Gospel Oak is an inner suburb of north London below Hampstead Heath.
The Benevolent Institution for the Relief of Aged and Infirm Journeymen was founded on 10 February 1837.
The work originated with a Mr Stulz, the President of the Society, who, at one of the anniversary meetings, announced to the members that he would present them with a piece of land as a site for an asylum. Licence:
Accordingly, upon the sale of the Southampton estate, he made the purchase; and, at his sole cost and charge, erected the chapel, and six of the adjoining houses.
The Asylum was built in the old English style, from the design of Mr. T. Meyer. The first stone was laid by the Marquis of Salisbury, on the 31 May 1842; and the chapel was consecrated by the Bishop of London, on the 24 June. The chapel was endowed by Mr Stulz; and the communion-plate, books, altar-screen, and furniture of the chapel presented by different master members of the institution.
The asylum consisted of the chapel and ten houses; the dwelling at the south end being appropriated for the chaplain. Each house consisted of eight rooms, two being allotted to each pensioner. As reported in 1843, there were thirty-six male pensioners and their wives in the asylum. In addition to the apartments, each pensioner received 8 shillings a week plus coal.
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The name derives from an oak tree, under which parishioners gathered to hear an annual gospel reading when the area was still rural. Lords Mansfield, Southampton and Lisburne were the local landowners when development began in the mid-19th century. Plans were drawn up for elegant streets radiating from Lismore Circus
but after two railway lines were extended across the area the first buildings were two- and three-storey cottages for "navvies and quarrelsome shoemakers." Later the neighbourhood became more respectable and solidly residential.
All Hallows Church by James Brooks is a notable late Victorian church. After World War II much of the original housing around Lismore Circus
was demolished and a series of estates built for Camden Council. Today Gospel Oak is a socially mixed area with its share of inner-city problems but a very strong community spirit. Famous residents include Tony Blair?s former head of communications Alastair Campbell and his partner journalist Fiona Millar, ex-Python Michael Palin, and Britain’s top networker Carole Stone and her husband broadcaster Richard Lindley.