Independent Meeting to United Church 1740 to 1990 250 years of Christian Worship in Bradford on Avon - an Abstact from the book by Roger Mawby 1990
This History is mainly about the Church on this site, but wherever relevant-I have brought in details of our Vesleyan Chapel on Coppice Hill and its people. John Vesley first came to Bradford in 1739, just about the time when our Founders were seceding from the 'Grove'.
I thank Olive Korris, Freda Sinnnonds, Joyce (Jo) Uncles, Freda Sutton, Rene Allen and Dora Windo for their help at various times, the County Record Office staff for their help during my years of research, Dr. Robert Oliver of the Old Baptist Church and Rev. John Sargant of Christchurch for letting me see their register's etc. , Mr. and Mrs. Brydon of Zion Baptist for allowing me to look at their records, several people iu the town who have allowed me to see the Deeds of their houses, John Voodbridge for his advice, Betty Wishart for typing and Karen Huskisson for her services on the word processor. I would also like to thank Michael Currass for his help in the photo-copying, and Mr. Reg Quick for permission to use his illustration of the Church on the front cover, Last but not least 1 thank my wife Val most sincerely, for her patience during these last few months of concentrated effort to collect all the facts together and then write them down.
I delicate this History to the memory of Frank and Nellie Rudman, and to the Glory of God by whose power we live, and serve and work.

Chapter 1. Roots of our Meeting Page 3.
Chapter 2. Independent Meeting Page 7.
Chapter 3. Separation Page 14.
Chapter 4.Pastorate of Rev. D. Fleming Page 15.
Chapter 5.Church Families Part 1 Page 16.
Chapter 6. Independent Chapel Page 19.
Chapter 7. Congregational Church 1856-1906 Page 22.
Chapter 8. Church Families Part 2 Page 27.
Chapter 9. Pastorate of Rev. Richards Page 29.
Chapter 10. Pastorate of Rev. Bryant Page 33.
Chapter 11.Congregational Church 1946-1972 Page 35.
Chapter 12. United Reformed Church Page 40.
Chapter 13. United Reformed and Methodist Page 41,
Chapter 14.United Church Page 43.
The Author Page 51.

There can be no doubt that all or most of those who formed our Church, here on what was Morgan's Hill, attended the Grove Meeting House (now Zion Baptist). In the last quarter of the 17th century non-conformists, or dissenters as they were called, met together in houses or barns, which had to be licensed for that purpose. Their gatherings were referred to as "Meetings" and so, after the Toleration Act became law in 1689, they erected buildings for worship and these were called "Meeting Houses".
The Methuens owned most of the land in the Newtown area and the building erected in 1698, on what is now Conigre Hill, was part of a close of land called the Grove, in Budbury. A few years prior to 1698, Anthony Methuen had started leasing out plots of land in the Grove for periods of 99 years, on the understanding that those buying the leases would erect dwelling-houses, and so Lower Rank and Second Rank (Middle Rank) started to emerge.
One lease was purchased by a William Dangerfield near or where the Mason's Arms is now. This could be the same man who was the first Pastor of the "Grove Meeting".
There were several families called Deverell in Bradford; at least some of these were masons, who were erecting houses. Edward Deverell bought several of the leases and it seems quite possible that he or John Deverell built the Grove Meeting House. There is a stone tablet on Holy Trinity recording that when the Chancel was lengthened in 1707 John Deverell was the mason working for Anthony Methuen, and we know the walls of our church were built by Edward and John Deverell in 1740, undoubtedly members of the same family.
Francis Yerbury of Ashley and Thomas Bush of Bradford helped the foundation of the Grove Meeting, which was Presbyterian in it's style of worship. It was attended by wealthy landowners like the Yerburys and their friends, the Grants of Monkton Farleigh.
Also according to the record in our church book of 1820, they wrote, "That we learn by tradition that it was attended by two Members of Parliament and six or eight carriages at a time".
The record continues with, "Originally they were Evangelical in their religious principles, i.e. Calvinistic, but between 1730 and 1740 there was a growing inclination towards Arianism. Mr. Walter Grant of Monkton Farleigh, Mr. John Pitman of Bradford and others, who remained Orthodox in their principles disliked this and proceeded to oppose it".
Our 1820 account also quotes part of a letter written by John Pitman to Francis Hislop. "You know our church was driven from our old meeting for suspending Mr. Wereat because he denied Christ to be the true God or true Man."
From a list of Ministers at Zion Baptist, we know that Joshua Read was the Pastor from 1729 to 1739, and the above letter infers that eventually he had an assistant who preached Unitarian views.
The separation must have occurred at the end of 1738 because John Pitman applied for a licence for his dwelling-house on the 10th January 1739, as a place for "Meetings" to be held. Other signatories were John Harvey, Ebenezer Earle and Nathaniel Pontin. The house would appear to be the one standing in St. Margaret's Street, two houses 19 and 20 now. In a deed of 1759, he was said to be a former tenant, and in the 1820 account it says that " tradition we learn that our founders met in the house in front of the Chapel, now owned by Mr. Robert Mundy." A William Beasor and his wife lived in the house in 1693, and this short length of road to St. Margaret's Place was called Beasor Street.

The Grants or Grauntes were an old established Wiltshire family; a Walter Graunte was renting land at Cumberwell from Anthony Rogers Esq. of Bradford in 1551. Early in the 17th century they lived at Week in the Parish of Monkton Farleigh. This could be the farm which is shown on Andrews and Drurys' map of 1773 called "Wick Farm", situated between Farleigh Wick and Cumberwell. George Grant, yeoman and grandfather of our founders, bought land in the parish from Hope Long of Wraxall. George resided at Week until his death in 1683.
His son, John Grant, married Sarah King at Box in 1673, and shortly after this John purchased, land and property in and near South Wraxall for £400 from Thomas Maltman Senior, and Thomas his son, and also more property there from Robert Moxham in 1684. Mary Grant, a daughter of John and Sarah, was married to John Pitman. He was a merchant tailor and seems to have been the administrative driving force in the foundation of our Meeting House and, in fact, gave the order for it to be built. He was obviously supported by his wife's unmarried sister, Sarah Grant, who also lived in Bradford, because she bought the site. Their brother, Walter Grant, and his wife Ann gave £100 towards the cost of building the Meeting House, and the same amount was given by John and Mary Pitman.
Dr. Joshua Read was the pastoral leader but even he was said to be related to the Grant or Pitman family. He lived at Monkton Farleigh and also gave £100 for the building.
Sarah Grant made her Vill on the 6th of Bbvember 1741. After several bequests to friends and kinsfolk, she left all the residue of her estate ta^John^ Pitman and he was the Executor. The Vill was witnessed by Thomas Derrett, Ezekiel Smith and Richard Olding, and probate was granted in June 1742.
So Sarah was the first of the founders to be buried in the Meeting House.
The deeds for the site go back to 1693, when Richard Gardener, a carpenter, sold two messuages or tenements adjoining each other, with a stable, in or near St. Margaret's Street to John Plurrett, a fellmonger (who was also the first Pastor of the nearby Baptist Chapel). These two cottages (demolished in 1964) stood on the north-west side of our pathway. Included in the sale was a close of pasture land, which was 50 feet long by 42 feet wide (Meeting House site), bounded by the garden wall of William Beasor and also by a garden adjoining a tenement being erected by Edward Deverell, which seems likely to be one of those still there in St. Margaret's Place. Part of the sale also included the strip of land where our pathway is, and John Plurrett was allowed to build a tenement which could abut up against the south-west poynt end of William Beasor's tenement. The Plurretts did build, and sold it, and the adjoining house, to James and Ann Smith.
The other house, which was on the corner of Beasor Street and Morgan's Hill, was bought by Sarah Grant, and also the land, then being used as a garden and orchard, for £164 4s Od from Mary Tidcombe, a widow, and Richard Chubb, innholder, who had lent money to Ebenezer Plurrett. In the deed of sale dated the 10th of July 1740, the plot of ground was bounded on the south-east side by a garden adjoining a brewhouse, which had once been owned by James Villet and Thomas Bush. This is probably why St. Margaret's Place was formerly called Bush's Alley.
A malthouse, stable and garden was on the north-east and north-west sides, lately owned by John Cooper Esq.. By the September, the site had been cleared and the masons, Edward and John Deverell, had started to build the walls.
A Trust Deed for the property, dated the 29th of September 1740, was enrolled in the High Court of Chancery between Sarah Grant, spinster of Bradford, to Walter Grant, gentleman of Monkton Farleigh, and ten other-trustees, all from the Parish of Bradford. Among them were John Harvey, yeoman,Thomas Timbrell, baker, Robert Marvin and James Little, broadweavers and Richard Olding, tailor. (A few others are mentioned in the following chapter).
The house on the corner was probably lived in by Sarah Grant until her death in 1742, and from 1747 onwards by the minister of the church.
The Meeting House was the same width as it is now but only about 30 feet in length, or about half its present size. Until 1798 there were probably two entrance doors, (see the stonework under the windows), these led directly into the aisles. On the outside of the north-west wall was a stone tablet recording details about the masons etc. This is still there, but now this is an internal wall on the stairway leading to the Coppice Room.
The details on the front of the building must have been put there in 1835. Vis;
(This can be better seen when the sun is shining on that wall).
The application for a certificate was dated the 7th of April 1741 and was signed by Joshua Read, John Pitman, Francis Hislop and Jacob Norman.
MINISTRY 1740 - 1773

Dr. Joshua Read was obviously an elderly man in 1740 when he took the Pastoral charge. His son-in-law, Rev. Thomas Harris, moved from Saffron Walden in Essex, where he had been the Minister of an Independent Chapel. He came with his family to live with Dr. Read at Monkton Farleigh and to assist with the preaching.
In 1743 their house was registered for Presbyterian Meetings, signed by Thomas Harris and Walter Grant. James Smith made a Will in August 1744, which Joshua Read witnessed, so the doctor probably died in 1745. Eventually Mr. Harris must have moved away and Mr. Richard Winter assisted. Apparently he stayed on for one year after the doctor's death but was not the Minister.
Mr. Winter, later Dr. Winter, went to London and the Rev. Joseph Humphries settled here in 1747. His pastorate lasted about 4 years. Nothing is known of his ministry but he seems to have expected to be provided with a horse. John Pitman felt it necessary to write an account of it in 1751. "I told him Brother Grant did use now and then to lend Mr. Winter a horse but could not tell how his affairs then were. Mr. Forman told him he would lend him his when he did not use it himself, which he did till he was weary, and I paid out of my pocket for a horse, I will not say often." The letter goes on to say that if he had stayed the salary could have been upwards of £40 per year.
The Rev. Thomas Edwards was the Minister from 1756, so they appear to have been a few years without a settled Pastor. He was a clever scholar and advised John Pitman about the format of his Will and then wrote one for him. Later, with the help of Daniel Lacy, he made several copies for the trustees. It was almost certainly this Thomas Edwards who married Hannah Lacy at Holy Trinity in 1756. He served here till about 1768.
Rev. John Skirven, who was a Forth Briton, was here till about 1771, and then the Rev. John Samwell from the 25th of March 1772. He was a Doctor of Medicine and lived at Turleigh in a house owned later by Mrs. Attwood. He lived there on account of his health. He was admired and well thought of but died in May 1773 and was buried in a Baptist ground at Bristol.
MEMBERS 1740 - 1773
Our membership records and baptisms exist from 1772 but a few details are known about four of the trustees.
Thomas Derrett had a house and shop in the Market Place, which was near the Town Hall in the area at the foot of Coppice Hill and Silver Street.
His son, John Derrett, married Michal Bush and their son Jacob was among the early recorded baptisms in 1773. Jacob's daughter, Michal, married William Long in 1819. Over the years, first the Derretts, then the Longs supported this Church and also the Methodist Church through the 19th century and into this one.
Jacob Norman was a shopkeeper and Francis Hislop a linen draper. As well as being active in the church, they, with two others, were the assessors and collectors of the unpopular tax on house windows and lights in the borough of Bradford in 1748.
