Sir Arthur Conan Doyles’ Church Facing Destruction

The foundation of Spiritualism is to provide evidence of life after death, and the belief in the continuation of life after the shedding of the physical body. It is what we as Spiritualists have built or knowledge upon. In the early days, the home circle was the place that great mediums were developed and from the circle, they took their place in the annals of history serving on the platform in some of the greatest and most historical places.

One of those historical places is now under threat of being destroyed and no thought to those who have found comfort and solace in times gone by with messages from loved ones in spirit and delivered by some of the greatest names in the history of Spiritualism. Rochester Square Spiritualist Temple is under threat of being sold and destroyed to make way for modern development. Owned and held in trust by the Spiritualist National Union who for some reason has failed to answer the demand for answers by the Church president, the committee and spiritualists worldwide who are now in an uproar because of the planned demolition of this historical building.

The Church was built in 1926 and the money to begin that development was an investment by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was a staunch supporter of Spiritualism and the creator of the infamous “Sherlock Holmes.” A great deal of detective work has been done by many people, and like any situation like this – great rumors have also surfaced making the truth rather difficult to get.

Spiritualism’s Historical Foundations

arthur conan doyle


The support of Sir Arthur was not unnoticed and a foundation stone was laid in honor of his support and dedication to the work of Spiritualists. Hannen Swaffer, Circle leader of the home circle in which a much-beloved guide “Silver Birch” taught millions through the mediumship of Maurice Barbanell (also in attendance), and who was also a journalist in his own right – was there on that day when the stone was laid – including another by himself and his wife.

To date, that stone can clearly be seen, yet it has a target on it and may not be there much longer. The church is empty and has even suffered at the hands of squatters who gained access whilst it was closed for repair in 2014. One of the problems with this church and other churches that are owned by the SNU is the problems of politics and Internal Issues and arguments, which stop committees from being able to run an affiliated church properly, compounded with lack of memberships and mismanagement puts churches like these in the firing line. However, none have created a stir such as Rochester Square because of its rich spiritual foundations.

foundation stone sir arthur conan doyle    ernest j beard

Other Churches Have Suffered

Allegations toward the SNU have included the belief they are deliberately running down churches or not supporting churches when the cost for repairs our financial support is requested to make way for other financial arrangements or as suggested by further allegations – personal gain. However, it must be noted that to date, the allegations are unfounded and still remain a contention amongst spiritualists worldwide.

Some Of The Greats Were There

Looking back at the church’s history, one will find evidence of some of the greatest pioneers who demonstrated there;

  • Helen Duncan
  • Leslie Flint
  • Maurice Barbanell
  • Doris Stokes
  • Ernest W Beard (Founder)
  • George Daisley
  • Colin Evans 1938
  • Joseph Benjamin

Something Mirky In The Water!

One of the arguments surrounding the way in which the sale or the closing of the church was handled suggests the SNU closed the church for “Immediate Repairs” making the current congregation and committee to believe it would be repaired and opened again. Of course, this was not the case and the sale of the church was put underway resulting in a planning application to the local Camden planning department to demolish and redevelop the Church into residential units.

It makes me very sad. I have had beautiful experiences in the temple. It’s a very important building. It’s interior has incredible murals.”

graham coxon blur

This has caused a mass uproar and many spiritualists including famous individuals like Blur’s  Blur guitarist Graham Coxon have stepped forward to block the sale of the church and to continue its legacy as Sir Arthur, Hannen Swaffer and Maurice would have wanted. A more in-depth article regarding the background and proposal can be found in this month’s issue of psychic news, which of course was founded by Hannen Swaffer not 6 Years Later. The article written by Editor Roy Stenman goes into far more detail regarding the background of the case.

rochester square spiritualist church psychic news

What’s The Future For The Church Now?

It’s difficult to say; the amount of funding needed to repair and bring the church back to glory is in the millions and it’s suggested the SNU has it but won’t put out. Other’s such as the former president Helena Breen and the church committee has now put forward a campaign to save the church and supported by many other well-known Spiritualists. However, with such a historical mountain to climb, we can only sit and wait till we see what unfolds.


Start The Conversation Below, let us know your thoughts on the Campaign to Save Rochester Square Spiritualist Church!

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