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Petersham Road

The church no longer exists. It was located on Petersham Road, somewhere between the current numbers 287 and 289.

Van Gogh in


  1. 19 Nov 1876 1876

Petersham Isleworth, England 19 Nov 1876 Download walk Old map On 19 November 1876, Vincent preached at the Methodist church in Petersham, a village on the Thames. By the time he got there in late afternoon, he had already had a busy day, having taught Sunday school that morning in Turnham Green and visited the village of Richmond in the afternoon. At the bottom of a letter describing his day, he drew the Petersham and Turnham Green churches. He wrote of walking to Petersham:

“It grew dark early and I wasn’t sure of the way, it was a surprisingly muddy road over a kind of embankment or rise on the hill covered with gnarled elm trees and shrubs. At last I saw below the rise a light in a small house, and scrambled and waded over to it, and there I was told the way. But, old boy, there was a beautiful little wooden church with a kindly light at the end of that dark road.’’ Read the complete letter

In the church, he read out various passages from the book of Acts and narrated the legend of John and Theagenes. This choice was a surprising one: two days before his sermon, he had written to his parents that he was hesitating between the subject of the Prodigal Son and Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” He evidently chose a different topic. The churchgoers may have had a difficult time understanding Vincent, for he apologised to them for his English:

“At Petersham I told the congregation that they would be hearing poor English, but that when I spoke I thought of the man in the parable who said ‘have patience with me, and I will pay thee all’, God help me.” Read the complete letter

Relevant letters from Vincent

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  1. Martin Bailey

    Young Vincent: the story of Van Gogh's years in England
    London, 1990
  2. Kristine Groenhart en Willem-Jan Verlinden

    Hoe ik van Londen houd: wandelen door het Londen van Vincent van Gogh
    Amsterdam, 2013
  3. Jan Meyers

    De jonge Vincent: jaren van vervoering en vernedering
    Amsterdam, 1989
  4. Ronald Pickvance

    English influences on Vincent Van Gogh
    London, 1974