Ship to shore: a church in Kensington

I HAVE PASSED IT innumerable times since I began living in the area (Kensington) almost 30 years ago. It has always intrigued me, but it has taken until now (March 2022) for me to decide to find out about it. I am referring to a small brick building located near Westbourne Grove on the south side of Chepstow Villas between Pembridge Place and Chepstow Place. Bearing a copper dome surmounted by a cross, it was built as a church. That much is obvious, but even its name has disappeared from its exterior.

A rapid search of the Internet has revealed that the building was constructed as The Kensington New Church. Although it looks much older, it was completed in 1925. It was affiliated to the General Conference of the New Church, which was founded in London in 1787 (https://kensingtonnewchurch.wordpress.com/). This branch of the Christian church is inspired by the theological concepts laid out by the Swedish scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). According to Wikipedia, in 1744, he had a divine revelation. It seems that he believed that Jesus Christ had given him the task of writing “The Heavenly Doctrine”, a work that was aimed at reforming Christianity. for more details, please refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg#Theology.

In about 2020, the Kensington New Church building ceased to belong to the General Conference. By September 2020, it had been purchased by a branch of the Greek Orthodox Church (http://pembridgeassociation.london/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/PA-Newsletter-Sept-20.pdf). Currently, it looks disused and is locked up. This is a pity because when it was built its walls were lined with walnut wood panelling from an interesting source. It was salvaged from the Cunard liner RMS Mauretania, when it was dismantled in 1935 (for details, see: https://kensingtonnewchurch.wordpress.com/the-building/the-mauretania-wood/). So, it can be seen that the panelling was literally ‘from ship to shore’. I hope that whatever happens to the former church will include the preservation of this souvenir of a liner, which in 1907, made the eastbound crossing of the Atlantic at record speed on its maiden voyage, earning it the Blue Riband award for highest average speed.  

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