumstances) realize this frame in a town-hall or an assembly-room. There, notwithstanding the object of the meeting, it seemed to be a kind of civil proceeding; and I felt as only among men, whose presence and manner confounded me. The expectation of being called upon to propose or second some motion has crucified me in the prospect, for the whole preceding night; and it sometimes induced me to abstain from places, and assemblies, which I should otherwise have delighted to attend. I have felt also impressed with an invincible apprehension that I did not succeed when I made the attempt." Back to top
The Rev. Andrew Lynn, writing in 1829, described the chapel at Peckham as "an old-fashioned, comfortable structure" (Methodist Records: or, Selections from the Journal of the Rev. Andrew Lynn, designed to promote spiritual Christianity, ed. by John Stokoe, pub. by J. B. Cooke, 1858, book III, chap. 1, p. 371). Back to top
John Codman, in his A narrative of a visit to England (published by Perkins & Marvin in 1836, pp. 214-215) describes a visit to the chapel: "In the evening we accompanied our friends Mr. Sharp and his family to Peckham, to hear the Rev. Dr. Collyer … His chapel, which is one of the neatest and best furnished of any dissenting place I had seen in London, was well filled, though not crowded. A good organ, accompanied by a choir of singers, reminded me of home, (these assistants to devotion being seldom found in Dissenting places of worship.) … After sermon he read an original hymn, as I am told is his usual practice, founded upon the words of the text."
‘Notes on some Country Seats and Gardens in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent and Hertfordshire, from May to October, 1840’, by the ‘Conductor’ in The Gardener’s Magazine and Register of Rural and Domestic Improvement, ed. by John Claudius Loudon, pub. by Longman, Rees, Orome, Brown & Green, November 1840, vol. I, p. 583., noted: "In returning, we observed two frightful chapels ; the Hanover Chapel at Peckham, in the form of a pentagon, with small mean windows without facings, and red brick walls without cornices or any decoration whatever ; and another chapel nearer Camberwell … Chapels, in general, throughout the country, are at present a disgrace to it in an architectual point of view ; but it is to be hoped that the spread of knowledge and taste will raise them to a par with other religious buildings". Back to top
Douglas Allport, in Collections Illustrative of the Geology, History, Antiquities, and Associations of Camberwell, and the Neighbourhood, (1841), quotes a description of the dilapidated meeting house just prior to Dr. Collyer's ministry (p. 200): "A respected individual, who still occasionally worships at Hanover chapel, describes the appearance of the place ... as most disheartening ; the building itself had sunk into a state of dilapidation ; some of the gallery windows were broken, and an old shutter thrown up to keep out the wind, imparted to it an air of still deeper gloom. One old woman —"a sparrow alone upon the housetop"— occupied the gallery, whilst in the body of the place, not more than thirty or forty persons might be counted".
On pp. 202-203, Allport gives a description of the chapel that replaced the old meeting house: "Hanover chapel has externally few pretensions to notice : the ground plan approximates in form to a coffin : the situation is unfavourable; the entrances are exceedingly inconvenient, and the ventilation and lighting ill-contrived. It has internally, however, some claims to admiration; a fine organ, built at the cost of about £600, and a pulpit of unique design, aiding considerably in the general effect. A neat marble font, the gift of Dr. Collyer, stands at the foot of the pulpit stairs. The monotony of the walls is broken by a variety of monumental tablets, none of them, however, remarkable for peculiar elegance of design. The building has galleries completely surrounding it, with raised seats beside the organ, for the Sunday scholars, recently erected at a cost of about seventy pounds. It will accommodate 1,200 persons". Back to top
The following notice appeared in the London Gazette, issue 27619, 24 November 1903, p. 7471:
"NOTICE is hereby given, that application is intended to be made to Parliament in the ensuing Session by the London, Camberwell, and Dulwich Tramways Company (hereinafter called "the Company") for an Act for all or some of the following among other purposes (that is to say) :—
To de-fine the widening of Rye-lane, Peckham, in the parish and metropolitan borough of Camberwell, in the county of London, mentioned or referred to in section 5 of the Act 48 and 49 Vict., cap. CXCIX, and in section 6 of the Act 50 and 51 Vict, cap. CLXXXIII, and for that purpose to enable the Company to acquire by compulsion all or some of the lands (in which term houses and buildings are included) in the said parish and metropolitan borough hereinafter set forth (that is to say) :—
Certain lands situate on the western side of Rye-lane and the southern side of High-street, Peckham, forming part of the buildings known as Hanover Chapel, and the approaches thereto ..."
The Times, issue 39276, 19 May 1910, p. 3:
HANOVER CHAPEL, PECKHAM. –The trustees of Hanover Chapel, Peckham, have sold the building and the freehold, and it is proposed to erect a number of shops on the site, one of the most central in Peckham, at the corner of Rye-lane and the High-street. The Independent cause was founded here by the Rev. John Maynard, the ejected minister of St. Giles’s, Camberwell, at the Restoration, and it is recorded that his meeting was broken up by order of Charles II. in 1665. Among the noted pastors was the Rev. Samuel Chandler, D.D., who was bookseller at a shop in the Poultry in addition to performing his pastoral duties, and who for 40 years was minister to the congregation worshipping at the Old Jewry. Oliver Goldsmith was usher at a school kept by Dr. John Milner, another pastor, in 1751-4, and the house in which he dwelt was long known as Goldsmith House, and was pulled down in 1876. For 53 years the Rev. W. B. Collyer, D.D., was the pastor, being appointed in 1801, when only 18 years of age, and so successful was his preaching it was found necessary to erect the present chapel at a cost of £3,000. The Duke of Sussex, uncle of Queen Victoria, was present at the opening service in 1816, and gave the organ which is at present to use. The building was named Hanover Chapel in honour of the House of Hanover. The trustees intend to build another chapel in the district.
The Times , issue 39384, 22 September, 1910, p. 7:
The British Weekly announces that Mr. Lloyd George has promised to address a "farewell" meeting in October at the Hanover Chapel, Peckham, which is to be demolished. Back to top