The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England

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The oldest Mormon Chapel in the world: Gadfield Elm Chapel, near Pendock

As of January 1, 2011, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) reported 145,294 members in 36 stakes, 258 Congregations (228 wards[1] and 30 branches[1]), five missions, and two temples in England.[2][3]


The LDS Church traces its origins to western New York state in the USA. The Church's early history was defined in part by its missionary activities, and England was one of the earliest places to be proselytised, due to the shared language. Some early members were also English, of English origin, living in the USA.

1837: First Mormon missionaries reach England[edit]

The first seven missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sailed from America on the sailing vessel Garrick, on 1 July 1837. They were Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, Joseph Fielding, John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snyder.

The missionaries arrived at Liverpool on 20 July 1837. The missionary party went by coach to Preston two days later. It was election day in Preston, and as their coach arrived the missionaries noted a large banner in bold gilt letters that bore the inscription “Truth Will Prevail”, which they took as a good omen for their work.[4]

The following day they were invited to preach to the congregation of the Reverend James Fielding,[5] the brother of missionary Joseph Fielding. Within the week, nine of Fielding's flock sought baptism, which took place on Sunday morning July 30, 1837 in the nearby River Ribble, before a crowd of thousands.

Preston remains the site of the oldest continually existing Latter-day Saint congregation anywhere in the world.

1840: The United Brethren donate the Gadfield Chapel[edit]

By 1840 nearly 8,000 Britons had been baptised as Latter-day Saints.

Elder Wilford Woodruff preached at the John Benbow farm in Herefordshire in early 1840. A constable had been sent by the rector of the parish with a warrant to arrest him. At the close of the meeting seven people offered themselves for baptism, including four preachers and the constable. Within 18 days two of the most influential members of the United Brethren, John Benbow and Thomas Knighton, were baptised. Thirty days later Woodruff had baptised 45 preachers and 160 members of the United Brethren, who put into his hands their Gadfield Elm Chapel and 45 houses licensed for preaching. By 1841 nearly 1,800 additional people had converted, including all but one of the 600 United Brethren.[6]

Restored between 1994-2000,[7] the Gadfield Elm Chapel in Worcestershire is the oldest extant chapel of the LDS Church.[8]

1841–1900: Growth in the British Isles[edit]

Richly-bound copies of the Book of Mormon were presented to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert by Elder Lorenzo Snow, who received an audience with Her Majesty in 1841. On that occasion Queen Victoria autographed an album of Elder Snow's, which became a prized possession in his family.[9] His elder sister, Eliza R. Snow was a prominent poet and songwriter of the era. She commemorated the occasion of her brother meeting the Queen in her poem "Queen Victoria", which includes the verse: "O would she now her influence bend, The influence of royalty; Messiah's Kingdom to extend, And Zion's nursing mother be. Though over millions called to reign, Herself a powerful nation's boast; 'Twould be her everlasting gain, To serve the King, the Lord of Hosts. The time, the time is near at hand, To give a glorious period birth: the Son of God will take command, And rule the nations of the Earth."[9][10]

As many as 100,000 converts in Britain had joined the faith by 1899. Many of these early members migrated to the United States to join the main body of the Church in its pioneer movement West. John Moon brought the first company of 4 converts with him on the ship Britannia from Liverpool in June 1840. Another 800 members made the voyage the next year.

Writing of the members preparing for one such ocean voyage, Charles Dickens described these pioneer Latter-day Saints in chapter 22 of his book The Uncommercial Traveller as, by his estimation, "the pick and flower of England".[11]

In June 1894 Latter-day Saint leaders in America began to encourage the European members to remain in their homelands and build up the Church in those countries.

Based on studies of information submitted to the Genealogical Society, it is estimated that 80 percent of the members of the Church in the world today are of British extraction.[12]

Early twentieth century[edit]

A well-organised 'anti-Mormon' campaign was mounted by various ministers and Latter-day Saints who had turned from the church. They lectured and published pamphlets accusing the missionary programme of being a disguise for Americans to enslave British girls as polygamous wives.[13] The movie Trapped by the Mormons, inspired by Winnifred Graham's book of the same title, inspired widespread anti-Mormon rhetoric throughout the British Isles.[14] Missionaries in this era were sometimes attacked. Crusaders baited then Home Secretary Winston Churchill and the British Home Office to persuade Parliament to expel Latter-day Saint missionaries and refuse entry to any more of them. Churchill led the way in opposing exaggerated claims and collecting favorable police reports from key cities. When the 'Mormon question' came up in Parliament again, Churchill said that although he had not completed his investigation, he had found nothing against the Mormons.[15]

In 1937 Church leaders in the United Kingdom celebrated the centennial of the Church in the British Isles. During the first 100 years, 126,593 people had been baptised, and 52,000 of these had immigrated to the United States.

