Mission work began in this impoverished area of Kentish Town in 1877 with the appointment of the Revd M. J. Sutton by the London Diocesan Home Mission.The first services were held out of doors, but later at 36 Malden Road and then at 45 Preston Street.This latter building became the mission house and vicarage, until its move to 13 Preston Street.The property at 5 Preston Street was bought and became the site of the Mission Church.The Revd P. R. Malony began the construction of the Mission Church soon after his arrival in 1882.
The foundation stone of the Mission Church was laid on 9th May 1884.This church, designed by C. L. Luck, was a simple structure in the Early English style, built of brick with stone facings.It seated about 150, although the mission district had a recorded population of 5,566.
The Revd F. W. Bentley succeeded to the mission in 1892 and it was he who started to introduce a more ritualistic liturgy.In 1905 the mission received a bequest of approximately £7,000 from a Mr Henry Howard Paul, a wealthy American resident in London. Unfortunately, due to certain irregularities in drawing up the will, the funds were not released for six years and then with substantial reductions.
The Revd G. Napier Whittingham was appointed as Priest-in-Charge in 1907 and it fell to him to build the new church of St. Silas.Fr. Whittingham was an uncompromising Anglo-Catholic who was adept in raising money for his projects from a variety of wealthy benefactors.
The release of the Paul estate funds allowed the building contract to be finally signed in October 1911.The architect appointed for the new church was Ernest Charles Shearman.
Drawing of proposed Church by Ernest Charles Shearman
The foundation stone was laid on 16th December 1911 by HH the Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein and blessed by the newly appointed Bishop of Willesden, the Right Revd William Perrin.
The new church was consecrated on Saturday, 26th October 1912 by the Bishop of London, the Right Revd Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram and in the presence of the Bishop of Willesden and Princess Marie Louise.
The Right Revd Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram
On 20th December 1912St. Silas was formally made a Parish in its own right.
The Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi, the building of which had been deferred, was begun in 1913.Mrs Alice Mary Hunt, the Church’s other main benefactor, laid the foundation stone on 25th July 1913 in the presence of the Bishop of Willesden.The Chapel was consecrated on 1st November 1913.
The double porch and Calvary were designed by Shearman and added to the south entrance in memory of those who died in the First World War.They were consecrated on 2nd October 1920 by the Bishop of Willesden.