John lies was a slaymaker.(a slay being a device used on the loom in the wool weaving process). His workshop was enlarged in 1732, on leasehold land at the north-west end of Pidgeon Close. The site now adjoins Barton Steps and part of the land was later sold by Paul Methuen to form a carriageway to the Chantry. John was a very good friend of Methodist, Richard Pearce, who was the executor of John's Will, made in 1770. He wrote, "My wish is to be buried as near as possible to my sisters in the Meeting House on Morgan's Hill."
There were also poor people in the congregration. Sarah Grant left 50/- and her brother left 40/- in their Wills, to be shared among them.
John Pitman, in a letter to Francis Hislop and John lies about his Vill and intentions, said, "I humbly hope my end is to help towards promoting the true Gospel of Christ, so the poor may have it preached to them in power and purity."
Other members there before 1772 included Mary Bishop, Jane Coward, Lydia Harold (servant of John Pitman), Ruth Marks, Margaret Hislop (wife of Francis), Joseph Lacy and his four daughters and his son, Daniel, William Carpenter, Nicholas Davis and his wife, John and Michal Derrett, Abraham Hanny, William Little, John Pearce, John and Rebecca Selby, Joseph Spender, James Taylor and James Tucker.
James Taylor was responsible for opening the burial ground and received a fee of a crown (25p) for each one. The ground was in front of the building, now a paved area. Other burials were in the Meeting House.
John Pitman and Walter Grant, after bequests to their kinsfolk, friends and servants,left the residue of their estates to be collected in by trustees, and to be invested. John had eleven trustees six of whom were chosen by Walter. These were Rev. Richard Winter, Rev. Thomas Edwards, Francis Hislop, John lles, Thomas Derrett and Joseph Lacy. They both made their intentions known by letter and in their Wills, viz:
"For the support of a godly faithful preacher of the glorious Gospel, one sound in faith and exactly agreeing with the Westminster Assembly's Confession of Faith and Catechisms as long as Protestant dissenters are favoured with liberty of conscience.
"Let my donation be for the support of the Minister preaching in the Meeting House here in Bradford, which we built in the year Seventeen Hundred and Forty."
John Pitman made his will in March 1757 and three months later made a Declaration to the effect that he had not been persuaded, by any Minister or private Christian, in the way he had bequeathed his worldly possessions. His kinsfolk obviously expected a larger share and thought he had been influenced by Rev. Edwards. His Will was witnessed by John Derrett, John Strawbridge and Mary Chesterman; it was proved in November 1757. Walter Grant's Will was proved in May 1761. By the time new trustees were chosen in 1770, not all the money had been collected in, but by 1783 it totalled £2,144.
The income from this was about a third of the Minister's salary in the 19th century, but now inflation has eroded it's value so it would probably only pay half the Rev. John Berryman's telephone bill.
MINISTRY 1773 - 1812
The Rev.Nicholas Phene and his wife, Sarah, and family came from Hertford. His settlement service on the 28th of October 1773 was a big occasion and was supported by several neighbouring Ministers; the Rev. Thomas Bishop of Westbury preached the sermon.
The church then settled down under his pastoral care for 19 years. Members were added to a total of 78 in the whole period. Two-thirds of these were women.
Joseph Little, broadweaver of Bearfield, was an early member in 1774. He owned the land and property on the north of the Meeting House.
The best two years were 1785 and 1786, when 19 members joined the church. This was also the time when the Sunday School was founded.
John lies and Joseph Lacy and several others had died, and one or two members were suspended for disorderly conduct but the membership must have been much higher than 1772, and yet the 1820 account says that "..the Tuesday evening services were poorly attended, and if seven persons were present, the Minister would preach but if not he would suggest they held a prayer meeting."
The Rev. Phene baptised over 150 children, many of them to parents who were connected with the wool trade. He died at the age of 56 in 1792 and was buried in the Meeting House. There is a memorial plaque for this family under the gallery stairs. His eldest son, Nicholas Peter Phene, was a successful solicitor at Melksham. We have a detailed invoice for work he did in 1799 and 1800 to reduce the endowment trustees from six to four, which included journeys to London. The total cost was £13 5s. Id. (see end of chapter).
The Rev. William Dunn had been to the opening of a new "Meeting" at Yeovil and was persuaded by a friend to come here on his way back to Portsmouth. After this he preached several times, and was then called and accepted, and settled here on 2nd June 1793.
Although only 14 members were added in the 12 years of his ministry, the attendance must have been such that in 1798 they decided to make the Meeting House larger.
Trustees acting for the church were Robert Cadby, carpenter, Isaac White, shopkeeper and Charles Huntley, weaver. They acquired from John Little, yeoman, and Richard, his son, a piece of land on the north side and the building was lengthened by about 12 feet, making it almost square-shaped.
Isaac White had been serving as a Deacon since the Minister came and in 1804 Charles Huntley and Charles Daniel were appointed Deacons. At the same time it was resolved:
That it belongs to the office of Deacons in union and conjunction with the Minister to examine persons proposed for church membership, to visit the sick and those who walk disorderly, to procure and prepare the elements for the sacrament, and to distribute alms given publicly to the poor. To receive all monies gathered at the quarterly collections, to pay all bills for the lighting, cleaning and temporary repairs of the Meeting and to settle the accounts of the year at an Annual Church Meeting, and to let and regulate the sitting in the pews, and to collect the annual subscriptions for the support of the Minister.
On March the 3rd 1805 the Rev. Villiam Dunn died, aged 54, and was buried in the Worth-West alley of the Meeting House. The funeral service was taken by the Rev. Honeywell of Melksham.
At this time there were 52 members, 32 of them women, but the next Minister, the Rev. Thomas Williams, admitted 28 new members in his first year. He was formerly at an Independent Church in Westbury. His letter of acceptance was dated the 20th of November 1805. He appears to have been an exceptional preacher and during his ministry here was called out frequently to preach in large places like Bristol and London. The exertion was too much and he lost his voice and eventually, when it did not return, resigned the pastoral charge of our church on March the 25th 1812.
In the six years to 1812 over 90 people were received into membership and others were part of the congregation. Among these were William and Ann Hendy, John and Ann Vennell; these families lived in Woolley. Their children and some of their grandchildren were active in the life of the church into this century.
Also fron Woolley were Joseph and Betty Jones, who lived, and owned houses at Crown Court. Their daughter, Ruth, married John Bryant in 1826, and by the Rev. Gear's ministry, six of our church families lived in the Crown Court group of houses.
A few broad weavers lived near each other on Dry Hill (now 2, 3 and 4 Ivy Terrace), owned by Jacob Sims and Thomas Huntley. Thomas Coward was a tenant. These latter two joined the church on Christmas Day 1796.
The land on this hillside below the cottages was used as a rack ground by clothiers for drying their broadcloths, from 1696 till the business went bankrupt in 1816. The Methodists bought the land, workshops and other property, and the Coppice Hill Chapel was erected by a London builder, Mr. Evans. The rack ground was then sold to James Budgett (see the chapter about Church Families).
The Velvins of The Shambles had children baptised. James was a member. His sons were cabinet makers and his grandson, George, became a Deacon in 1865.
John and Betty Uncles had four daughters baptised. He was a member in 1808. This is the first connection of Jo Uncles's family with the church. Jo's ancestors lived in Atworth until Mathew and brother John came to Bradford to be apprenticed to members of the Gale family of clothworkers in 1782 and 1788. The Gales had workshops near the top of Bush's Alley. Mathew's son William (Jo's great-great-grandfather), Joined the Methodist Sunday School in 1818 and stayed on there to be a teacher.
It was his son, James Uncles, and his wife, Martha (nee Franklin), who started at the church here again in 1849, their association continuing to the present day.
Thomas Tuck married Sarah Alderwick in 1784. They were both members by 1809. He was a shearman.
Thomas and Mary Hart attended the church and had children baptised. He was a draper in Bradford.
Several of the Fisher family were members, William of Cockstyle in 1783, John in 1808 and Joseph, Thomas and Charles, all brothers, by 1820.
Robert, Elizabeth and their children, Charles (born in Bath), Ann and Mary (born in Corsham) moved into Bradford in 1785. Ann married James Bulgin at Holy Trinity in 1796 and their daughter, Mary Bulgin, eventually married Robert Harris, Robert and Elizabeth were members from 1785 and he was a building trustee the following year. They were all good benefactors to the church and life-long members, actively supporting each minister.
Robert and Charles were carpenters and must have employed masons because, by 1807, they lived in a house newly-erected by them in Folly Road, now No. 3 Trowbridge Road. There was a paddock and pasture-land behind the garden, and land at the side for access to their workshop and yard. Charles retired after 1841 and another house was built adjoining, on the land at the side, now No. 1.
Robert Harris was a currier with premises in Whiteheads Lane and Cut Lane. He and Mary lived at Kingston Cottage, but retired and went to live next to Charles and Mary before 1851.
Robert Cadby, in 1805, bought houses on Morgan's Hill from the executors of Clement Plurrett (grandson of John) for £105, which stood on the site of the Schoolroom. Ou his death in 1815 these passed to his daughter Mary. He left houses on Tory to Charles and Ann.
On the 8th of December 1818, Charles paid £174 at an auction In Trowbridge from V.G. Burcombe's excutors (see chapter 4) for the house adjoining our pathway. After his death it was given to the church. Charles owned quite a few houses in the town, and near the top of Vine Street on the east side was a terrace of four-storey tenements erected by him in the 1820 period, known in his lifetime as Cadby Buildings.
Charles Cadby died in April 1856 and was buried in the family vault in the lobby by the Rev. Thomas Mann of Trowbridge. This was the last burial on our premises. The cemetery opened later that year and william Hawell was the first of our members to be buried there in 1857
SEPARATION 1812 to 1815
Mr. William Coombs, a student, preached here for over a year and appears to have been acceptable to many of the members and congregation, and was about to be ordained and invited to take pastoral charge. The 1740 deeds of the Meeting House, in which eleven trustees were enrolled and subsequently renewed (to replace those who had died) in 1770, 1786 and 1807, implied that they had the power to appoint and dismiss the Minister. In 1807 these were Daniel Bird, Joseph Jones, Thomas Tuck, James Earle, Thomas Hunt ley, Charles Daniel, Robert Cadby, Samuel Jones, James Bulgin, James Howard and John Jennings.
Who objected to Mr. Coombs is not recorded but, instead of an ordination, a separation took place and William Coombs received permission to use the Grove Meeting House (whose congregation by then had dwindled and it was not being used). A considerable number of both church and congregation left with him and formed a separate interest.
Various Ministers supplied our pulpit but others supported those at the Grove, because they also disagreed with the principle that the trustees had authority in regard to appointing a Minister. Much bitterness ensued between the two factions and some of the most upright and honourable characters were upset and offended. Eventually on November the 29th 1815, the trustees made a resolution renouncing all power, real or supposed, to be in the deed of trust, either of electing or dismissing any future Pastor or Minister of this church.
During this time, the Rev. V. Vowles had resided here on a six months' trial but his wife could not settle and they left the town. Three Deacons of this period were Charles Daniel, James Bulgin and Thomas Tuck and they, on behalf of the church, invited the Rev. Daniel Fleming to preach in August 1815, on the recommendation of the Rev. Lowell of Bristol.
After several visits, he was called and agreed to come, and in a letter dated the 3rd of February 1816, he wrote that, "God, even our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the ever Blessed Spirit, may make this solemn connection now formed a mutual blessing for our present, spiritual and everlasting welfare."
The Rev. Daniel Fleming was educated for the ministry at Mile End Academy, London, and served as a student assistant at West Orchard, Coventry, under the Rev. George Burder. From there he went to Nuneaton, also in Warwickshire, and was ordained on the 6th of August 1793 and stayed there until 1800. He also served at St. Pauls, Vigan, Cork in Ireland, and was at Angel Street, Worcester, from 1814 until moving here with his family.
Jennett Fleming was received into membership in 1819, possibly his sister and in a Directory for 1822 was running a Day School near the Parish Churchyard. Also listed is Daniel Fleming, Boarding and Day School at Vellclose. I think this must have been our Minister.
