Guest post: religious history in Wandsworth

Guest posts are always welcome.  Many thanks to John Woodhouse for reporting from Friday’s event.  John runs Westminster Cathedral Inter Faith Group and a busy email list – please contact him for further information.

Exploring Religious History in Wandsworth

Balham Baptist Church 14th June 2012

Supported by the Open University and Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network

Professor John Wolffe introduced the Building on History Project and we had a fascinating talk by Dr Clifford Hill on the Wilberforce Heritage in which he made it very clear that the legacy of slavery was still with us, notably in the 2011 riots. He pointed to white slavery as well as the black struggle.

malik's pic of Building on History

Wandsworth people from Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh traditions decided to move forward with a religious history project.

Dr Tim Powell described the religious archives at the National Archives and a representative from the London Metropolitan Archive in Camberwell spoke. It struck me how people of faith may not know that their history is preserved in local collections like the Local History library at Battersea and Wandsworth Museum as well as National collections.

We then heard from leaders from Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, New Testament (they have their own published history!), Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh communities. Common themes began to emerge. There are many firsts in Wandsworth e.g. Quakers, Huguenots, temples. Many immigrant communities hung onto their faith in the face of opposition and struggled to get established. Youth work and community service were common themes.

Moulana Ali Rizvi i

Moulana Ali Rizvi addressing the seminar.

In the discussion that followed several themes emerged. Informing the younger generation about the past and using SACRE to help with funding. The John Cass foundation which is specifically for Wandsworth was mentioned as a source of funding. The council Green Plaque scheme and Wandsworth library, Balham Society, Putney Society, Battersea Society and especially Wandsworth Historical Society should be approached for help. A website and possibly a book for young people should be established and we were told that a London wide site is in progress.

A fascinating afternoon and a lot was learnt about each other!

John Woodhouse

The programme for the day can be downloaded here.

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