Tooting unites to defend Defoe Chapel founded by Robinson Crusoe author Daniel Defoe
Tooting residents are mobilising to save an old chapel rumoured to have been founded by the author of Robinson Crusoe.
The Defoe Chapel, in Tooting High Street, opened in 1766 and is considered one of the oldest buildings in the town.
Local legends state the building received its name because the author Daniel Defoe was instrumental in its founding.
The chapel was a place of worship for more than 140 years and is now used for commercial purposes.
However, a planning application has been submitted to demolish parts of the historic building and residents are concerned the changes will dramatically alter its appearance.
Developers Lee Property Holdings Ltd are proposing a ground floor rear extension, enlarged retail area, erection of two storeys above and three two-bedroom flats.
A group has got together to object to the plans and fight to protect what they see is an important part of Tooting’s history.
Libby Lawson, of Tooting History Group, said they were extremely disappointed by plans to demolish parts of the building and called the additions ‘insensitive’.
Meanwhile the reverend of Tooting United Reformed Church, Helen Matthews, said: "The Defoe Chapel is an important part of our history as a church, and of the story of Tooting itself.
"Our church would love to see the old chapel restored so that Tooting could celebrate its fascinating link with a vitally significant piece of history. We would be devastated to see it disappear."
Tooting MP Sadiq Khan has backed the campaign and is asking the council to protect the chapel by adding it to their ‘local list’ which would give it some protection on its journey through the planning process - as it would have to be considered by elected councillors.
He said: "The Defoe Chapel is without doubt part of Tooting’s history, and it is clear that our local community want to see it protected.
"Now it is up to Wandsworth Council to show that it is listening and are committed to protecting our history for future generations."
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