The separation issue was settled in 1816 by a meeting of Ministers, Deacons and representatives of both societies. (The Town Hall was in a poor condition and fell down in 1820, so meetings were usually held at the Swan Inn or, as in this case, the New Bear Inn, now Silver Street House.) They spent the whole day together and agreed to forget the past as much as possible and that they should try to live in friendship. Some people camu back to our church, others stayed at the Grove. Mr. Coombs was ordained and was their Pastor.
The house owned by James Smith and later by Ann, his widow, was left to her nephew, William Goodall Burcombe, who rented it out as two houses. After his death in 1816, all property was sold. James Bulgin, on behalf of the church, paid £170 for the smallest house in February 1817, which was then pulled down to form a paved road to lead to the Chapel and to have neat iron gates on the front. The cost of £270 was covered by subscriptions. The Cadbys gave £100, James Bulgin £50, and Mary Finch of Fairfield Farm gave £20. The rest was donated by the Minister and congregation in smaller amounts.
At a general church meeting held on Christmas Day 1818, it was decided to write an account of the rise, progress and present state of this Christian Society "to hand down to those whom God may raise up to be our successors." They found it a difficult task. Documents were few and not easy to obtain. It seems to have been completed by 1820 and is recorded in the Church Book. I have found it very helpful and refer to it several times.
Account records exist in part from 1823. James Bulgin had looked after the finances of the church and when he died in 1826 Robert Harris took this on.
The last baptisms by the Rev. Fleming were in January 1829. One of these was Thomas Vennell, son of Joseph and Frances and grandson of John of Woolley, who was by this time a Deacon.
On the 2nd of October 1829 our much esteemed and honoured Pastor died and was buried in the Chapel.

Thomas Ball Silcock was bom at Rode in 1797. He joined our Church in 1818, and was soon actively involved as Superintendent of the Sunday School. In 1839 he was elected a Deacon, and later was Church Treasurer.
He was a Millwright and lived with his first wife, Hester, at Staverton. After she died he married a widow, Harriet Relph, at her church, the Old Baptist, in 1842, and then they lived at her house in the Alley - now No. 6 St. Margaret's Place. Harriet died in 1851 and was buried with Hester in the family grave near the Schoolroom door.
Thomas then married one of our Members, Amelia Milsom, (daughter of Charles and Eliza) in our Chapel on the 23rd of August 1853. They had two sons, the eldest named after his father, T.B. Silcock, became an architect and was the designer of the Fitzmaurice Grammar School, which was built in 1897. He and his brother, Percy Howard, were appointed Trustees of the endowment, the same year.
Thomas and Amelia, and her mother and father are buried in the Cemetery. Their imposing stone monument, gradually deteriorating, is near Mary Cadby's at the bottom end near the path.
Charles Milsom was admitted a member in December 1822. His father, James, died a few months before and left to Charles his newly built house with Blacksmith's shop adjoining in Bridge Street, now part of the site for the new Library.
Mary, widow of James, became a member in 1823. She lived on Back Steps, now St. Margaret's Steps. She owned two houses there, now the home of Peter and Lyn Adams.
Charles's wife, Eliza, was a member by 1825. Their children were all baptised in the Chapel, as were the younger children of William and Elizabeth Coles. The Coles owned houses near the Milsoms in Bridge Street, and also houses and the Iron Foundry on the Trowbridge Boad.
Elizabeth Coles was buried in front of the Chapel in 1844, so when William and their son Thomas died in 1858, Thomas Silcock bought the houses and foundry, and George Milsom, (born 1834) took over the business, which he eventually changed to include Agricultural Engineering.
Jo Uncles "s Grandfather, Berkley, born 1857, became an apprentice to George Milsom and when George retired in 1899, Berkley took the business over.
James Budgett and his wife Ann, joined our Church in 1825, and within a year he was a Deacon. He was a prosperous grocer, and owned houses in the town. James lived in his large new house built in 1824 (now 3 Masons Lane) on land formerly used as a rack ground.
James, and his first wife Jenny and children, were staunch Methodists and attended the Maidenhead Chapel in Pippet Street, now Market Street, until the new one was erected on Coppice Hill in 1818, where they were all actively involved. His son James Payne Budgett stayed there and was trustee and lifelong member.
William Taylor was a saddler and rope maker in Church Street. He married Betty Byfield and they had eight sons, seven of them were baptised in the Chapel from 1802.
Two of them were Thomas and Emanuel, chemists and wine merchants. Edward took over the rope making and attended the Church. His son was buried in the family vault at the side of the pathway, where William was buried in 1847.
Another son Cornelius, took on the saddlery business. He and his wife were members, and he was appointed endowment trustee in 1856. (Another Taylor family are mentioned in Chapter 6 ).
William and Michal became members in 1826. They had four sons, James, William, John and Charles all builders or carpenters in Bradford, represented now by Michael of Newtown, whose daughter Kim attends our Church. They are descended from the youngest son, Charles.
James and John were members of our Coppice Hill Chapel where James was a trustee and benefactor. William, Junior, was married twice, his first wife was buried with his sister near the pathway. His children were all baptised here and they lived in front of the Chapel from 1847 until he built Albert Terrace and Cottage in 1863. Incidentally, after the Railway was opened in 1858, he bought surplus land and built Victoria Terrace.
George and Eliza Joined our Church in 1823 and were actively involved for the rest of their lives, as were some of their children and grandchildren. George Summers was born in Frampton in Gloucestershire, and was a blacksmith with premises in Pippet Street, now Market Street, which remained in their family and was later run by his grandson, Frank, until 1922. The site of the blacksmith shop, now Carter and Harding, was fornerly Mr. and Mrs. Greens' Cycle and Toy Shop.
His eldest son, Henry Aland Summers was married to Eliza Jotham in our Chapel in 1851 by the Rev. Gear. Her mother Catherine, had married Aaron Bishop, a baker and confectioner with premises in Church Street, and so Henry and Eliza's children followed into that trade. By 1881, four of them worked in Henry Summers's bakery and cake shop in the Shambles, now a book shop and travel agent. William Summers married Alice Uncles (Jo's aunt) and they kept the shop (now Banks) during this century

The Rev. William Gear came here from another Independent Chapel in Market Harborough in Leicestershire. His wife's family, the Greens, were members there. He married Ann Green in 1826 in that town. Members of her family, Villiam and his sister Frances Green, were living here by 1851.
Rev. Gear commenced his pastorate on the first Sabbath in September 1830, he was about 35 years old. There were six deacons to assist him, James Budgett, Thomas Hopkins (who also came from Coppice Hill), Robert Harris, Thomas Tuck, Robert Barton and John Vennell of Voolley. He seems to have been an excellent minister and within a few years, the Chapel was too small to accommodate all those who wanted to come.
In February 1835 a conveyance was signed for a piece of land on the north side of the Chapel, measuring 37' 3" by 13' 4", this was still owned by the Littles . Thomas Tuck on behalf of the Church paid £30 to Bartlett Little, attorney for Jane Little, widow, of Thurlestone House, Warminster.
The enlargement to its present day size included raising the roof 4', and covering it with slate. This work was done by Richard Newman, builder of Bearfield.
Until this time the Sunday School had used the old Quaker Meeting House, known as the British School, which was near St. Margaret's Hall, now a carpark. So it was decided to erect a schoolroom near the Chapel. Mary Cadby gave the land, where a decaying tenement stood, lately occupied by Robert Bull. Our member, William Long, mason, was the lowest tender and was awarded the contract.
The entire cost for the Chapel, Schoolroom and appointing new trustees (to replace those who had died), also including fitting up gaslights and stove was £567 6s 6d. (NOTE the Gasworks opened in 1834 on what is now Frome Road). Donations and a collection at the re-opening raised almost £478, which left a debt of about £89. This was paid by Charles Cadby until more money was available. All the sittings below, and many in the gallery were taken before the re-opening on August 16th by the Rev. Elliot of Devizes.
The Marriage Act of 1836 allowed marriages to be solemnised in the Nonconformist Chapels, providing a civil registrar was present. For identification ours was called the "Old Independent Chapel, Bradford, Wiltshire." Rev. Gear's third ceremony was for William Taylor's family. Confusingly there were four William Taylors, who were attending our Church.
William Taylor, the grocer's wife was Mary, and they lived in the Old Manor House, Whiteheads Lane. It was their daughter Mary who married Stephen Gishford in June 1839. This William also owned a lot of other property in Bradford, including the house 8 Masons Lane, where Rev. Gear and his wife lived for over 30 years. His sons were William junior, Malster, trustee of endowment in 1856, later Church organist until his death in 1894 and Samuel, a draper, with a shop in the Shambles. He was in charge of the Church music, organ and choir etc..
Our Minister married two of our members on the 25th of March 1842, Jonah Bendle, widower and Jane Slugg, widow. All Jonah's children by his first wife Charlotte, were baptised in the Chapel, the first being Hannah in 1827. She in due course married George Andrews at the Parish Church. These were the grandparents, on her mother's side, of our member Mrs. Dora Windo who was actively involved with our Methodist Chapel for most of her life.
Jonah and Jane and several of the younger children emigrated to America in 1849, where some of their descendants live.
Thomas Coward died in 1837 and was buried near the steps to the men's gallery. These were on the outside of the building at the front and the outline of the doorway can be seen in the stonework on the south earner.
As 1840 approached, they decided to celebrate the centenary, with special services of thanksgiving, on the Sabbath the 5th of January. They also assembled together on the Saturday evening. A prayer meeting was held on the Monday evening, to coincide with all churches in England, Scotland and America, as a day fixed for general intercession.
Several Baptist families attended our Church from 1843, one was a surgeon, Channing Pearce, baptised here in 1811. His surgery was in St. Margaret's Street, where he rented the house (now the Liberal Club), and its large garden, paddock, coach house and stables, the latter being on Morgan's Hill. William and Michal Long were his neighbours; these properties were owned by General Shrapnell.
These were difficult years for the people of the town and district. Many clothiers were bankrupt with, or after the financial collapse of the Hobhouse Bank in Church Street in 1841. This effected everyone. Many of our congregation were either out of work, or those who were tradesmen and shopkeepers had less money, so the £89 owing to Charles Cadby from 1835 had not been paid. Gradually trade was improving, and the Edmonds , who supported our church, were still in business, so Thomas Silcock managed to collect half the amount in 1846 and the Cadbys and Bulgins paid the remainder.
Mr. Stephen Moulton bought the empty woollen mills in 1848, and started the manufacture of rubber products, so from that time some of our congregation and members worked there.
In 1850, the schoolroom was not large enough to accommodate the boys, who still met at the British School, so the building as we know it was erected. Another of the Cadby cottges was pulled down to give sufficient land, which Mary Cadby donated, (see Appendix i). Also at that time the Vestry, being very small, was rebuilt larger and with a separate room for the Minister, (the outer Vestry was eventually used as a kitchen, and the layout changed again in 1981 when the link area was redeveloped). The work took almost 4 months and the cost of nearly £350 was paid off within a year.
The organ was mentioned for the first time in 1854, when it was repaired and improved by adding bass pipes to G G at a cost of £32.
Rev. Vllliam Gear's salary varied but was over £150 per year. Seats were numbered 1 to 19. The smallest rent was l-3d (6p) per quarter, rising to £2 each for Mary Cadby and her widowed sister, Ann Bulgin. Mrs. Vilton and her mother, Mrs. Ann Bulgin (widow of Thomas), paid 10/- (5Op) per quarter for seat no. 12. Total seat rents were almost £50 in 1850, but less after he resigned in 1856. He preached his last sermon, based on Hebrews 13 verses 20 and 21, on Easter Sunday, to a very large congregation. He only had one years retirement and died in 1857 and was buried in the cemetery. His wife continued to live on Mason's Lane until her death in 1878.
1856 - 1874

Rev. Patrick Morrison was the Pastor from October 1856 and he was carefully vetted before the call. He preached on four Sabbaths and took part in 16 different services. Prior to coining here, he was at an Independent Church in Cocker-mouth, Cumberland and had also served in several Scottish Churches.
