St Saviours deaf church

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Image of Victorian man with beard

Establishment of a society ‘The Refuge for the Deaf and Dumb’, for the welfare of Deaf people providing training in trades and supporting those in physical or spiritual need Samuel Smith became the first ordained minister to Deaf people and RADD chaplain.

Rev Samuel Smith publishes booklet arguing that Sign is first language for Deaf people.


Drawing shows Queen Victoria signing with a woman who sits in bed, with a maid or nurse behind her.

Queen Victoria lent her patronage to the ‘The Royal Association in aid of the Deaf and Dumb’ (RADD). This postcard interestingly shows her signing with “Mrs B Tuffield”.

Meanwhile, St Saviour’s first building was constructed on Oxford Street, with a first service in 1873. The building became a symbol for the right of deaf people to take a full part in church and society.


The International congress for Teachers of the Deaf met in Milan and resolved that “The Congress, considering the incontestable superiority of speech over signs in restoring the deaf mute to society and in giving him a more perfect knowledge of language, declares that the oral method ought to be preferred to that of signs for the education and instruction of the deaf and dumb”

St Saviour’s therefore swam against the tide of opinion in supporting sign language while major providers of education for deaf people would only teach lip reading.


British Deaf Association formed in Leeds.


The church moved to its new home in 1925. The congregation worshipped continually in Acton for 90 years in a building specially designed for deaf worship.


St Saviour’s closed on 14th September 2014 due to lack of funds. Its congregation continues to meet elsewhere in the diocese.