St Saviour’s Deaf Church

Acton

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Explore the St Saviour’s Deaf Church timeline

1841X

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.

Image of Victorian man with beard
1841

1873X

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.

Drawing shows Queen Victoria signing with a woman who sits in bed, with a maid or nurse behind her.
1873

1899X

Royal Commission into education of Deaf children (without consulting Deaf people).

1899

1890X

British Deaf Association formed in Leeds.

1890

1923X

Oxford Street lease sold back to the Grosvenor estate for £15,000 and St Saviour’s original building demolished.

Laying of foundation stone of new church building in Acton, designed by Sir Edward Maufe. Architectural drawings of the structure, which included a kitchen and billiard room, are held at RIBA.

pencil architectural drawing of the front of the church
1923

1925X

The church moved to its new home in 1925. At its original site, the building replaced by Selfridges. The congregation worshipped continually in Acton for 90 years in a building specially designed for deaf worship.

1925

2014X

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

2014

St Saviour’s Deaf Church is the only purpose-built church  for deaf people ever to have been constructed.  It features two pulpits, one for a preacher, the other for a sign language  interpreter, and no pillars so that everyone can see what is  happening.

It was opened in 1925 for a congregation which had previously met in central London since the 1870s.  It was long regarded as  symbol of equal place of deaf people in the church and society. It closed in 2014, when it was finally  sold due to lack of funding. The congregation continues to meet at other sites.

Our programme kicked off in April 2016 at the Acton Vale Community Centre for those who  were once members of St Saviour’s Deaf Church.   Some participants, now in their 70s, have been associated with the deaf church since they were teenagers, and discussed their recollections from  50 years of deaf church history.

Some detail in our timeline comes from British History Online. Visit here (and scroll) for more on St Saviour’s.

The St Saviour’s Deaf Church timeline

1841

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.

1873

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.

1899

Royal Commission into education of Deaf children (without consulting Deaf people).

1890

British Deaf Association formed in Leeds.

1923

pencil architectural drawing of the front of the church

Oxford Street lease sold back to the Grosvenor estate for £15,000 and St Saviour’s original building demolished.

Laying of foundation stone of new church building in Acton, designed by Sir Edward Maufe. Architectural drawings of the structure, which included a kitchen and billiard room, are held at RIBA.

1925

The church moved to its new home in 1925. At its original site, the building replaced by Selfridges. The congregation worshipped continually in Acton for 90 years in a building specially designed for deaf worship.

2014

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