It is difficult to define when the Church became Congregational. Ve know they used the New Congregational Hymn Book from 1859.
During Rev. Morrison's Pastorate about 44 people were admitted or transferred into membership, and 77 children were baptised. Among these were Jo Uncles's grandparents who, by coincidence, were both baptised on September 25th 1859, her grandmother being Sarah Anne Randell, daughter of James and Mary Anne who lived near the Canal Lock. (Sarah married Berkley Uncles in 1878).
In August 1861 repairs and alterations to the Chapel, Vestry and schoolroom were done. This included new gas pendants and pedestals, and painting and varnishing the pews, galleries, doors and windows. Few frosted glass was put in the two windows behind the Pulpit. The cost was about £97. Most was raised by subscription and a collection on the re-opening.
Rev. Morrison was unable to preach due to ill health from 1863 and eventually resigned in April 1865. He was presented with a purse containing 66 sovereigns by Robert Harris on behalf of the Church. The Pastor was quite overcame by this token of love and esteem. Towards the end of that year, Samuel Taylor reported that the organ needed repairs etc., so Mr. Sweetland of Bath carried this out and also improvements for £133. This was paid for by Robert Harris and Lydia Bulgin in memory of two relatives who had taken a lively interest in the choir.
George Velvin, a member for 25 years, and Joseph Sparks, a member for 20 years, together with Villiam Jotham, the brother-in—law of Henry Summers, were appointed Deacons in March 1863.
In September 1866 only three building trustees were alive. These were Robert Harris and Thomas Silcock, both termed gentlemen, and George Summers, whitesmith. Bight others were appointed: James Randell, coal merchant, Arthur Bainton and Benjamin Carrier, clothworkers, Alfred Mayell, carpenter and builder, William Jotham, baker, Samuel Bartlett, dyer, John Vennell, india rubber worker and George Velvin, cabinet maker.
During the next ten years, two Ministers were in charge. The first, Rev. Villiam Bassett, came from Fordingbridge. Many Ministers from sister Churches at Bath, Trowbridge, Holt, Melksham and Corsham attended his settlement service an the 15th of November 1866. Prayer was offered by the Rev. Mr. Smith of Holt and the Rev. T. Mann of Trowbridge gave the address on Pastoral Relationships. Rev. Bassett came with great hopes, but things did not work out too well for him .There was poor attendance at Church Meetings and the weekly offerings dropped. The amount was displayed in the lobby every Sabbath, so he resigned in 1870.
The Rev. George Vallis settled here in December 1871. He seems to have been very good and was well liked. The church improved under his ministry, but his health gradually deteriorated through 1873 and he died in the summer of 1874 which was a great loss to the Church.
In 1876, Thomas Silcock resigned as Treasurer of the Church and two years later his position as the Superintendent, having served the school for 60 years. He was warmly thanked for all his efforts for the Church over all those years. Mrs. Silcock also resigned as a teacher. Special prayers were said for both of them and for the future of the school.
1875 - 1906
Through the recommendation of the Rev. William Martin of Bath, the Rev. Benjamin Beddow was the Pastor from the 30th of May 1875. He and his wife, Lucy, came from the Church at Vanstead, Essex, but lived in Snaresbrook (where John Woodbridge was born). Two Bradford Ministers were present at a Public Meeting and Tea. These were the Rev. R. H. Powell (Baptist), and Rev. J. Howard (Veslyan). Rev. Thomas Mann of Trowbridge gave the address.
The Minister was 64 when he came and he worked hard for the Church and, the County Union. The Autumnal Meeting for the latter was held in Bradford in August 1879. Rev. Beddow took the chair at some of the sessions, and Mr. Haden of Trowbridge presided over the Public Meeting. A dinner was provided for the delegates at the Town Hall (this was the new one erected in 1854 by two builders, one of them being James Long, son of William and Michal. This is now the Catholic Church). In 1882 there was some criticism of the Minister not being strong enough for the work, and he offered to resign, but stayed on and retired in 1883 to wait his turn for a pension from the Pastors' Retirement Fund. He agreed to supply the Pulpit until a successor was found and a few years later, during his retirement, was officially recognised as a Deacon.
At a Tea in July 1883, a large number of friends assembled to pay tribute to his work. G. M. Haden presided at the Public Meeting, where £106-3-6 was presented to Benjamin Beddow, £69 from his friends in the County Union, and the rest from members and friends of our Church.
There is an enlarged framed photograph, which was presented to the Church in 1930 by Mrs. Selina Valton. It was taken in Temple Field on the Holt Road in 1880. A copy of this is in the book "Pictorial Record of Bradford". Among those featured are Rev. Beddow, the Vennell brothers, William Jotham, William Hunt, Alfred Mayell, Thomas and Amelia Silcock, Henry Summers and his son George aged 13, Benjamin Carrier, William Howell, George Rudman and his daughter Julia, Eliza Milsom and her daughter Jane Milsom, George Velvin's widow and Rose Randell.
Towards the end of 1883, Mr. C. W. Cliffe, a student at the Congregational Theological Institute in Bristol, became the Pastor on a years probation and continued at college for 6 months. His Ordination on Tuesday the 6th of January was the first to take place in our Chapel. About 100 friends attended the Tea, and the service followed in the Chapel at 7.00 p.m.. This was presided over by Rev. Thomas Mann, secretary of the Wiltshire and East Somerset Congregational Union. Several local Ministers from the town took part and the Tutor of the College in Bristol, Rev. J. B. Knight also attended. Mr. Cliffe's former Pastor from Whitfield Congregational Church, Bristol, the Rev. S. W. McAll M.A. gave the charge, and Henry Summers, senior Deacon, acted for the Church.
Later that year United Evangelistic services were held in the Town Hall for two weeks, and about the same time, we became affiliated to the Congregational Union of England and Wales. Two week night services were being held, but the preaching service was moved to Wednesday in keeping with others in the town.
The organists were officially recognised and their appointments recorded: Mr. William Taylor, Organist and Mr. Henry Hendy, Deputy, The latter played Sunday evening and for weekday services.
The finances of the Church were a problem by 1886. The Minister had received £125 per year but the Church wanted to reduce this to £100, and there was some criticism from members so he resigned early in 1887.
Rev. William Attwell settled here in October 1887. Formerly he lived in Bristol and came knowing that the Pastorate would be a difficult one and the stipend could only be £25 per quarter. Things progressed well in the beginning and the life of the Church improved with prayer meetings on Saturday evenings well attended, and Mothers' meetings on weeknights. In addition, Mrs. Silcock led a service for women on Sunday afternoons.
The Treasurer, Henry Summers, reported income was good and paid the Pastor £10 extra in 1888 and 1889. However, this was in breach of a resolution of September 1887, whereby he should have paid all the balance to Rev. Attwell and so this led to strife, which caused Mr. Summers to resign from all his Offices and his membership, and he withdrew from the Church early in 1891.
This brought sadness to many in the Church in view of his past service, and that of his much respected father. The Pastor tried to get him to reconsider without success, and John Vennell also resigned as Deacon due to ill health. He lived next to his brother, Thomas, on Voolley Terrace.
It had been resolved in 1890 that a committee should be elected to represent the Church and Congregation to assist the Deacons and Minister run the Church. So, Thomas Vennell, William Hunt, Sidney Byers and Eev. George Moore (a retired Minister) were elected to the Diaconate and Messrs Bendy and Alfred Blackmore to represent the congregation and William Porter and J. Vennell for the Church. Thomas Vennell became Treasurer.
In 1892 the lobby was unsafe so it was removed, and the exterior where it abutted the front wall was cleaned to make it blend in. A new lobby was farmed inside, by erecting a wooden partition under the organ gallery. The work was done by John Long (Methodist, son of William and Michal).
The Sunday School had 161 scholars in 1893 with 17 teachers. Four of these were men: Frederick Joseph Vennell was secretary and his father Thomas was Superintendent, Alfred Young Mayell was Treasurer (he was baptised here in 1870 and was the son of Alfred). Jo Uncles has a photo taken about this time, showing the senior boys Bible Class. Among them were Jo's father Howard and his brother Bert Uncles, and William Alfred Porter, (see page 26).
The financial position was worse during the next few years due to a general recession and the Pastor was asked to accept less than £100 per annum. He resigned in June 1898 and soon after this Henry Summers resumed his membership. Thomas Vennell was senior Deacon and presided at Church meetings.
Rev. E. M. Potter was our Minister from January 1901. He was paid £25 per quarter to 1904 and then only £20 per quarter. The re-seating of the Church was continually discussed but little could be done.
The forerunner of our Door Stewards started in 1904 when George Tiley was appointed to show strangers to their seats, and by 1906 three more were elected. These were brothers Sidney and George Bailey and F. J. Vennell. Daniel J. Coward was Secretary, and Sidney Bailey, Treasurer, with William Porter and Arthur Dowdle on the committee and seat rent collectors. Tea committee were Mrs. Alice Dowdle, Miss Agnes Vennell, Miss Gertrude Porter and Mrs. Jane Randell.
Rev. Potter was ill in the Spring and died in June 1905 and was buried in the cemetery,Henry Summers was elected President of the Church until Rev. W.L. Cockcroft settled here in January 1906. He came from Halifax. He seemed to be popular, with several proposed for membership and the Church elected a fund raising committee for re-seating. However, there were problems with the Minister's This brought sadness to many in the Church in view of his past service, and that of his much respected father. The Pastor tried to get him to reconsider without success, and John Vennell also resigned as Deacon due to ill health. He lived next to his brother, Thomas, on Voolley Terrace.
It had been resolved in 1890 that a committee should be elected to represent the Church and Congregation to assist the Deacons and Minister run the Church. So, Thomas Vennell, Villiam Hunt, Sidney Eyers and Rev. George Moore (a retired Minister) were elected to the Diaconate and Messrs Bendy and Alfred Blackmore to represent the congregation and William Porter and J. Vennell for the Church. Thomas Vennell became Treasurer.
In 1892 the lobby was unsafe so it was removed, and the exterior where it abutted the front wall was cleaned to make it blend in. A new lobby was farmed inside, by erecting a wooden partition under the organ gallery. The work was done by John Long (Methodist, son of William and Michal).
The Sunday School had 161 scholars in 1893 with 17 teachers. Four of these were men: Frederick Joseph Vennell was secretary and his father Thomas was Superintendent, Alfred Young Mayell was Treasurer (he was baptised here in 1870 and was the son of Alfred). Jo Uncles has a photo taken about this time, showing the senior boys Bible Class. Among them were Jo's father Howard and his brother Bert Uncles, and William Alfred Porter, (see page 26).
The financial position was worse during the next few years due to a general recession and the Pastor was asked to accept less than £100 per annum. He resigned in June 1898 and soon after this Henry Summers resumed his membership. Thomas Vennell was senior Deacon and presided at Church meetings.
Rev. E. M. Potter was our Minister from January 1901. He was paid £25 per quarter to 1904 and then only £20 per quarter. The re-seating of the Church was continually discussed but little could be done.
The forerunner of our Door Stewards started in 1904 when George Tiley was appointed to show strangers to their seats, and by 1906 three more were elected. These were brothers Sidney and George Bailey and F. J. Vennell. Daniel J. Coward was Secretary, and Sidney Bailey, Treasurer, with Villiam Porter and Arthur Dowdle on the committee and seat rent collectors. Tea committee were Mrs. Alice Dowdle, Miss Agnes Vennell, Miss Gertrude Porter and Mrs. Jane Randell.
Rev. Patter was ill in the Spring and died in June 1905 and was buried in the cemetery,
Henry Summers was elected President of the Church until Rev. V.L. Cockcroft settled here in January 1906. He came from Halifax. He seemed to be popular, with several proposed for membership and the Church elected a fund raising committee for re-seating. However, there were problems with the Minister's private life, and he was asked to resign, which he did on October 8th after 9 months' service.
William and Elizabeth (nee Morris) with their eldest son, Villiam Alfred, were all born in Trowbridge. They moved to Bradford, and from April 1883 had four children baptised in our chapel. Their membership was transferred from the Tabernacle to us in 1884. William Porter was a small man, but full of vitality. He served the Church on various committees, and was a Deacon from 1894. He was an engineer and worked at Applegate's factory in Greenland Mills and later at Spencer Moulton's.
