Broken Wharfe is one of the oldest wharves in London located on the river Thames.
The Meeting House
“Broken Wharfe, according to Stow, is ‘so called of being broken and fallen into the Thames;’ but others have affirmed that it was here old worn-out vessels were broken up.”
[Harrison’s Description of England in Shakspeare’s Youth, published by N. Trubner & Co., 57, 59, Ludgate Hill, London, E.C., 1877.]
“Here stood a large old building, formerly belonging to the Dukes of Norfolk, but since, to the city of London…During the reign of William the third, a portion of this building was let out for a meeting-house.”
[The History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches and Meeting Houses, in London, Westminster, and Southwark; Including the Lives of their Ministers, from the Rise of Nonconformity to the Present Time. Vol. II., London: 1808.]
Counting the Cost
The church that met at Broken Wharfe experienced considerable trials during a time of social, political and ecclesiastical unrest. For instance, it was not uncommon for their pastor to be arrested for preaching.
“By virtue of the Acts of Parliament, touching private Meetings and Conventicles, Commencing May the 10th 1670, I was taken at a Meeting in George-yard, and then Lord Mayor committed me to the Compter [prison] in Bishops-gate for preaching there”
[The life and death of that old disciple of Jesus Christ and eminent minister of the Gospel Mr. Hanserd Knollys who dyed in the ninety third year of his age written with his own hand to the year 1672 ; and continued in general in an epistle by Mr. William Kiffin., London: 1692, page 32.]
Contending Earnestly for the Faith
How did confessional Baptists, such as Hanserd Knollys, endure the trials of the Christian life?
“The spiritual sights of the glory of God, the divine sweetness of the spiritual and providential presence of my Lord Jesus Christ, and the joys and comforts of the Holy and Eternal Spirit, communicated to my soul; together with suitable and seasonable scriptures of truth; have so often, and so powerfully revived, refreshed, and strengthened my heart in the days of my pilgrimage, trials, and sufferings, that the sense, yea the life and sweetness thereof abides still upon my heart, and hath engaged my soul to live by faith, to walk humbly, and to desire and endeavour to excel in holiness, to God’s glory and the example of others.”
[The life and death of that old disciple of Jesus Christ and eminent minister of the Gospel Mr. Hanserd Knollys who dyed in the ninety third year of his age written with his own hand to the year 1672 ; and continued in general in an epistle by Mr. William Kiffin., London: 1692, page 29-30.]
Such an example represents the convictions of confessional Baptists who were active in promoting biblical church associations summarised in the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith.
“Mr. Knollys…survived all these political persecutions, and we find him after the Revolution in 1688 particularly active in promoting the Union [association] and prosperity of the Baptist Churches by a general Assembly in London. His church met at this period at Broken Wharfe”
[A History of the English Baptists, Vol. 2, By Joseph Ivimey, London: 1814, pg. 355]
Confessing the Faith
Thus, in September 1689, more than 100 churches were represented by messengers to formally ‘own’ the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith published in 1677. This meeting was hosted at Broken Wharfe in London.
“… recommended to the churches by the General Assembly that met at Broken Wharfe in London 1689.”
[Bagnio/Cripplegate Church Minute Book 1695-1723, Angus Library, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, unnumbered page facing page 26.]
Broken Wharfe was founded as a distinctly confessional Baptist resource base in the UK consistent with the faith and life characterised by those churches affirming the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith.