Search

Residents haunted by plan for flats on site of Conan Doyle’s spiritual temple

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:05 11 September 2017

Rochester Square spiritualists temple. Picture: Wendy Stokes

Rochester Square spiritualists temple. Picture: Wendy Stokes

Archant

A row has erupted over the future of a historic spiritualist temple whose foundation stone was laid by Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Inside Rochester Square spiritualist temple Picture: Wendy Stokes Inside Rochester Square spiritualist temple Picture: Wendy Stokes

Campaigners hoping to save Rochester Square Spiritualist Temple accuse its owners, the Spiritualists’ National Union (SNU), of asset stripping the building – built with donations from Conan Doyle – and leaving it to rot.

Ex-spiritualist Wendy Stokes said: “They have not cared about the residents of Rochester Square who are angry the church has been neglected for years.

“In Camden, the name of SNU is mud,” she added.

In July, Urban-lab submitted plans to demolish the temple – which had its foundation stone laid in 1926 – to make way for flats and a basement gallery.

Rochester Square spiritualist temple. Picture: Wendy Stokes Rochester Square spiritualist temple. Picture: Wendy Stokes

More than 100 responses have since been lodged as part of a Camden Council consultation, now closed, with concerns raised over the developer’s designs, loss of an historic site and destruction of hallowed ground.

An online petition started in Australia – where Conan Doyle lectured as a pioneer of spiritualism – has gained the support of 370 people hoping to save the venue.

But the temple is no stranger to controversy with squatters, identifying themselves as the Rainbow Family of Living Light, ousting the congregation in March 2014 and squatting for weeks inside the building.

Urban-lab argue the temple is dilapidated and requires significant investment to bring

Rochester Square spiritualist temple. Picture: Wendy Stokes Rochester Square spiritualist temple. Picture: Wendy Stokes

it back to a purposeful use and provides “limited scope” for alternative community uses.

Ms Stokes said: “The SNU has been very unprincipled to leave the building like that. Residents are up in arms.”

Camden Council must now decide whether or not the scheme should be referred to its planning committee.

A council spokesman said: “We are assessing the application in accordance with usual processes. No decision has been made.”

The foundation stone of Rochester Square spiritualists temple laid by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Picture: Wendy Stokes The foundation stone of Rochester Square spiritualists temple laid by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Picture: Wendy Stokes

Planning consultants Nicholas Taylor and Associates, acting for Urban-lab, declined to comment.

The SNU, which represents around 340 spiritualist churches in the UK, was unavailable.

Spiritualism began in the mid-19th century. Followers believe it is possible to contact the dead in the afterlife.

Related articles

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 13:45

A couple with a baby told today how they narrowly cheated death after escaping from their smoke-filled top floor flat during the fatal fire in Daleham Gardens.

Yesterday, 13:23

An elderly couple have been left distraught by a ‘sick’ fake doctor who kissed them on both cheeks after taking £200 to pay towards a cure for their disabled son’s condition.

Yesterday, 17:37

Hampstead Community Centre will be celebrating their fortieth anniversary this weekend, with a special market.

Yesterday, 15:50

A Stroud Green councillor has said he won’t stand in next year’s local elections blaming a ‘poisonous’ selection process.

Yesterday, 11:05

A photography competition showcasing the beauty of Hampstead Heath has received more than 1,000 entries.

Yesterday, 10:11

A success story of one of Archant London’s Student Takeover schemes is encouraging students at City of Westminster College and College of North West London to get involved in a potentially “life-changing” opportunity at the Ham&High.

Thu, 18:47

A 22-year-old Camden man belonging to a moped smash and grab gang has been found guilty along with nine others of raiding 17 shops and costing retailers an estimated £1million.

Thu, 15:05

Haringey Council has clinched a deal forcing the developer behind plans for a multi-million pound restoration of Hornsey Town Hall to pay for 11 affordable homes at the site.

PROMOTED CONTENT

One of London’s most popular animal welfare charities will roll out the red carpet for glamorous guests and their beloved pet dogs as their annual fundraiser returns.

An opportunity of a lifetime has arisen for media-savvy students at City of Westminster College and the College of North West London.

Education editor James Scott speaks to Sarah Creasey about life as headteacher of Parliament Hill School.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now