They had three daughters who were all married here. Alice Gertrude to Sidney Bailey in 1906, Edith Ellen to William Archard in 1908 and Elsie Rose to Ernest Tucker in 1917. The Baileys, the Archards, and eventually their children all became members. Freda (Archard) widow of Fred Sutton, lives in Bristol, but still attends some of the services here, and retains her membership.
William and Elizabeth's other son, George Henry Porter, was born in 1895. His daughter, Audrey Sheridan (living in The U.S.A.) has twice donated money in his memory "..for the little Chapel he was so fond of in his youth." The £1,000 recently received was appropriately used towards the new heaters in the schoolroom. Her grandfather was Superintendent of the Sunday School from 1897 to 1930.
Freda says "..that the Porter piano was transported on a wooden truck, from their home on the Trowbridge Road to the Schoolroom, for concerts and socials."
The Porters' eldest son William and his wife had the Newsagents shop (now Banks') in St. Margaret's Street until 1939. Olive Morris worked for them. Incidentally, before that, the shop was owned by James and Jane Randell. Elizabeth's sister, Sarah Anne Morris, married Frederick Sage at the Tabernacle in 1875 and they became members here in June 1909. Note, these Morrises were not related to Olive's family).
The Chapel Keeper's cottage adjoined the Schoolroom. The roof line can still be seen on the south wall. Thomas and Elizabeth Stevens became members and lived there from 1834. He was the Keeper till his death in 1882 and his widow died in 1884.
Villiam and Selina Burnett were living in this cottage by 1S8S, His Keeper's salary was £2-2-6 per quarter, but he paid back £1-2-6 in rent. They had a big family, and another room was formed in 1892 at a cost of £10 and would appear to be our basement roam. The steps recently uncovered which led from the cottage, now provide access into the car park.
William's son Henry, received 5/- each quarter for his duties as Organ Blower. He eventually married Laura Mead and they became members. It is their daughter Rene Allen, who is a member now, and we were sad to lose her sister Ethel Bigwood recently.
Another son Percy Burnett was in the choir. He died in the 1918 Var and there is a plaque in his memory on the north wall of the Church near the piano. Their sister, Kate Burnett, married Benjamin Godwin and their twin daughters, Ivy and Myrtle, were baptised here on Christmas day 1912 and became members in 1932. Millicent Burnett married a Mr. Nicholls and lived in the Church cottage on the corner, 17 St. Margaret's Street. She became a member in 1927, and her daughter, Dorothy, in 1928.
William Dowdle accepted the office of Organist on the 1st of June 1894, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Henry Hendy. William was formerly the Organist at Christchurch, and Louisa his wife, and their children attended there. In 1881 they lived on the Bath Road, and later lived in Bridge Street, he was a foreman at the Greenland Cloth Mills.
The family all moved to our Church and several of the children were married here: Thomas to Mary J. Dainton, Emily Louise to John Vennell, Arthur to Alice Hunt and Richard to Kate Uncles (Jo's Aunt). They were all members, including another son Villiam and sister Julia.
Louisa Dowdle, the sister of William senior, married William Harrold and it was their daughter, also called Louisa, who was a member from 1894. She married Alfred Henry Morris here on the 25th of April 1900. The ceremony was taken by Rev. James Hacking, Minister at the Old Baptist.
Louisa Harrold and her aunt, Julia Dowdle, lived at 3 St. Margaret's Place, and were probably neighbours of Rev. Hacking. Alfred and Louisa had several children, Ellen Louisa (Nellie), Olive, Alfreda (known to us as Freda Simmonds) and a son Harold. All attended the Sunday School and eventually were members.
The Rev. Villiam B. Richards settled here in December 1907, he came from Aberdare in Vales. He was a bachelor and lived with the Dowdles. The Church committee meetings were attended by the Pastor, David Robson, James Randall, William Porter, William and Arthur Dawdle and after 1911 by Frederick Sage, Edwin Read and Alfred Morris.
They decided in 1908, to provide envelopes for the weekly offertory, the weekly average then was 13/6d (67p), and that it should be taken forward as we do now.
Members admitted to 1911 included Mrs. Cable, Kiss Alice Uncles, Mrs. S. Uncles, Mrs. R. Drew, Mr. Villiam Villis, Mr. and Mrs. Read from Vestbury, Kiss Sage, Alfred Morris and Mrs. Richards by transfer from Valsall. The Pastor married Florence Ethel Gittings in Walsall on September 20th 1911. She was the daughter of John Gittings and Emily (nee Long) who had married at Coppice Hill in 1872. Emily was the eldest daughter of James Long.
Rev. and Mrs. Richards lived in Iona Terrace, Frome Road (built by Walter Long about 1890. He was the son of William junior). James Long and his wife Ellen, lived at 'Ferndale' in St. Margaret's Street opposite Albert Terrace. James died in 1911 and his widow died in 1915. Following this the Richards resided at 'Ferndale1, next door to the Methodist Minister, Rev. George E. Southall.
Mrs. Richards's uncle was Alfred Long, an architect, who lived at West Bromwich. He agreed to draw up a specification for the long awaited re-seating and renovation, and although the Church had only raised £166 they decided to invite tenders for the work. The contracts were awarded to Mr. Henry Alexander, (Methodist), £266 for re-seating, and to Mr. V. Hulbert £70 for redecoration, as these were the lowest tenders.
The work included removing the outside steps to the men's gallery, and fitting new ones Inside, as they are now with a new partition. The pews were the old horse box type and were replaced with the ones we sit on now. The redecorating was to include scroll work on the ceiling as it was until 1985. Everything was specified on 12 sheets of foolscap as to how many coats of varnish, and the type for the pews etc..
It was a big step forward in Faith for they owed the contractors a lot of money by the end of 1913 when it was completed.
There is a large framed photograph of the re-seating and renovation committee taken in November 1913. Those on it were, Rev. Attwell (former Pastor), Rev. Villiam B. Richards, Daniel Coward, secretary, Villiam Porter, treasurer, Frederick Sage, Richard Dawdle, H. Farr, Sidney Bailey, William Dowdle, William Willis and James Randell. (see page 32). Olive's father, Alfred Morris, also on the committee died in the April at the age of 36. Olive was about 10 and is the only member of our Church now, that can remember how the interior was before 1913.
The two stained glass windows behind the Pulpit were not in the specifications, but Olive says they were put in at that time. They were presented by a member of James Long's family, an aunt of Mrs. Richards. As the Church Minutes are missing for the period 1913 to 1933, no other details are known.
The daughters of James Long were talented. Sophia played the organ at Coppice Hill, and Florence Richards had the Gift and was also trained as a music teacher. She was a great asset to the Church, and worked with the children for concerts and anniversar5 us.
On September the 14th 1990, it will be 75 years since a group of ladies met to consider a "Bright hour for women". Those elected to the committee were Mrs. V. Attwell, President, Mrs. Florence Richards, Vice-President, Mrs. H. Watts, Secretary, and Mrs. A. Morris, Treasurer (Olive's mother). Mrs. V. Porter proposed the first meeting be on Thursday 23rd at 2.45 p.m.
Those who attended at the start and during the early years were Mrs. Sarah Sage, Edith and Sarah Uncles (Jo's mother and grandmother), Mrs. Jane Randell, Laura Burnett (Rene's mother, later Treasurer for many years), Edith Archard, Gertrude Bailey (sisters), Kate Godwin, Kate Dowdle, Mrs. Drew, Isobel Blair, Mrs. Lailey, Mrs. Sartain, Mrs. Bewman, Mrs. Aldridge, Mrs. Hazell (mother of Ron), Mrs. Bathard and Mrs. Mock, the latter ones being Methodist. They went on outings by Horse and Brake or by Motor Charabanc depending on the distance. In 1919, 56 members and friends went to Veils, Cheddar and Weston-Super—Mare.
During his Pastorate the Rev. Richards married about 16 couples. One of these, in 1917 was Herbert William Walter to Edith Dobson. Edith was a Sunday School teacher in 1912 and was elected treasurer of the school from her marriage until 1939, and then from 1945 to 1962 was the Superintendent.
Her mother looked after the Weighbridge near Peter Adams's workshop. Before her marriage she was Sarah Ann Derrett. Her family had lived in the vicinity of the Church, and were grocers and tallow chandlers, descended from our founder member Thomas Derrett. Edith and her husband and family lived in the Church Cottage next to the pathway, 18 St. Margaret's Street.
Another marriage was Stanley Howard Long to Ivy Pearl Palmer (the Palmers were Methodists). These were the parents of Michael Long.
The last ceremony by Rev. Richards was on the 6th of March 1926, Frank Stuart Rudman of Newtown to Ellen (Hellie) Morris of the Folly, the parents of twins, Mary and John. Mary has been a member since 1951. Frank became a member in 1927 and was soon involved as a Deacon and assistant secretary. The grandparents of Frank, were William Rudman who married Matilda Alderwick at Coppice Hill Chapel in 1845. The Alderwicks lived near George and Eliza Summers
in Pippet Street, and the Rudmans on the far side of Woolley Green. William and Matildas' children were baptised at Coppice Hill, including Frank Alderwick (Frank's father) in 1860.Incidentally, it was Frank who asked me if I would be the assistant treasurer of the Church in February 1977, when Ron Hazell had to give up due to ill health. As a direct result of this, I became interested in the history of the Church. In 1926, Rev. Richards was asked to resign by the Moderator, Rev. Hugh Jenkins M.A. and did so on the 18th of April.
Frank Blair and his wife were made members in 1920, and Gladys Newman and Olive Morris in 1921. George Sadwell and Mrs. Mead (Rene's grandmother) brought the total to 64, and seven more were added in 1923. These included Mrs. Newman, Dorothy Drew, Lily Vicks and Margaret Bailey (daughter of Sidney).
During 1926, 16 more members joined the Church. Two of these were Mr. and Mrs. J. Coupland of the Shambles, he was elected Church Treasurer. Also Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Scarisbrick of Prospect house, he was the Secretary. Others included Harold Morris, Victor Bray, Ernie Vicks and Sidney Valton. The latter ones had attended our Sunday School and were "our boys" as Olive puts it.
In the summer of that year, Miss Dorothy Edwards was appointed Organist of the Church, and in the September was made a member with her mother and father. An organ fund was started, and by the end of the year, £228 was raised from special events and donations. Dorothy's parents lent the Church £100 and also paid for some improvements (see the plaque on the organ). Griff en and Stroud renovated and reconstructed the organ which was completed in December.
Dorothy's father, Alfred Wilson Edwards was a Pork Butcher in Silver Street. He was Chairman of the Town Council for many years and also a magistrate. This was another family whose roots were at our Wesleyan Chapel on Coppice Hill. From the 1820 era his grandparents went there, and their children attended the Sunday School.
Alfred married Laura Allen there in 1900, she was a music teacher. Her father, James Allen, went to our School and Church here, but later in 1875 married a Methodist member, Laura Tucker and joined her Church. He was the Choir Master there for 28 years and retired in 1921. Later, after an illness, he could not climb Coppice Hill, so came back to our Church until his death in 1930, see the plaque on one of the downstairs windows in his memory.
The Organ Blower's fee was increased to 10/- in 1927, and they started a fund in 1929 to replace this manual operation, also the four windows at this end of the Church were presented by D.J. Coward as a thank offering in the November of that year.
John Usher, husband of the late Eve, was a member in 1929 and agreed to be Sunday School Superintendent in 1930 when William Porter resigned.
Various Ministers, students and laymen supplied our Pulpit during the years to 1931, and the congregation was not only maintained, but increased thanks to their efforts. One of them was the Rev. V. E. Bryant of Argyle Streetin Bath. In September 1931, the Church gave him a unanimous call, which he accepted, and started his Pastorate on the 4th of October. The stipend was to be £230, provided a grant of £60 could be obtained from Central Funds.
