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Virtually all major denominations of Christianity and Judaism as practised in London are represented at LMA.

Archive collections relating to religion are grouped together by various classifications such as:

  • Parishes
  • Diocesan (including Diocese in Europe and St. Paul's Cathedral)
  • Jewish organisations
  • Non-established religions and religious foundations

Parishes

LMA holds the records of over 800 Anglican parish churches within the City of London and Greater London areas including records of almost all of the ancient parishes for the Diocese of London and a number for the Diocese of Southwark.

Parish records date from the late medieval period, and great quantities survive, despite losses suffered during disasters such as the Great Fire of 1666 and the Blitz. Collections include a great number of registers of baptism, marriage and burial from 1538 to the present day.

Diocesan records

The diocesan collections consist of the archives of the registries of the Church of England Dioceses of London and Southwark.

LMA also holds a substantial proportion of the collections for the Diocese of Rochester and Winchester, including Archdeaconry and Commissary Courts of Surrey. The records cover a wide area including Hampshire, Surrey, Greater London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Wills of deceased ancestors proved in church courts prior to 1858, are heavily used for the research of family history. Diocesan archives also explore early and modern social history and help document London's population explosion in the nineteenth century.

The survival of diocesan jurisdictions and the creation of the Dioceses of Southwark in 1905 and Guildford in 1927, made in response to the needs of rapidly increasing populations in South London, have ensured continued rich coverage into the twentieth century. Also held are related associations such as Mother's Union (London Branch) and London and Southwark Diocesan Councils for Welfare.

The records of the Diocese of Guildford, previously held by LMA, are now located at Surrey History Centre.

Diocese in Europe

LMA also holds the records of numerous overseas Anglican chaplaincies. As from 1633, the Bishop of London was held to have responsibility these chaplaincies where no local bishop had been appointed. The Bishop's jurisdiction over those in southern Europe ceased in 1842 on the creation of the Diocese of Gibraltar but continued in north and central Europe.

In 1980 the Bishop of London divested himself of all jurisdictions overseas and a single diocese of Gibraltar in Europe was formed, known subsequently and to this day as the Diocese in Europe.

Jewish organisations

The modern Jewish community resettled in the UK from the mid-seventeenth century onwards.

Jewish organisations of national and international importance have generally kept their bases in London (with the majority of the community) and many of them have deposited their archive with LMA.

Collections include Jewish bodies such as:

  • The United Synagogue
  • The Board of Deputies of British Jews
  • The Office of the Chief Rabbi

as well as individual synagogues, charities and schools for both Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews 

Many collections are available only with permission of the depositing organisation, and researchers must get this permission before they can see any archives, although the catalogues of these archives are freely available to consult.

Non-established religions

LMA holds a large collection of non-conformist records which date almost entirely from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The vast majority of the twentieth century records relate to the Methodist and Congregationalist denominations, but a substantial amount of material also relates to Baptist, Presbyterian and United Reformed congregations.

Our collections also include (to a lesser extent) a selection of records from a variety of other denominations such as:

  • Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Seventh Day Adventists
  • Salvation Army

The surviving records include baptism and marriage registers – as these are a useful genealogical source. Also included are some non-Christian collections such as the London Central Sikh Gurdwara.

Saint Paul's Cathedral

The records of Saint Paul's Cathedral stretch back to the medieval period and include important archives relating to the constitution, administration, services, finances and fabric of the cathedral.

Archives are separated into three sections:

  • Dean and Chapter
  • College of Minor Canons 
  • Choir School

although the main section of archives is held under the Dean and Chapter.

Of particular note are records relating to the reconstruction following the Great Fire of London in 1666. Records include minutes of meetings of the commissioners for the repair and rebuilding of Saint Paul's Cathedral; Works Committee minutes and drawings, plans and sections, many by Wren and his assistants.

Religious foundations

LMA holds a number of archives of religious foundations including monasteries, theological colleges, home and overseas missions, religious fraternities and associations.

Guides and sources

Films

Looking at London: St. Paul's [LMA reference: ILEA/VID/01/1005]

This 1968 film explores St. Paul's Cathedral with a look at the restoration work being carried out on its dome during the late 1960's.

A tour around the construction site is provided by the presenter (and its resident foreman) with panoramic shots of the city shown, as well as a brief explanation of how the dome's roof is being newly fortified with lead.

It continues with a brief history of the construction of St. Paul's, and its architect Sir Christopher Wren. This film is available in the Mediatheque at LMA.

Unfamiliar London: Nearer My God  [LMA reference: ILEA/VID/01/2673]

This 1973 film explores the importance of Christianity in Victorian society, how it influenced education and was adopted by imperial culture throughout the Empire. Beyond the development of schools, new churches and missionaries also began to appear across London.

The work of Reverend Charles Spurgeon, in and around Elephant and Castle, and the role William Booth played in the development of the Salvation Army also feature. This film is available in the Mediatheque at LMA.

    Useful links

    Guides to the St Paul's Cathedral Archives can be found on the Institute of Historical Research website and at the St Paul's Cathedral website

    You may also be interested to see some of the latest research which has been carried out on the original St Paul's Cathedral architectural drawings by Wren by architectural historian Dr Gordon Higgott

    You can search parish and other records held at LMA online at the Ancestry website (please note that you may need to pay to use parts of this service - if you come to London Metropolitan Archives, you can use this facility free of charge)


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