Thursday 24 April 2008

Outdoor preaching in Kilburn...

It's been a while since I blogged on ye olde history of Kilburn and have been meaning for follow up this particular thread - the outdoor preaching of Kilburn Vale and links to religious fervour down the years.

This site has talked about the development of the priory and it's subsequent demolition during the disolution of the monasteries.

Well I wondered about how these 'locations' remained religious over the years? The same principle/approach applies for post pagan England - there is considerable evidence that generally celtic religious sites became Roman ones and they in turn became Christian and so it continued in use.

So what happened in Kilburn after the fall of the priory and in the development of what we now see as the thriving Kilburn High Road?

Well, the strategic significance of the crossing of the Westbourne river remained - we have hermit place, the pubs (at least The Cock and the Red Lion and probably others) and the arterary road (old Watling Street) increasingly known as Edgware Road.

All the evidence points to Kilburn and in particular this point of the Kilburn High Road was a crucial staging post for travellers heading north.

Well I think an insight into what was happening in Kilburn is revealed by this old church hall (picture above) in Kilburn Vale - just opposite Hermit Place and near The Priory Tavern.

You can see the plaque on the left of the building on which is written

"Ebenezer Chapel was erected by Margaret Creswick in memory of her brother Thomas Creswick who departed this life August 31st 1868. He laboured daily among the sick and in the open air at Kilburn, St John's Wood and Primrose Hill. His first sermon was preached from a platform in the Abbey Fields 1859. His last sermon was delivered at the bridge near this spot one week before he fell asleep in Jesus. 'the memory of the just is blessed' This stone was laid July 18th 1870 John Fordham, builder"

The Abbey fields appear to have been behind the Red Lion pub - in Springfield Lane? - and have been a gathering point for people, open air discourse, I suspect like a speakers corner but in Kilburn.

It would have been busy, lively, possibly some street traders, a real sense of hustle and bustle and have been a gathering point for travellers fefore heading north - a focus for local people in regency and then victorian Kilburn... and here in Kilburn Vale on the side of an old chapel (that feels dis-used?) is a plaque giving some hint of that open air tradition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have read somewhere that people would come out from London on a Sunday to listen to the preachers on the field behind the Old Bell pub and take the waters from the wells before having refreshments in the pub.
There must still be some spiritual energy lingering around the site of the Kilburn Wells though you wouldn't think so looking at the area today. I wonder if a major leyline crosses here?
The gatherings probably stopped soon after the railway cut through.