Jezreelites

A prophetic movement built on apocalyptic visions, leading to the construction of an iconic tower.


The Jezreelites, formally known as The New and Latter House of Israel, was a religious movement founded in the late 19th century by James Jershom Jezreel, born James Rowland White. This movement, rooted in the teachings of earlier prophets like Joanna Southcott and influenced by the Christian Israelite Church, became notable for its unique interpretation of biblical prophecy, the construction of Jezreel’s Tower, and its distinct communal lifestyle.

Origins and Beliefs

James Jershom Jezreel, originally a follower of John Wroe’s Christian Israelite Church, established the Jezreelites in Chatham, Kent, after becoming convinced of his prophetic mission. Drawing from the apocalyptic expectations of the Southcottians, Jezreel authored “The Flying Roll,” which was to serve as a foundational text for his followers, advocating for a life of abstention from alcohol, though Jezreel himself struggled with alcoholism.

Jezreel’s Tower: A Symbol of Faith

The most ambitious project of the Jezreelites was the construction of Jezreel’s Tower in Gillingham, intended as a sanctuary and headquarters for the movement. Envisioned as a perfect cube to mirror the New Jerusalem described in Revelation, the tower’s design ultimately had to be modified due to practical considerations. Despite its incomplete state, the tower stood as a testament to the community’s dedication and became a significant landmark until its demolition in 1961.

Community Life and Decline

The Jezreelites formed a close-knit community, with many members contributing their trades and resources to the collective. They established various businesses around their headquarters and led a life marked by religious devotion and anticipation of the end times. However, the movement faced challenges following Jezreel’s death in 1885 and the subsequent death of his wife, Clarissa, leading to the gradual decline of the sect. By the early 20th century, the remaining Jezreelites had dwindled in number, and the tower, having failed to attract sufficient funds for completion, fell into disrepair.

Legacy

Despite its brief existence, the Jezreelites movement left an indelible mark on the local landscape and religious history. Jezreel’s Tower, even in its ruin, symbolized the fervent, albeit unfulfilled, aspirations of a group caught between divine vision and earthly realities. The sect’s ambitious projects and the enigmatic figure of Jezreel himself continue to fascinate historians and onlookers, serving as a reminder of the complexities and challenges inherent in millenarian movements.