It seems astonishing that, apart from King's College with its unique status, no Bishop of London deemed its great university worthy of special pastoral care until 1948. In that year Bishop Wand of London appointed John Munro his Chaplain to London University. He worked as best he could from the vestry of Christ Church, Woburn Square,our nearest church, and once patronised by the Anglican poet Christina Rosetti, who lived in nearby Torrington Place. On his return to his native Australia, the Revd. Eric Tinker became Chaplain and succeeded in securing the use of premises at 13, Woburn Square. The present Chaplain arrived in the early days of 1955, and university services began in Christ Church in October of that year. The present Bishop of Peterborough, Cyril Eastaugh, then of Kensington, celebrated the first University Eucharist, and the first University Sermon was preached by Dr. Austin Farrer, now Warden of Keble College Oxford.
In April, 1956, St. George's Bloomsbury fell vacant by the death of its Rector, and the Chaplaincy moved its work to this handsome Hawksmoor church, and 6, Gower Street became the headquarters of the Chaplaincy.
Lent, 1957, was marked by a great mission to the university which lasted virtually the whole term and was conducted by members of all the principal Anglican religious orders. It was this term which marked the real arrival of the Chaplaincy upon the university scene.
Work began for the western area of the university, particularly Imperial College, first in Holy Trinity, Prince Consort Road, and then, after a short stay in Christ Church, Victoria Road, settling, for the present, upon St. Augustine's, Queens Gate. The present Chaplain in the west has an assistant who works in the new Colleges of Advanced Technology and other similar institutions in south west London.
In October, 1962, we were able to dedicate St. Benet's House in the Mile End Road, adjacent to Queen Mary College, as our centre for student work for the colleges in east London. This modern building replaces the bombed parish church.
Work for Medical Students is a special section of the work of the Chaplaincy and has its Centre in St. George's, Bloomsbury Way. There is no intention to segregate one kind of student from another; but medical students, once they are clinical students, do not have regular holidays, and are in London for six years at least. It is not easy to minister to two such different groups of people as the medical students and the undergraduate population with its three ten-week terms a year and a three-year life cycle.
Throughout this period there were hopes that this noble church in Gordon Square would one day become available for university religious use. Thanks to the generosity of the Trustees it has now been put at the disposal of the Anglican Chaplaincy on very generous terms, for which all who have the spiritual care of students at heart should be eternally grateful. The acquisition of this church and some of its ancillary buildings, enables us to face the next stage in our development with confidence, but a deep sense of responsibility.