The Founding Of The Highbury Centre

Nestled in a quiet North London street, the beautiful Victorian buildings housing the Highbury Centre began life as housing for middle-class Victorian families. Nearby Canonbury was a popular suburb for those working on the Stock Exchange and in the financial district of the City and this would have been a quiet neighbourhood of relatively well-to-do families.

The nineteenth century saw a huge number of missionaries heading off to the mission field in many different countries. When returning on furlough, they faced a problem. Where, in the dirty, bustling, undoubtedly sinful city of London could a blameless worker for the Lord find a comfortable place to lay their head?

A committee was formed to find a suitable building and establish such a place, led by the Reverend George Patterson. In December 1893, it opened as the Foreign Missions Club – a safe, comfortable and welcoming place for missionaries and their families to stay in the capital. Back then, it was located in Highbury New Park, occupying two large adjoining houses.

Exhausted missionaries returning to London, often after journeys taking weeks, using the cheapest and most uncomfortable forms of travel and occasionally going through dangerous situations were delighted to find a Christian establishment where they could stay to restore their weary souls and bodies. There were regular services and prayer meetings and guests could visit friends and family in London safe in the knowledge that they would be returning to comfortable accommodation, rather than the rather dubious boarding houses on offer to guests in the city.

Over the years, the FMC expanded and blossomed, offering accommodation and a warm welcome to thousands of guests. Miraculously, it escaped serious damage during the Second World War. In 1954, due to a compulsory purchase order, the FMC moved to its current home in Aberdeen Park, near Highbury Fields. 125 years on, now known as the Highbury Centre, it continues to offer an oasis of calm and tranquillity to all those in need of rest.


23rd April 2019

Centre news


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