A.V. Edwards wrote a report of the Church, to go with the application and listed the improvements made; Reconstruction of the organ £426, electric organ blower £70, installation of electric light £43, new heating apparatus £260, and renovation of the schoolroom and provision of a new toilet £285.
The Rev. Bryant took a keen interest in the Sunday School. By December 1931, it needed reorganising due to a large increase in scholars. They bought 36 more chairs for the primary department at 3/9d (18p) each and screens for parting the classes (still in use). £11 was raised from a jumble sale to pay for the latter. He started a Junior Guild to improve the social side of the school, and also a Cradle Roll with Pearl Uncles as secretary.
Those attending the teachers' meetings in 1932 and 1933 were Xrs. I. Blair, Mrs. Eve Usher, Margaret Edith Bailey, Margaret Bailey, Vinnie Burnett (Rene's sister), Olive and Freda Morris, Pearl Uncles, Myrtle Godwin (now Fox), Frank Blair, John Usher (superintendent), Sidney Bailey (secretary). Harold Morris and Ron Hazell were registrars, and the meetings were presided over by Rev. Bryant.
Christmas 1933, the children were to go Carol singing with some of the Church choir, accompanied by Ivy Godwin (now Bowyer) playing the violin, and Vinnie Burnett (now Green) on the harmonium, if trucks could be borrowed from the Uncles to convey it. More details of the Sunday School are recorded in the "Short History" I wrote in 1985 for it s 200th anniversary.
In 1934, a new treasurer was needed when Mr. Coupland and his family left the town, he was thanked for his loyal service. His position was taken by Fred Overy of Highfields, Voolley, who later in 1938 married the Minister's daughter Gwen Bryant.
Frank Blair became Church secretary from 1935, and that year the interior of the Church was redecorated by Mr. Frank Andrews. At the re-opening in the May, V. Kelson Haden from Trowbridge presided-, and presented to the Church a Pulpit Bible.
Owen Vheeler and his wife Doris, became members in 1936. Owen and his sisters, Ida and Gwen, were the children of John and Eva Amelia (Beaven) who were married by Rev. Attwell in November 1894. Ida and Gwen also married here,the latter to Reginald A. Draper in 1924, and it was their grandson Ian John (son of Alan), who married Sian Currass in 1986.
Doris Vheeler was from Trowbridge, and attended the Tabernacle before her marriage. Owen was an excellent tenor and was in our choir with Doris, Edith Archard, Gertrude Bailey, Kargaret Bailey, Freda Sutton, Freda Morris, Edith Walter, Pearl Uncles, Hubert Vatts and his wife Helen, Millicent Hlchols and Dorothy. Sidney Bailey was the Choirmaster, and Dorothy Edwards A.R.C.O. the organist. Owen also sang with a town group called 'Octet' whose members included three Methodists, Graham Hale, Clarence Hanny and Tom Bennett Richman. Tom was the father of Mary Richman, one of our members who died in 1986.
Mrs. Jane Randell, in 1937, presented a stained glass window in memory of her husband, James (see plaque on the window sill). This James Randell was on the 1913 photograph, and brother-in-law to Berkley Uncles. Many in the Church and town were saddened in that year at the sudden death of Berkley Uncles and a very large congregation attended the funeral service here.
Also in that year, new Hymn Books were bought and used from the November, and the Young Peoples' Fellowship were granted permission to use the schoolroom for badminton.
In 1939, Daniel Coward reminded the Deacons that the 200th anniversary was the fallowing year. About this time, the idea of a Church Council was put forward, with two representatives from each department in the Church to promote closer working and administration with the Deacons, but the idea was soon abandoned.
The death of Frank Blair in 1942 was a sad loss to the Church, where he had always served to the best of his ability, also many of our members were called up to fight in the War. Rev. Bryant wanted to retire in 1943, but the Deacons asked him to wait until the War was over.
For the first time in the life of the Church, the shortage of men necessitated the selection of women to serve as deacons. Mrs. Mattocks and Mrs. Morris were chosen. The Rev. Bryant retired later that year. Also John Usher resigned as Superintendent of the Sunday School and Mrs Valter took over.
Mr. Dennis Friend, a student at Western College supplied our Pulpit during his vacation from the end of June to the 15th of September 1946. His stipend was £2 per week with free accommodation at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Coward. Although Mr. Friend was only here a short time, all the Church rallied round him, enabling him to do effective work. He started a group called the Questers, among the members were John Valter, Alan Draper, Brian Vheeler, Ian Blair, John Rudman, Jo Uncles, Jean Draper, Phyllis Angle, Dorothy Valter, Mary Rudman, Jean Cole, Arthur Blake, Olive Morris was their treasurer and Marge Bailey the secretary. The Church was then without a Minister for several years. This was partly due to the Church not having a Manse.
A fund was started for this with an anonymous gift of £100 at the end of 1946. Various fund raising events were held, one of these by the Ladies Sewing Guild raised £42, gradually the money built up but did not reach £500 till March 1949.
Daniel Coward was secretary and presided at Deacons' meetings which were often held at his home 29, Frome Road on account of his health. At a Church Meeting in April 1948, Mrs. Morris said although everyone prayed individually for the Church, she felt it was not the same as meeting together for Prayer, and in 1949, Mr. Bert Blblett agreed to conduct a Prayer and Devotional meeting on Thursday evenings every fortnight.
Mr. Korman Viley's membership was transferred to us from Wolverhampton on January the 2nd 1949. He was soon active and became a Deacon. Another member by transfer was Mrs. Carton from Bath.
In January 1950, Miss Dorothy Edwards died, she was 42. There was much sadness in the Church, and her mother later donated the baptismal font as a
memorial because Dorothy was so fond of children. Fred Sutton helped out on the organ for the ordinary services and weddings, and a Mr. Blake for the anniversary. Then Mr. T. Clayton from Melksham was appointed with Fred as his deputy.
Rev. Arthur P. Hogg became our Minister on May the 21st 1950. He came from Pitsea Congregational Church in Essex, and was willing to accept £200 per annum, plus a Manse. The Church had negotiated to rent 104 Trowbridge Road, but this was not ready, so Freda Simmonds offered her house, 11 St. Margaret's Hill for 6 months, which was accepted with gratitude by the Church Officers.
In May 1951, Daniel Coward resigned as secretary due to ill health, the decision was not easy because he had devoted all his time and energy over many years, in service for his beloved Church.
Frank Rudman suggested, and all agreed, to inaugarate a Testimonial Fund. Jtrs. Vheeler and Mrs. Draper organised this and a lectern was purchased to match the font. Herman Viley was the assistant secretary and from the A.G.H. agreed to be secretary. In a short report on the Church, he said that the Church Rules were out of date, and more time should be spent discussing spiritual matters at Church Meetings. Jo Uncles, a member since 1940, was appointed a Deacon.
Among those received into membership during these years were Mr. and Mrs. Rose (caretaker), Mrs. Valton (from Bearfield Baptist), Mrs. A.P. Hogg, Miss Jean Draper, Ian Blair, Anna Valton, Harry and Mary Bradshaw, Arthur Camborne, Mrs. Agnes Smith, Miss Pat Smith and Miss Maureen Long (Great Great Grandaughter of John Long).
The Church had a newsletter called the "Messenger", but I believe it ended in 1952 because of the need for an editor.
The Rev. Hogg died in February of that year, this was a grievous and sad loss, and so the Church was again without a Minister till 1955.
The treasurer Fred Overy died suddenly in April 1954, and Arthur Camborne offered to take these duties on. Later that year Daniel Coward also passed away, and in his Vill he left the house to his wife during her lifetime, and afterwards to the Church.
The Manse was still a priority and on January the 20th 1955, Frank Rudman, Arthur Camborne and JTorman Viley attended an auction at the Swan Hotel and agreed to pay £1,565 for the house, 120 Trowbridge Road. It was in need of renovation, and Bowyers carried this out at a cost of £330, so members were asked for interest free loans over 5 years. £200 was borrowed from the Congregational Union. The Town Council gave £120 towards the modifications and a legacy of £100 from the late Mrs. Scarisbrick was added to the fund. The debt was finally cleared in 1961.
The Rev. Pete Evans of Maldstone and late of Few College, London, agreed to be our Minister from May the !st 1955. Frank Rudman gave an introductory talk at the first Church Meeting, and thanked many people for work done, especially in the Manse. One of these was John Vright, son of Mrs. E. (Auntie) Vright for his specialised electrical work. Rev. Evans thanked those present for their warm welcome to himself and his wife. He said that being a new Minister, he had little experience of Pastoral work and he asked that prayers be said for both of them in the work they had come to do. In 1956 he brought the attention of the Church to the Congregational Training Colleges who were in difficulties, and some might have to close. He said it cost about £1,000 to train each student, and asked if a special collection could be made for this work.
During his time here he tried to improve the Spiritual life of the Church. Jew ventures in his first year were a Sunday School Bible Class, Bible Study and Prayer Group and a mixed Youth Fellowship.
We had various organists since Mr. Clayton resigned in 1952. These were Mr. Townsend to 1954 and then supplies. Mr. Pucket played for a short time, and then Mr. Denhard from Corsham, with Mrs. Bradshaw agreeing to act as a standby. Fred Sutton continued to help them.
Gift Lays and Bazaars were annual events, and the Drama Group usually performed once a year for the Bazaar Concert.
Mrs. Rose was secretary of the London Missionary Society from 1956, and Mrs. Hogg was our representative to the British and Foreign Bible Society. They had committee meetings in our schoolroom.
Fred Sutton had started a Boys Club in the Vinter of 1952. Harry Bradshaw and Mr. Stevens helped, and then took over, but by the end of 1956 more help was needed to run it.
During these years John Walton emigrated to New Zealand, and Ian Blair to South Africa and presentations were made to them.
The Rev. Pete Evans said at a meeting in March 1958, that Bradford-on-Avon would always hold a special place in his life, because it was the Church where he was Ordained. His ministry ended here in the May, and he moved to Fulham. Harman Viley moved to Hemel Hempstead at about the same time.
Another student, Bernard Sheppard, supplied the Pulpit till the September but the Church had no-one willing to be the secretary. Mrs. Hogg, widow of Rev. Hogg, presided at the meetings until the settlement of Rev. C.V. George on the llth January 1959. He came from Cannington with his wife. Early in his Ministry, at a Church meeting, Mrs. Hogg stated that there were many social activities in the Church, but no Prayer Evening, so it was decided to hold a week-night service for this on Tuesdays.
The Church interior needed redecorating as it had not been done since 1935, and as the late Edward G. Bryant (father-in-law of Arthur Cambome) left £100 in his Will for the redecoration, it was decided to have this done. Messrs Harding and Son of Trowbridge were the contractors and charged £86-10-0, with the Church supplying the materials. The ceiling had to be left as it was, because scaffold alone would cost over £50. The Chuch was closed for about 3 weeks.
A few members around this time, 1959 to 1960, were Miss Alice Moore, Mrs. Stella Cooper, Mrs. Errington, Daisy Edwards, Mr. Goodway and Mr. and Mrs. Taverner, also John Usher transferred back to us from Bearfield Congregational.
A committee was formed for winter activities by Mr. Denhard. These were Mrs. D. Vheeler, Mrs. E. Vright, Misses M. Rudman, J. Penny, J. Stevens, A. Simmonds,
M. Redman and MT. Ron Hazell. The Church suffered sad losses with the deaths of Harold Morris. and Margaret Bailey, and thanks were given to God for their many years of faithful service and witness.
From the 1st of January 1961, the Sunday School was held in the mornings, so the long tradition of morning and afternoon ended. Arthur Camborne had served the Church for seven years as treasurer, and asked for an assistant. Ron Hazell agreed to take this on.
Rev. George told the Church that the continuing financial problems of maintaining a Minister with a membership of under 60, would eventually mean Ministers would have to look after more than one Church, and urged them to consider Holt as a likely partner.
In 1959 our Methodist Church had started having talks with other denominations in the town, after they had to stop using the Chapel because the roof was unsafe. They then used the Schoolroom (which was erected in 1854) as a small Chapel until 1974.
The state of the Church Cottages had been a continual problem for several years, and several hundred pounds were needed to renovate them structurally, so eventually the Council agreed to buy them towards the end of 1962 for £450.
The Bradshaws left the town that year, and moved to Leicestershire, and their son, Mike, came to work in Leicester not only in the same engineering factory as me, but in the same small department. Until then, I had no knowledge of Bradford-on-Avon, but God moves in mysterious ways, and by 1970, we were living here in the house formerly owned by Church Deacon Don Fagg and his family, and in 1972, we started to attend Coppice Hill Chapel (see page 51).
At a meeting towards the end of 1962, Rev. George said all financial avenues had been explored, and it was time for him to move to a new Pastorate. Frank Rudman payed tribute to his work and said we feel we are losing a good friend.
Mrs. Hogg had carried out the duties of secretary and in 1964 was moving-away to Darlington. Arthur Cambome wanted to retire from the treasurer's position, but Ron only agreed to be assistant and there were no other volunteers, so Arthur continued and in fact went on until December 1979.
Our Financial position was such that Arthur Camborne reported that we could not support a married Minister, but Miss Stella Sivyour had just finished her training and agreed to come to us. She was ordained and inducted on September the 7th 1964. At a meeting later, Fred Sutton said the service was one of the best he had attended and all agreed it was very inspiring. Mr. Bert Niblett was thanked for his help while the Church was without a Minister.
Early in 1965, Miss Kathleen Sanders was transferred into membership from Salisbury. She lived in Victoria Terrace. In 1966, Kathleen was elected to the Diaconate and was Church Secretary the following year. Miss Catherine Baldwin
became a Deacon, and Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Viles were received into membership. At this time,, there was discussion on a link up with the Methodists.
Miss F. J. Hendy, a former member, left £250 to the Church in her Will, she died at Bournemouth.
The Town Council had wanted to widen St. Kargaret's Hill and remove the end of the schoolroom, but this threat was withdrawn in 1965, and so the heating system was changed to the small con vector heaters at a cost of about £236. The demolition of the Cottages was completed by the Council.
Several of our congregation were married by Rev. Stella Sivyour, these included Ann Simmonds to Dennis Adams, Gillian the daughter of Mr. and Mrs, Dennis Viles, to Michael Hazell, Audrey Bigwood the daughter of Ethel and Robert, to Kilburn R. J. Dagger, and Sandra Smith to David Pickard.
Rev. Sivyour preached at her last service here on the 21st of December 1969, before moving to Ottery St. Kary in Devon.
The Church, after several discussion meetings agreed to accept a joint Pastorate with Holt, the Rev, K.J. Crutchley to be the Kinister and he would reside in the Holt Kanse. So it was agreed to sell our own Kanse and invest the proceeds to provide income towards the stipend.
At the A.G.K. in September, Mrs. Nellie Rudman reporting on the Bright Hour, said that her mother, Louisa Korris, founder member had passed away in the April aged 92.
In December 1970 at a meeting, it was reported that Sandra Pickard had been elected a Deacon, and Freda Sutton and Catherine Baldwin re-elected. Krs. Gertrude Bailey had passed away and left £100 to the Church. Krs. Shirley Smith and Mr. Zapel were welcomed into membership.
On April the 29th 1972, the last Assembly of the Wiltshire and East Somerset County Union was held on our premises, and it was said that it was quite a fitting finale as the first meeting had been held here (but I have not found any reference to this as to when it was). In a letter afterwards, to Rev. Crutchley, they thanked him for all his efforts to make the meeting a success and also our tea ladles for the catering.
On the 5th of October 1972, a Union took place with most of the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches, and we became the United Reformed Church. Deacons were then called Elders, these were Kathleen Sanders, Olive Morris, Freda Simmonds, Jo Uncles, Sandra Pickard, Catherine Baldwin, Frank Rudman and later Shirley Smith.
Under the United Reformed Church, we were entitled to have an interim Moderator. Rev. John Palmer was retired and living at Corsham, and he agreed to serve Holt United Reformed and our Church.
In the summer of 1973, Rev. John Murray of the United Church, Trowbridge, met our. Elders. He gave a talk about his own Church in regard to the enrichment of Church Life as a United Reformed Church and Methodist Church. From this, a meeting was attended by our Elders and the Methodist Stewards, at which it was agreed to have joint evening services twice a month, and from October 1973 there would be informal relationships with the Methodist Circuit preaching plan, with a view to a more formal link in October 1974. This eventually took place, a joint steering committee comprised Catherine Baldwin, Ron Hazell and two other Elders, and Dora Vindo, Douglas Milne, Paul Villiams and John B. Vright.
The Church re—wiring was completed by early 1975 at a cost of £395, and in the April it was agreed at a Church meeting to paint out the crest behind the Pulpit and erect the cross from Coppice Hill on that wall.
Up to this time the Church had been seeking a United Reformed Minister to serve a Joint Pastorate with Holt. An alternative was suggested by the Moderator, and accepted, that we form a group with Westbury United Reformed, and Market Lavington United Reformed, under the care of Rev. Frank Larkworthy, and his induction took place on the 7th of October 1975. Frank and his wife Olive, lived in the United Reformed Manse at Vestbury. He was, and still is,' Chaplain to the Showmans Guild of Great Britain.
During this time we had been guided and encouraged by Rev. John Palmer. He and his wife were thanked for all their help.
A Joint Church meeting was held on the 26th of February 1976. Rev. Henry Foss and Rev. Frank Larkworthy presided, and seven Methodist and sixteen United Reformed members attended. The draft form of a Shared Buildings Agreement was introduced and studied, and discussions took place. Ron Hazell proposed acceptance, which was seconded by Mrs. Violet Oliver.
The Agreement comprised 17 items preceded by a short statement thus: "The Methodist and United Reformed Churches of Bradford-on-Avon, having been in close association for a considerable time and having worshipped together for over a year, believe that the redeeming love of God, revealed in Jesus Christ makes their continued separation contrary to the Will of God and have therefore covenanted to work, to worship and to witness together as one body."
Kathleen Sanders resigned as secretary in 1974, and Catherine Baldwin took on these duties, and now Paul Williams (Methodist) was taking over. At the first A.G.K. held in September 1976, Elders and Leaders were elected.
United Reformed was represented by Sandra Pickard, Shirley Smith, Olive Morris, Jo Uncles, Kathleen Sanders and Frank Rudman. Methodists were Dora Vindo, Violet Oliver, Vendy Valker, Jim Trott, John B. Vright and Paul Williams. Tea committee were Renee Allen and Florence Niblett, who was also secretary of the Ladies Bright Hour. Newsletter Editor was Betty Vishart and the Distributor Cora Davis. Representatives of the British and Foreign Bible society were Mrs. Walton, Mrs. Oliver, Mrs. A. Smith and Mrs. Eden. Miss Cora Davis, reporting on Junior Church said we had 97 children, 10 teachers and 8 helpers.
Shirley Smith, Choir Leader, had also started a Junior Church Choir which had 25 regular members. When Shirley left Bradford, Paul's wife Linda Villiams took this on, assisted by Anita Hiscox
Rev. John Barrett was the new Methodist Circuit Superintendent, and took over from Rev. Henry Foss. Also In 1977/8 the schoolroom roof was retiled at a cost of about £1,800. The subsequent redecoration was a D.I.Y. effort by some of the members.
Mrs. Dora Vindo resigned as Methodist treasurer due to ill health, and I took over. Cora Davis was leaving to get married, so Mrs. Dora Roberts took over distribution of the newsletter and Miss Margaret Robinson became Junior Church Secretary.
A new Church secretary was needed early in 1979, when Paul and Linda Williams and family moved to Barrow-in-Fumess, and Mrs. Ruth Williams (no relation) agreed to do it with Roy and Gill Staynings as assistants.
Graham Reeve took over the Church Choir from Linda, and Anita Hiscox looked after the Junior Choir. Shirley Smith and family moved back from Chippenham, and Shirley started a Junior Guitar and Music Group. Graham Reeve organised the Town and Country Fayre held in March that year, which was to herald the start of a vigorous fund raising campaign.
Various plans had been made for several years to improve the accommodation of the Sunday School and also the Church Roof had been a problem, with tiles coming off in stormy weather. By May 1979 it was evident it needed re-tiling. The Church employed an architect, Richard Pedlar, from Bristol, and Phase I roof repairs and general maintenance, and Phase II development of the link area (between Church and Schoolroom), to provide extra rooms upstairs, with redesigned kitchen and new ladies toilets, was agreed to, at an estimated cost of £32,000.
This seemed a vast amount for us to find, but we went forward in faith. Richard Miller was chairman of the fund raising committee, and many ways were used to raise money. One was 'purchase a tile* with the names to be put on a Scroll and eventually put in the roof. Another was 'paint a slate' competition organised by Peter Walker. Rev. Frank Larkworthy put great effort in persuading many members and friends of the Church to donate money and give interest free loans over 5 years. Many of these loans were afterwards turned into outright gifts. Florence and Bert Nblett donated part of the profit from Bert's book, "Memories of Bradford-on-Avon'.
During 1980 having access to the Church minute books and deeds, I started delving into them to find out when the Church roof was previously re-tiled, and became interested in the history of the building, and later its Ministers, Officers and Congregations.
The premises were obviously a priority, but we also held a Church day on November the 10th 1979 to look at our Worship and Corporate Life ready for the next decade,
Rev. Keith Forecast of the United Reformed Church Life Department came from London to guide us in our discussions. One result of this was the setting up of Bible Study Groups, Brie and Nancy Parr had just moved into Bradford and offered to lead one at their home. Another was held at Harry and Betty Wisharts* house, and a third at Agnes Smith's house led by Margaret Robinson.
Arthur Camborne retired after 25 years service and I took over the book keeping and accounts from him. I then looked after two separate bank and cash book accounts until January the 1st 1981 when we took the new name 'United Church' and the two accounts were merged into one.
From January 1980, Michael Currass was appointed Church Auditor, and suggested the method of presenting the Annual Accounts that we still use now.
Peter Walker was the Publicity Officer and when Flora Pagon resigned as editor of the Newsletter in June 1981, Peter took over and Flora continued editing the Childrens page.
Ruth Williams gave up the post of secretary and from January 1980 a Secretariat was formed: Harry Wishart, Co-ordinator, Roy Staynings, notices and rotas, Margaret Robinson, minutes, Kathleen Sanders, pulpit supply and myself (Roger Mawby) treasurer and correspondence.
This group was active for almost two years and did a lot of work on the Church Constitution and co-relating other matters. It did mean that there were three levels of administration, i.,e. Secretariat, Elders and Leaders and Church Meetings, and many did not know who to refer to without a proper secretary.
So, at the A.G.M. in September 1981 under the rules of our new Constitution, a Church Council was elected with 12 members: Roy Staynings, Shirley Smith, Graham Reeve, Margaret Robinson, Peter Walker, Ron Haynes, John B. Wright, Eric and Nancy Parr, Mary Rudman, Michael Currass and Mark Craddock. These were divided into two committees, Adminstration and Pastoral. Harry was elected secretary, Sybil Mumford Junior Church Leader, and I continued as treasurer.
Rev. Larkworthy living at Westbury, travelled thousands of miles each year in Pastoral visiting and for services and meetings. He and Rev. John Barrett took it in turns to preside at our meetings. In the Circuit, plans were being formulated to make us part of a Vest Wiltshire United Area, (Methodist and United Reformed) and the inaugural service was held on September the 5th 1982 at Vesley Road Methodist Church, Trowbridge. In August 1982, Rev. Barrett had moved away and Frank Larkworthy was retiring, so a new group was formed comprising Freshford and Vinsley Methodist, Holt United Reformed and our United Church.
Forman Whitaker had just finished his training, and was recommended by the United Reformed Church Provincial Moderator, Rev, Michael Hubbard M.A., and so our group gave him a call and he accepted. He was ordained and inducted in our Church on 25th September 1982. Norman and his wife Sheila lived in a fairly new Manse at Holt.