World War II[edit]

War disturbed every aspect of life in England, including the Church's operations. In September 1939 missionaries visiting from America were evacuated to serve in their military, and ongoing missionary and charity work continued through local members. In 1944 an additional 68 congregations were formed across the country.


During the 1950s, the LDS began to discourage emigration to the USA, and built the first temple in England at London.


In the early 1970s, the Mormon sex in chains case brought the church some unwanted publicity in national newspapers. A young Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson went missing in 1977, in Ewell, Surrey, after he was abducted from the steps of a church meetinghouse.[16] A few days later a freed Anderson made a report to the police that he had been abducted, driven to Devon, and imprisoned against his will, chained to a bed in a cottage, where Joyce Bernann McKinney (b. August 1949) — a former (1973) Miss Wyoming World[17][18][19][20] (as Joy McKinney[21]) — had abducted, attempted to seduce, and then raped him.[22][23] The case became known by many sobriquets, including "The Mormon sex in chains case" and "The Case of the Manacled Mormon".

The coverage was extensive in part because the case was considered so anomalous, involving as it did the issue of rape of a man by a woman. in 2010 documentary filmmaker Errol Morris made Tabloid (2010), based on the media sensation surrounding the story.[24]

Since 2000[edit]

"Mormon Helping Hands" service projects[edit]

The Church opens its Mormon Helping Hands programme in Britain. The project runs off of donations and volunteer work from Church members, and provides service in local communities by Latter-day Saints who live there.[25][26]

"Truth Shall Prevail" summer pageant[edit]

In the summer of 2013 the United Kingdom hosted the first official church pageant outside of North America.[27] Titled "Truth Will Prevail", it told the story of early missionary efforts in Britain.[28] The pageant included 33 core cast members, 300 family cast, and a 150-voice choir.[29]

"I'm a Mormon"[edit]

2013 also saw the opening of the Tony Award-winning Broadway production called The Book of Mormon (musical) on London's West End, which was widely interpreted to be provocative, by its creators and church members too.[30]

The LDS reacted by putting advertisements on the London Underground and buses, many of them pointing to a website associated with the "I'm a Mormon" campaign. Many English members have posted their own views and testimonies on this website.[31]


There are two temples in England.

The London England Temple serves the south of Britain. It was dedicated in 1958 by then Church President David O. McKay, and is located in Newchapel, Surrey on a site formerly known as Newchapel Farm listed in the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror. Its public open house was attended by 76,324 British citizens.

The Preston England Temple serves northern England, north Wales, all of Ireland and Scotland. It was dedicated in 1998 by then Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, and is located in Chorley, Lancashire,.[32] The world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed at the Royal Albert Hall in conjunction with the dedication.

England is one of only two nations in Europe to have two LDS temples, the other being Germany.


12. London England edit


Lingfield, Surrey, United Kingdom
17 February 1955
7 September 1958 by David O. McKay
18 October 1992 by Gordon B. Hinckley
51°9′45.23759″N 0°3′7.851599″W / 51.1625659972°N 0.05218099972°W / 51.1625659972; -0.05218099972 (London England Temple)
42,775 sq ft (3,974 m2) and 190 ft (58 m) high on a 32 acre (12.9 ha) site
Modern contemporary, single spire - designed by Edward O. Anderson

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Preston England Temple.jpg

52. Preston England edit


Chorley, Lancashire, United Kingdom
19 October 1992
7 June 1998 by Gordon B. Hinckley
53°40′20.91360″N 2°37′52.59″W / 53.6724760000°N 2.6312750°W / 53.6724760000; -2.6312750 (Preston England Temple)
69,630 sq ft (6,469 m2) and 159 ft (48 m) high on a 15 acre (6.1 ha) site
Modern, single-spire design - designed by Church A&E Services

UK membership[edit]

LDS Membership statistics as of January 1, 2014 for England.

Country Membership Stakes Wards Branches Total Congregations Missions Temples
England 188,281 36 228 30 330 5 2


There are currently 5 missions serving England, including:

