Home Site Map Back

Bell's Weekly Messenger

London Ancestor logo

(No.1828, Sunday, April 10, 1831)

New Churches

Lord King presented a petition from the inhabitants of the parish of Clerkenwell, complaining of the conduct of the commissioners for the building of new churches persisting in inflicting another church upon them, when, as the petitioners held, it was totally unnecessary, as they had more than they wanted already. The petitioners represented that there were three churches in the parish already, for the seats of which they could not find occupants. In St. James's Church, Clerkenwell, there were 409 sittings unlet; in Pentonville Chapel, 203; and in St. John's, 150; making in all 762 sittings unlet in the parish, in which the commissioners were building a new church, and burdening the inhabitants to pay for it now and hereafter. There were between 1,700 and 1,800 names to the petition; and as a proof that the pariah was not in affluent circumstances, the petitioners alleged that 700 summonses had been issued to compel payment of poor-rates.

The Bishop of London said that there were 52,000 inhabitants in the parish of Clerkenwell, and as the commissioners were entrusted by Parliament with certain funds to provide for the spiritual wants of parishes according to their population, they thought they were doing no more than faithfully discharging their duty in providing a forth church for that parish. Whether the parish were dissatisfied or not he did not know. The dissatisfaction, however, he thought could not be very strong, when not long back, when funds were required for repairing and decorating St. James's Church, a sum of between 2,000l. and 3,0001. was instantly voted, being considerably beyond what he thought necessary. The commissioners did not think it their duty to look at any particular circumstances which might involve the churches badly attended. They merely looked to the spiritual wants of the parish, and provided for them. The preparations for the building of the church in question were publicly made, but no remonstrance arrived to him before the work had been begun, and it was then treated with the utmost attention and respect. He called upon their lordships to place confidence in the commissioners appointed by parliament for the discharge of a responsible and important duty.

Lord KENYON defended the conduct of the commissioners, of whom he was one. They were actuated solely by a desire to provide for the spiritual wants of the people. The whole church accommodation fur the parish of Clerkenwell extended to no more than 4,000 sittings, and the new church would only make an addition of l,200 sittings; and he was sure their lordships would not think accommodation to the extent of one-tenth of the population of the parish was too much.