It all began on the 3rd of March 1907 at a meeting of the Fetter Lane Congregation where they met to discuss the possibility of extension of the work of the Church, either to the North or South of London. Members had moved out into the suburbs, many miles from Fetter Lane; and although the Congregation had recently celebrated its 164th Anniversary, it was no longer one of ‘the strongholds of our Church in this country’. Factors like the time and expense of travel, and the conscientious objection to travelling on Sunday, had resulted in poorly attended services, and there was no Sunday School or any auxiliary activities. An assessment of the areas in which the 180 Fetter Lane members lived showed that by far the largest nucleus lived in the North, quite large enough to warrant an attempt to establish a separate congregation there.
On Saturday the 7th of December, Dr Brackenbury, Chairman of the Hornsey Education Committee, laid the foundation stone of the new church in Priory Road. There was a large gathering at the Ceremony, in what would become the nave. After a hymn and prayer, Rev. H.P. Mumford said: “We are meeting this afternoon to begin a new work in Hornsey. Although new to Hornsey, our Church is, however, not new to London. For more than a century and a half Moravians have met Sunday by Sunday at the historic Church in Fetter Lane; historic, because such well-known men as John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Count Zinzendorf, John Cennick, and others have been connected with it. As long ago as 1749 it was acknowledged by Parliament as an ancient Protestant Episcopal Church.”
The opening of the Church took place on Thursday the 24th of September 1908. The Service of Dedication commenced at 3 o’clock and lasted for about an hour. Addressing the congregation, Bishop E.R. Hassé said the occasion was not one for many words, for they were gathered together to dedicate that house to God. Bishop Hassé consecrated the Church and Bishop Asmussen preached the sermon, taking as his text 2 Corinthians 4: 5 - “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
Sunday the 27th of September was the ﬁrst Sunday at Priory Road, Hornsey, and thanks to the presence of so many members from a distance, and a good proportion of visitors from the neighbourhood, there were large congregations at both the morning and evening services. Under the direction of Rev. C.J. Klesel, the choir led the singing of the hymns, and gave a beautiful rendering of Jackson’s Te Deum. Bishop Asmussen preached the sermon, his subject being ‘God’s family on earth and in Heaven’. Then came the solemn moment when the ﬁrst Communion in the new Church was celebrated, with Rev. H.P. Mumford, Rev C.T. Klesel and Rev. R. Klesel ofﬁciating. At the evening service, the solo, How Beautiful Are Thy dwellings was sung by Miss Edith Hieber, and the service ended with another Communion.
NEW CHURCH HALL
The highlight of the 1930s was the building of the new Sunday School. With a grant of £1000 from Provincial funds, by the end of 1938 sufﬁcient money had been raised to go ahead with the project. A plan was drawn up which satisﬁed both the congregation and the Hornsey Borough Council. On the 11th of February 1939, at a Congregation Tea and Meeting a ‘farewell’ was said to the little building which had served the congregation so well for thirty years. The ofﬁcial opening of the new hall was planned for the 26th of October. But sadly, before this could take place, the country was plunged into World War II, and six and half years were to pass before the congregation were able to make use of it.
One Thursday afternoon in 1960, Rev. Spencer boarded a bus for Stoke Newington, armed with a notebook inherited from Rev. Farrar containing addresses of Moravian brethren and sisters from the West Indies. Stoke Newington was one of the areas were they had settled, and they gradually made their way to Hornsey for Sunday Services. In order that they and the existing Hornsey congregation might have time to become better acquainted, Rev. Farrar and the Church Committee sometimes arranged tea for them in the hall. These were happy occasions and did much to make them feel at home. As time went on, there were weddings and infant baptisms. This act of outreach to our brothers and sisters enriched the life of the congregation then and has continued to do so ever since.
There is so much more that could be and has been written about the history of this church. If you want to know more, a booklet with the complete history was produced for the centenary of Hornsey Moravian Church in 2008 and can be downloaded below.