Notable English Latter-day Saints[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b LDS Meetinghouse Locator. Nearby Congregations (Wards and Branches).
  2. ^ "Facts and Statistics: Statistics by Country: United Kingdom", (LDS Church), 31 December 2011, retrieved 2012-10-18 
  3. ^ "Country information: United Kingdom", Church News Online Almanac (LDS Church News, Deseret News), February 1, 2010, retrieved 2012-10-18 
  4. ^ "Discovering LDS Britain", (blog), 22 July 2012 [unreliable source?]
  5. ^ "Our Churches and Chapels" by Hewitson, Atticus. "Chronicle" Office, Fishergate, Preston, 1869. The Lancashire Online Parish Clerks Project
  6. ^ Cowley, Matthias F. (1909). "Chapter 12: Mission to Great Britain, 1840". Wilford Woodruff: History of his life and labors. Salt Lake City: The Deseret News Press. pp. 117–119. OCLC 9384991. 
  7. ^ Wilkinson, Carol (2007). "The Restoration of the Gadfield Elm Chapel". In Doxey, Cynthia; Freeman, Robert C.; Holzapfel, Richard Neitzel; Wright, Dennis A. Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: The British Isles. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University. pp. 41–59. ISBN 978-0-8425-2672-2. LCCN 2008298997. OCLC 181088736. Archived from the original on November 7, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Do you know where the oldest Mormon chapel in the world is?". BBC News. 30 March 2005. 
  9. ^ a b Ostler, Craig James (2008), "Life of Lorenzo Snow", in Manscill, Craig K.; Freeman, Robert C.; Wright, Dennis A., The Presidents of the Church: The Lives and Teachings of the Modern Prophets, Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, p. 129, ISBN 9781462104376, LCCN 2008014857, OCLC 224442029 
  10. ^ Roberts, B. H., ed. (1912). "Chapter 8: Presentation of the Book of Mormon to Queen Victoria—The Sealing Powers of the Priesthood—Governor Ford's Warning to the People of Hancock County—Apostrophe to Missouri—Joseph Smith Nominated for President of the United States—His Views on the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States". History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 6. Salt Lake City: Deseret News. 
  11. ^ Dickens, Charles (1914) [1860]. "XXII: Bound for the Great Salt Lake". The Uncommercial Traveller. London: Chapman & Hall. p. 181. 
  12. ^ Evans, Richard L. (September 1971). "History of the Church in Great Britain". Ensign. 
  13. ^ Perkins, Jerome M. (2007). "The Story of the British Saints in Their Own Words, 1900–50". In Doxey, Cynthia; Freeman, Robert C.; Holzapfel, Richard Neitzel; Wright, Dennis A. Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: The British Isles. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University. pp. 149–69. ISBN 978-0-8425-2672-2. LCCN 2008298997. OCLC 181088736. Archived from the original on November 7, 2011. 
  14. ^ Parrish, Alan K. (2007). "Turning the Media Image of the Church in Great Britain, 1922–33". In Doxey, Cynthia; Freeman, Robert C.; Holzapfel, Richard Neitzel; Wright, Dennis A. Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: The British Isles. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University. pp. 171–92. ISBN 978-0-8425-2672-2. LCCN 2008298997. OCLC 181088736. Archived from the original on November 7, 2011. 
  15. ^ Hoopes, David S.; Hoopes, Roy (1990). The Making of a Mormon Apostle: The Story of Rudger Clawson. Landham, MD: Madison Books. p. 263. ISBN 0819172987. LCCN 89031917. OCLC 19514770. 
  16. ^ Fernandes, Fatima (1999). "Sex scandals". In Peter Childs and Mike Storry. Encyclopedia of Contemporary British Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 489. ISBN 978-0-415-14726-2. 
  17. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (2008-08-10). "Cloned-dog owner is '70s fugitive". The Denver Post. (AP). Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  18. ^ Bone, James; Kennedy, Dominic (2008-08-08). "Missing years in Bernann McKinney's strange journey from Mormon sex case to clones called Booger". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  19. ^ "Corrections". St. Petersburg Times. 2008-08-13. p. A1. 
  20. ^ "Setting it straight". The Sacramento Bee. 2008-08-13. p. A2. 
  21. ^ West, Donald, "Miss World-U.S.A.: Wyoming, 1973", (self-published source) [unreliable source?]
  22. ^ Dube, Rebecca (August 26, 2008). "I dress my dog in a pumpkin costume - is that a gateway to madness?". The Globe and Mail. I love him so much that I would ski naked down Mount Everest with a carnation up my nose if he asked me to. 
  23. ^ Delano, Anthony (1978). Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon. London: Mirror Books. ISBN 085939140X. OCLC 4525404. [page needed]
  24. ^ J. Hoberman (13 July 2011), "Scandal and Subjective Reality in Errol Morris's Tabloid", The Village Voice 
  25. ^ "Topic: Mormon Helping Hands", (LDS Church) 
  26. ^ "'Helping Hands' give 130 man hours to help St Patrick's Church", (News Release) (LDS Church), 1 September 2014 
  27. ^ Kerr, Stephen C., "British Pageant in 2013", (LDS Church), archived from the original on 2013-10-22 
  28. ^ "Church News: The British Pageant 2013", (LDS Church), 23 July 2013, archived from the original on 2014-04-07 
  29. ^ Holt, James (April 29, 2013), "Truth Will Prevail is a new Mormon Pageant in UK this Summer", Deseret News 
  30. ^ Shute, Joe (10 April 2013). media "British Mormons Take on The Book of Mormon". The Daily Telegraph. 
  31. ^ "I'm a Mormon", (LDS Church) 
  32. ^ Chorley Council Town Plan[full citation needed]

External links[edit]