Ironmonger Row, London, England
After months of working in various fields of labor in other regions of England, Elders Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith journeyed to London to see how their message might be received. They arrived on August 18, 1840. Elder Woodruff, who kept a remarkable journal, noted the following after they arrived:
“We are the first Elders of the church of Latter Day Saints that have ever walked the streets of London.” The three apostles were struck with the size of London as well as its teeming population, buildings, wealth and poverty. They found this great city “full of everything but righteousness.”
Elder Woodruff also recorded: “O London as I walk thy street and behold the mass of human beings passing through thee and view thy mighty palaces, thy splendid mansions, the costly merchandise wherewith thou art adorned even as the capital of great Babylon, I am ready to ask myself, what am I and my brethren here for? The spirit answers to warn thee of thine abominations and to exhort thee to repent of thy wickedness.” The success they had encountered thus far in Great Britain virtually came to a stop in London. The lack of progress there stood in stark contrast to the harvest of souls they had experienced elsewhere.
For about ten days the missionaries “walked the streets of London, sometimes together and sometimes separately. They contacted individuals, visited established churches, talked to preachers, and spoke at temperance meetings, all in an effort to find someone who would listen to their message.” On Agust 29, after nearly two weeks in the city, the missionaries were invited to teach a man named
Henry Connor, who opened his house at No. 52 Ironmonger Row for preaching. The missionaries boarded with Connor for a while and he became the first person baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in London. A few days later on September 9, the missionaries moved to new quarters at No. 40 Ironmonger Row across the street from the Connor home. This became the place of lodging for missionaries laboring in London for the next two and a half years.
The missionaries’ first night at the Ironmonger Row lodgings was one of frightful experiences with beings from an unseen world, particularly for Elder Smith. This experience is reminiscent of the battle with evil spirts that unfolded in the St. Wilfred Street lodgings, Preston at the beginning of the first mission to Great Britain in 1837.
The Connor home and the Ironmonger Row missionary lodgings are no longer extant. A public bath now stands where the Connor home was and no structure presently (2018) stands where the missionary lodgings were.
Map and Directions
The first missionary lodgings in London were about where Norman Street intersects with Ironmonger Row near St. Luke’s Gardens and the Ironmonger Row Baths at: 1 Norman St, London EC1V 3AA, United Kingdom.
The buildings in which Henry Connor lived and where the first Latter-day Saint missionaries lodged in the London area are no longer extant. The street where those structures once stood is open to the public as are St. Luke’s Gardens, near the actual site.
Articles & Resources
James B. Allen, Ronald K. Esplin, David J. Whittaker, Men With A Mission: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles, 1837-1841, 181-195.
V. Ben Bloxham, James R. Moss, Larry C. Porter, eds., Truth Will Prevail: The Rise of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles, 1837-1987, 153-157.
Richard L. Evans, A Century of “Mormonism” in Great Britain, 168-169.
Ivan J. Barrett, Joseph Smith and the Restoration: A History of the LDS Church to 1846, 465-466.
Wilford Woodruff, in Susan Staker, ed., Waiting For World’s End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, 32.