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Christchurch

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

In  the reign of King Charles II there is a reference in Domestic State papers for 1672, an entry licensing Jonathon Smith of Tedbery, to use his house as a place of worship.  A reference in the Parish Registers between 1822-37 mentions a church formed in 1698.  For other licences issued see here.


Jonathon Smith was one of the 2000 clergy to be ejected from their living by the state for not signing up to the Act of Uniformity – his was Hempstead, GLS but the 1802 publication “The Non-Conformist’s Memorial” by Edmund Calamy and Samuel Palmer makes no mention of his time in Tetbury, it just states that he [Jonathon Smith jun.] taught at Ross [on Wye, HEF].  Note the addition of ‘jun’ that appears in the ancient book, which is a reprint of a publication from over a century earlier.


The Presbyterian Building - see Chipping Steps Burial ground


A memorial plaque on the wall of a church in Llandrindod Wells pays tribute to the Rev Thomas Jones of Tetbury, who founded the church in Llandrindod following a 30 year term of service in Tetbury where he built a church at his own expense.  He died in 1745 at the age of 70.


There is not much information following Rev Jones period of ministry apart from reference to some thorough repairs and a reopening service in 1805.


In January 1857 Thomas Page of Hanham was invited to occupy the pulpit on probation for the month, and on 5 February a letter was sent inviting him to become the new pastor.  He conducted his first meeting on 27 March 1857 and preached from Romans 15 v.30.

Land in The Chipping was purchased by the church for £160, from Henry Witchell.  The foundation stone was laid on 23 May 1861.  After the buildings completion the old chapel at the bottom of Chipping Steps became a burial ground for the Congregationalists from 1864-1945.  A note in the chapel’s register indicates that the new building opened on 2 September 1862.


On 10 March 1901 a fire in the gallery during morning worship was quickly dealt with by the Tetbury fire brigade.  The then minister, Rev. Spry managed to hold the fire at bay by pouring cold water on the flames until the fire brigade arrived.  Part of the gallery was removed as it was now unsafe.


In 1992 The Tetbury Congregationalists (or United Reformed Church, as the congregational movement joined with the URC nationally in 1972) and Methodists joined together to make the church known today as Christ Church.


MINISTERS

Chipping Steps building:

Jonathon Smith

Rev Thomas Jones c.1710-1740

Rev Davis 1805

Rev James Gough 1821-1856

Polling list of 1830s lists him as ‘minister of independent chapel, entitled to annual rent of 40s, issuing out of freehold house’ tenant was William Lamb.


At the Congregational Church building on The Chipping:

Thomas Page March 1857-1867

1859 directory lists Rev T. Page, Cotwells.

1863 directory lists Rev T. Page The Chipping

George Slatter 1868-1873

Rev James Grosvenor 1874-1877

Rev T. Wesley Brown 1879-1889

Rev Pearson Cooper 1890-1897

Rev Elijah Spry 1897-1901

Rev W.H. Dash 1902-1931

Rev Richard Ball 1931-1935

Rev T.D. Watkins 1940-1943

Mr J.B.Gotts honorary pastor 1942-1944

Rev James Vaughan 1944-1945

Rev John H. Collins 1948-1951

Rev T.Howard Owen 1952-1957

Rev R.A.Crew 1963-1967

Rev D.H.Parry Jones 1971-1990


A noteable work, written by Robert Smith, ‘Gathered Together - the history of nonconformity in Tetbury’ is worth getting if you can get hold of a copy.  Originally sold to raise funds for the Christchurch Development Appeal.


Christchurch as it is now - a congregation of both United Reform and Methodist who united to become one in 1992, the Methodists leaving their Long Street premises to meet in the building on The Chipping.  After a period of improving and redeveloping which included a closure of 11 months the church reopened in 1998