A chapel was first built on the Chatsworth site in 1877 by the London Baptist Association, which was building a new chapel every year to meet the needs of the capital's rapidly growing population. It was situated on a triangular piece of land where two roads met, in what was then a rural area next to the village of Lower Norwood (as West Norwood was then known).
The following year, 26 people had united there to become members of the Lower Norwood Baptist Church, which continued to grow steadily as Norwood developed into a built-up residential area. Rev W Fuller-Gooch became the first pastor and a Sunday School ran from the small lecture-room at the back of the chapel, which grew so quickly that classes overflowed into nearby houses. In 1900, two large halls and additional rooms were built to replace the inadequate lecture-room, which allowed the many different activities associated with the church to flourish.
Two world wars impinged on the life of the church. The first saw the church's pastor Rev DJ Hiley and many young men from the congregation serve in the forces, some of them never to return. During the second, the church had to contend with the falling bombs of the Blitz but services continued nonetheless. That is until September 18 1944, when a V2 rocket made a direct hit on the church, destroying all the building. Thankfully no one was inside at the time. The walls of the chapel were so well built that the area around was protected from the main blast of the explosion which went upwards. Bibles and hymn books were discovered as far away as Streatham Hill.
For the next 15 years, the church members lived a nomadic existence, holding services in a variety of halls, schools and members' homes. A concrete pre-fabricated hall was erected on the bombsite for a while and another local hall was purchased. And yet, despite all these difficulties, the church's membership grew.
Finally, a building licence was granted and rebuilding of the site commenced in 1958, which was completed the following year to great rejoicing. Now the church and all its different agencies could, once again, meet on one site. These buildings which stand today could truly be ours to be used as the front steps proclaim:
'To the Glory of God'.
In 1978, to celebrate the church's centenary, an extension to the halls was opened with Chatsworth House above it, providing sheltered accommodation for the elderly. In 2009 we undertook Stage 1 of our plans for the refurbishment of our building, which included improvements to the inside of the Sanctuary. Further work will continue as funds allow.