Denmark Hill Chapel

In 1773, 30 members of the congregation of St Giles organised the building of a proprietary chapel on Denmark Hill. It is now the site of the present day King’s College Dental Hospital. It was initially used only for Morning and Evening prayers and for preaching.

Camberwell Chapel x c1796 WJ Zincke from Manning and Bray of 1814

This etching is by WJ Zincke dated 1796 and comes from Manning & Brays: The History and Antiquities of Surrey (1814, reprint 1974). Part of the Lambeth Archives collection. Looking south up Denmark Hill with the Chapel on the right hand side.

Camberwell Chapel, Denmark Hill 1797 George F Zincke SAC GA0293

The above is titled Camberwell Chapel, Denmark Hill dated  1797 by George F Zincke and is part of the Southwark Borough Art Collection. As above, looking south up Denmark Hill.

It was said that the inhabitants of Camberwell Green area “found it very difficult or impracticable to procure Seats or accomodation to attend divine service in the Parish Church of Camberwell” (St Giles).

After a further donation of land by Claude Champion de Crespigny who granted a 99 year year lease. He lived on the other side of Denmark Hill in Champion Lodge. This Chapel accomodated 750 people and was built between 1792 & 1794. The cost was met by subsciptions of £100-£150 from around 20 or so people.Each subscriber being entitled to a pew for six persons.

In 1814, following a surveyors report that the Chapel was in need of “very considerable repair and that the roof was in danger of collapsing” members of the congregation was asked for a further subscription to pay for the repairs.

Two views (front and rear) from the Lambeth Archives in Minet Road, circa 1815 stating that Denmark Chapel was built in 1802.


As you have read, there are conflicting accounts of when the Chapel was built. This image held by Lambeth Local History Archives titled as a c 1870 sepia pen and wash drawing collected from Phillips Volumes 1-4 Surrey Illustrations and considered to be an early design proposal. As the Chapel was demolished in 1846, these dates are unlikely. More likely c 1770’s.

Denmark Chapel

By 1830, the Chapel was known as St Matthew’s Chapel.

From the Clergy Database we have the following ministers listed:

1795 Rev. Thomas Sampson,D.D. F.R.S. Chaplain

1826 Thomas Gill, Minister

1826 Robert Crawford Dillon, Minister

1830 Henry Scawen Plumptre, Minister

1831 Thomas Dale, Minister, He was a teacher of John Ruskin in 1833 at his day school. He took on the position in 1831 and resigned in 1835.

1835 Thomas Edwards Hankinson, Minister. He was born in 1805 and he died in 1843 on the 6th October. He was a divine and a poet. He published many sermons and lectures. His views were strictly orthodox and in 1834 denounced Unitarians as blasphemers.

Rev T Hankinson lectures, St Matthews Chapel, 1842

Reported in the Morning Post dated 30 January 1836 a list of members of the congregation who raised money for the General Fund for Relief of Distressed Irish Clergy.

Morning Post 30 Jan 1836 General Fund for the Relife of Distressed Irish Clergy

This small monochrome watercolour is dated from the 1830’s and is part of the Surrey Archives. Artist unknown.

Small monochrome watercolour of Denmark Hill Chapel, Lambeth, 1830's Surrey Archives 9043 2 5 13

The following is an extract from J Dewhirst’s Map of Camberwell dated 1842. The Chapel is located at the bottom left.

extract from 1842 Map of Camberwell by J Dewhirst.jpg showing Denmark Hill Academy

In his Book published in 1844, Douglas Allport states the Chapel was “now a handsome and commodius place of worship, capable of accomodating one thousand persons.

And in 1846, the  Chapel was pulled down and a new St Matthew’s Church was built.This followed the establishment of the new Church district of St Matthew, Brixton in 1824.

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