Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church

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Name: Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church
Denomination: Baptist
Address: 235 Shaftesbury Avenue. WC2H 8EP
Telephone: 020 7240 0544
Web Site: 
Email: Click Here

Please visit the website for times of services and details of other events.


Bloomsbury has an unusual provenance: it was built “on spec” by Sir Samuel Morton Peto MP, one of the great railway contractors of the nineteenth century. He believed that a new sphere of Baptist witness was needed in central London and the building was erected ” … in the hope that, in due time, a congregation might be gathered within its walls; and that ultimately a church might be formed in connection with it.” When it was opened in 1848 it was the first Baptist chapel to stand prominently on a London street.


Legend has it that when Peto sought to lease the land from the Crown, the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests objected because nonconformist chapels were too dull; he liked a church to have a spire. Peto promised him two! John Gibson who also worked on the Houses of Parliament designed the building. It is built in neo-Italianate style and was described in the Illustrated London News of 1848 as “one of the very best [chapels), in point of design and character, lately erected in the metropolis.”


The Church’s location – between the comfortable squares of Bloomsbury and the appalling slums of St Giles – says much about the sort of church Peto wanted: “a centre for spiritual, moral, and social renewal in the inner city”.
The Church’s first minister set the tone of Bloomsbury’s worship tradition: at a time when it was still uncommon for current events to be referred to from the pulpit, William Brock claimed that “the Bible and The Times are the best materials for the preacher”, for he believed passionately that the God of the Bible was the God of everyday life. This is a view still strongly held at Bloomsbury (see Social Outreach below).

Doctrine and style of worship

Bloomsbury has a structure of service common to reformed churches. There is a strong emphasis on preaching. Music plays an important part in all services. Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday morning and third Sunday evening of each month.

Social outreach

Bloomsbury continues the tradition of its founders albeit in ways that reflect today’s very different world. The “global village” is not simply a figurative concept at Bloomsbury. Week by week we welcome visitors from all five continents. We therefore have a special concern for other countries, for global justice and peace, and for spreading the gospel throughout the world.

But we are also conscious of the needs on our own doorstep. On Sundays, for example, our Friendship Centre is open most of the day for the homeless and lonely to meet in reasonable comfort. For those unable to afford them, free lunches are provided; worshippers at Bloomsbury meet the cost of which, supplemented by donations from other local churches. Increasingly during the week the Church and Friendship Centre are open for much of the day for local residents, visitors, and passers-by to drop in for a cup of tea and a chat, to read a paper, or simply for quiet reflection. Additionally on Tuesdays hot lunches are served and there is a short talk and question time on a topical subject by well-known speakers.

One of the ministers, helped by church members, devotes much of her time to pastoral concerns not only within the fellowship but also in the wider community, including several hospitals to which she is chaplain. The Baptist Chaplain to Higher Education in London is based at Bloomsbury and is supported by the Church.


Many parts of the building are made available during the week to groups ranging from the Japanese Christian Fellowship to a local tenants’ association and Alcoholics Anonymous. Enquiries are welcomed

Bloomsbury in one page

We’ve been in this corner of London for over 160 years. So who are we, what do we do, and why do we do it? Here in one page is Bloomsbury past, present and future.

Bloomsbury was…

Bloomsbury was founded as Bloomsbury Chapel in 1848. Its location, between the smart squares of Bloomsbury and the appalling slums of St. Giles, says much about the founders’ intentions: the church was to be a centre for spiritual, moral and social renewal in the inner city. And from the earliest days, visitors often came here from overseas.

Bloomsbury is…

Bloomsbury is continuing the tradition of renewal in the inner city and welcoming people from around the world – but in ways that reflect the different needs of the 21st century. The global village is a living experience at Bloomsbury, where week by week we welcome visitors from six continents. We therefore have a special concern for other countries, and for global justice and world peace.

We are also conscious of the needs on our doorstep. On Sundays, for example, our Friendship Centre is open for a traditional Sunday lunch cooked by volunteers. Guests include a number of homeless people who receive the meal free, the cost being met by worshippers at Bloomsbury, supplemented by donations from local churches.

During the week the foyer, church and prayer chapel are open most of the day. Local residents, visitors and passers-by can drop in for a cup of tea and a chat, to read a paper, or for a time of quiet and relaxation.

Bloomsbury will be…

Bloomsbury will be here in years to come, a vital place of worship, witness and welcome in the heart of London. We will continue to reinterpret the Christian message in today’s world, offer help to all those in need, and provide opportunities for people to meet together for discussion and fellowship.

All our work, current and projected, needs resources: people, prayers and pounds! If you would like to know more about our work or help us in some way, just click and explore on our website, or call in and say hello.

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