The Metropolitan Tabernacle was built in 1861 and destroyed by fire in April 1898. Since the first day, which he is known to have attended, good order on the premises was maintained by a single officer. PC Wooster, known as the 'Tabernacle Policeman,' his exact date of start is unknown, but in his own words worked for '40 odd years,' and it is probable the fire marked the end of his service.

 

As it is known for certain that he had not been sworn in as a special constable, PC Wooster may have derived his authority from Ecclesiastical Powers legislation.  He said at the time that in the Tabernacle he had the same powers as the ordinary policeman in the street, but although a magistrate was asked about obtaining full police powers, it was not considered worthwhile; besides which it would have required certain expenses.  Finally, the church thought the sight of someone being dragged through the streets to the police station by their own employee was undesirable, and best left to the Met. 

 

However, as PC Wooster wore a standard eight button police tunic with the usual collar numerals (in his case MT 1), it is likely that his presence and demeanour had the desired effect.  Details of his helmet, if he had one, are unknown as the only known picture (in Police Review) shows him bareheaded. 

 

His role, as mentioned already, was to keep order in the Tabernacle with the proviso that he did not remove anyone 'unless absolutely compelled to do so,' as the Rev Spurgeon had no wish to turn anyone away from the house of God.  PC Wooster said it was usually drunks who had to be removed but that they often went for months without using force.  In fact, such was the preacher's reputation, that the opposite sometimes applied, and the doors had to be shut to keep crowds out.

 

Police Review 7 June 1901 (Item marked ‘From the Daily Mail’) refers to the Tabernacle Police and contrary to the other article refers to a force of two constables.  

Information provided by Paul Dew (Metropolitan Police)
 

Sources 

  • Police Review 28 June 1899 - includes a picture of Wooster
  • Police Review 7 June 1901
  • The London Encyclopaedia - Weinreb and Hibbert


© 2000 - 2017 powered by
Doteasy Web Hosting