Also in September of that year, Rev. John Palmer started a Ministry of Healing. Sandra Pickard had assisted John at Trowbridge and so was involved here and a Prayer Group was formed. Those who also felt called to serve with laying on of hands and prayer were Barrie Hooper, Flora Pagon, Ann Adams, Mary Burge, Peter Valker and later Sandra Heathcote. In a report for 1983, John Palmer said "I cannot remember such a steady and lovely growth of interest and joy in the Lord's work and in the power of His Spirit as we have known since it all began."
During these years Peter Adams and Richard Miller ran a Youth Club on Thursday evenings which gradually attracted young people not associated with the Church. An average of 35 were attending, and there were discussions about a Youth Council being needed to supervise Youth Vork and possibly to have an additional meeting on another night to cater for more religious content under separate leadership. Almost a year later the Phoenix Fellowship was formed, led by Meg Eman, and met at her home on Friday evenings. By November 1983 there were too many youngsters for Peter and Richard to cope with and so the Youth Club was suspended while the policy was reviewed.
The Schoolroom was improved by the addition of the ramp, new entrance and toilet facilities for the Year of the Disabled. Ron Haynes was Convenor of the Administration Committee, which included property, until his illness in 1984, and then Graham Reeve took over.
Roy Staynings continued to lead the Pastoral Committee. Among items under their care were, "Children and Holy Communion1 and 'Informal Sunday Evening Services'. These had been organised by Sandra Pickard and later by Morman and Eileen Robinson until the end of 1982. 'Organists' - Eve Usher retired in August 1983, and Eileen Robinson and Forman were moving to Macclesfield at the end of the year. Simon Reeve helped out until he went to College in September 1984. Mr. Walters also played once a month in the mornings, and Marion Harford was the organist for Sunday evenings and special occasions, and later played every Sunday morning and most Sunday evenings as she does now in 1990. June Berryjnan also plays the organ in the mornings when required. 'Mission England' - our Church took part in this Billy Graham Campaign, and we hired coaches to take people to Ashton Gate at Bristol.
Appreciation was expressed at a Church Meeting for the continual flower-arranging by Mildred Vright, Myra Currass and Joanna Green.
Peter and Alison Brophy and their daughter Jenny had come to live in Bradford, and in 1985, Weekly Prayer meetings were held at their home, 2 Wins ley Road. About eight members attended. Peter and Alison also took over the running of the Church Bookstall from Sandra Pickard.
Shirley Smith, with the Music and Guitar Groups, members of the Church.Choir and congregation and children took part in the first Roger Jane's musical "Greater than Gold", about Mary Jones (Becky Morris) and her Bible. This was a great success for all who took part, and those privileged to be in the audiences.
This was followed up in 1985 with "A Grain of Mustard Seed" as part of our celebrations of the Sunday School 200th anniversary. As part of our celebrations in 1990, we are girding ourselves to put on another called "Spirit!" organised by Shirley Smith and John Woodbridge.
The Church interior had not been done since 1959, and the ceiling since 1913. We had a consultant, Mr. Robert Butcher of Potmolen Paints, Warminster who advised us on colour schemes, types of paint to suit the conditions and lighting to enhance the end product. The main contractors were Culverhouse Bros., also of Warminster. The entire cost, including scaffolding, wiring and carpet was £11,238 and so more fund raising took place.
Appreciation was expressed to John B. Wright, Bill Pagon and Peter Adams for all their help in various ways. The re-opening celebrations were on Palm Sunday Veekend, the 30th and 31st of Karch 1985, and included a Gift Day and Tea. The Preacher on the Sunday was Rev. Michael Hubbard M.A., our Provincial Moderator.
Our representative on the World Church and Society Committee was John Sidney Wright. This committee organises the Annual l% Appeal. Rev. John Berryman is the Chairman now.
Betty Wishart had been our representative on the World Church and Mission Committee, but retired that year. Harry is now the secretary of that committee.
Flora Pagon and Betty Wishart supported the Womens' Work Committee, I attended the Finance and Property Committee and Eric Parr the Preachers' Committee, of which he was the secretary.
During this decade, we are fortunate to have had several local Preachers among our members, these being Michael Currass, Eric Parr, Sandra Pickard, Alison and Peter Brophy, John Woodbridge, and when the Brophys left in 1989, Avril and Jim Clark moved in.
Sandra Pickard, in 1986, applied to enter training for the full-time Ministry, and we as a Church are supporting her with our prayers and help with a few books. In 1989, Peter Walker, Mary Burge and June Berryman have commenced training for the Local Preachers Course.
Michael Currass was an Area Officer and Treasurer from it's inception until David Warden took over in 1985. Arnold Fieldhouse was also an Area Officer from 1985. He had responsibility for the Holt Manse, he retired in August 1989. John Voodbridge became an Area Officer early-in 1989 to replace Dr. K. Major.
At the 1987 A.G.M. Rev. Horrnan Whitaker said that 1986 had been an unsettling year for him, and made the observation that a Support Group for the Minister was a necessity. Herman's position was more difficult as our Church did not have a secretary after Harry Vishart retired from this post in August 1986.
Special Church Council meetings, together with the Minister and past members, had considered the working of the Council, as five years had passed since the inception of the 'United Church'. New plans were made and put into action from the A.G.X. in Xarch 1987.
The Council was to consist of the working committees, each with its own convenor, and members of the Council with power to co-opt members of the congregation as and when necessary. Also, each department in the Church was to have a representative on the Council, to ensure that communication within the Church was maintained, but it was absolutely essential to have a co-ordinator or secretary.
The committees were:
Fabric Convenor - Peter Adams
Pastoral Convenor - Shirley Smith
Worship Convenor — Eric Parr
Social Convenor - Graham Reeve (this included Fund Raising)
Finance Convenor - John Woodbridge (this included Administration)
Mission Convenor - Peter Walker (this included Outreach)
John Woodbridge agreed to be the Church Co-ordinator for one year, but in fact did it for two.
Correspondence secretary, Gill Staynings, and also Peter Greenberry and Brian Stokes were elected to the Council. Marion Harford and Sandra Heathcote retired from the Council, having served their three year term. Mildred Wright retired as Flower Steward and Sheila Voodbridge took over. Jfew Church members proposed, were Dorothy and Ray Spring, Alastair Board, Kim Burrows and David Pickard.
On Saturday the 25th of July 1987, a Tea and Social was held to say farewell to Norman and Sheila and their sons Paul and Daniel. A framed water-colour of the Church, by Bradford Christian artist, Juliet Greaves, was presented and also gifts for the boys.
Several of our members, including Val and I, attended Herman's Induction at Anstey United Reformed Church in Leicestershire on the 22nd August 1987, where he was to have Anstey and another village Church at Groby under his Pastorate.
1987 to 1990
The Rev. John Berryman and his wife June, and their three teenage children had lived on Humberside for many years, and John had been working in industry as a Personnel Officer in a large company. He wanted to get back into full-time Ministry. He had considerable experience in Ecumenical work and seemed the right Minister for us in view of our support for, and involvement with the Bradford and District Council of Churches. With the agreement of the other Churches, our group and area gave him a call, and he was Inducted at Holt United Reformed Church on September the 4th 1987.
Soon after he came, a suggestion was made that the Co-ordinator (Secretary) should have two assistants, one the Co-ordinator elect, and the other the Coordinator just past. The period of service of each one would be three years, but with the main pressure over one year. This would provide continuity, and a way of learning for the Co-ordinator elect, and a support group when needed in his or her term of office. John Voodbridge, therefore, served one year on his own, until the A.G.M in 1988 when Marion Wortley was his assistant. Jack Plaster agreed to be the third one as past proxy Counsellor to get the scheme started. Michael Currass was Marion Wortley's assistant during the year of 1989, and he will be Co-ordinator with effect from the A.G.M. in March 1990.
When Rev. Larkworthy was our Minister, he encouraged many of us to covenant our Offertory, and he ran the scheme and acted as Covenant Secretary. ITorman Whitaker did not feel it was right for the Minister to do this, so I took over in 1982. Geoff Merritt has agreed to take over the Treasurer's duties from me this March 1990, and Kath Ridewood is to be the Covenant secretary, and as this History is almost finished, I'm looking forward to being able to relax from the pressures of the last few months.
Although each year we gave part of our income to various charities, it was decided that from 1988, we would still support the others, but have a main charity to support, which would be chosen in the previous September. 'Dorothy House' was chosen for 1988 and we managed to raise over £2,000. This included money donated at the funeral of one of our members, Aileen Banfield. Her death was sad for her family, and all of us in her 'Church Family'. Aileen's courage and dignity was an inspiration to us all.
In 1989 we supported and raised £1,500 for Myasthenia Gravis, and in 1990 we are supporting the Methodist Homes for the Aged (M.H.A.). A convenor was appointed in 1988. This was Keg Eman, assisted by Diana Fieldhouse. In 1989, the convenor was Flora Pagon, and far 1990 is Sheila Voodbridge.
Training for Pastoral Visitors was given by Rev. John Berryman, to improve and develop the system for care and communication. By January 1989, Shirley Smith was congratulated on having no less than 30 members working as Pastoral Visitors.
Marion Wortley and Alison Brophy started a Mother and Toddler Group meeting in the Schoolroom on Wednesday mornings in September 1988. This highlighted the need to have a better heating system.
Hew gas heaters were installed in July 1989, and the contractor agreed to wait for the balance of money due until after our September Fayre at St. Margaret's Hall. This was to be a fund-raiser for this project, and in fact brought in just over £1,000. This, added to Audrey Sheridan's gift, (see Chapter 8), covered 80% of the cost.
13 new members were admitted on October 15th. These were Mary and John Brand, Janet Boffey, Jean Chancellor, Dal-Young Dawson, Mary Dunn, Emma Holbrook, Isabel and Geoff Merritt, Kathy Pryce, Gary and Jane Ridewood and Dorothy Rose.
Peter Walker and other members of the Church took part in a training and preparation course for "Good Sews Down Your Street" in 1988, and others agreed to back them with prayer.
In 1989, Prayer Triplets were formed to give back up to the Billy Graham satellite campaign, and we hired coaches to take people to the United Church, Trowbridge. Hurture Groups were formed in conjunction with other Churches, especially Bearfield Congregational.
At the A.G.M. in 1989, it was reported that we had 25 children on the roll, divided into 5 classes. Teachers were Sybil Mumford (since retired), Elaine Harford, Kathleen Hawken, Eileen Cleave and Mabel Berry. Lyn Adams has just recently been apppointed to teach the primarys. Sandra Heathcote has recently retired as their treasurer and Eileen Cleave has taken over. Gillian Plaster is their secretary.
Jim Clark has now agreed to be Junior Church Leader, and has quite rightly demanded that the whole Church give more support to Junior Church and it s aims.
This was formed in 1984 for young people in the 12 plus group to graduate
. from Junior Church, and meet together in their own group as teenagers within
the Church Family. Harry Vishart is their leader, helped by Kim Burrows.
During the last quarter of 1989, a new style of morning Worship has been used. This involved our own Minister and our own local Preachers. A list of themes were drawn up (using the Lectionary). The congregation and, where possible, the children were more involved. This was co-ordinated by John Woodbridge. It seems to have been successful, making the services more interesting and spiritually rewarding. It is to continue during at least the first quarter of 1990, with Roy Staynings co-ordinating.
Since 1988, we have used new hymn books, "Hymns and Psalms", in our worship. We also have Mission Praise I, and recently bought music copies for use by the choir.
Graham Reeve is still Choirmaster and Marion Harford plays the organ or piano for them. Only Freda Simmonds remains from those listed in 1936. The other members are Joan Reeve, Gill and Roy Staynings, Kath and Keith Ridewood, Anita Hiscox, Jean Morris, Val Mawby, Ron Haynes and Eric Parr.
For several years, we have had Good Sews Bibles in the pews, and we are encouraged to follow the readings, and sometimes all read together. In 1990 we have just dedicated a new translation of the Few Testament from the Greek. This has been translated by John Woodbridge and is called "Listen to Me".
Our Church Bookstall is now looked after by Jack, Doris and Gillian Plaster.
Peter and Alison Brophy continued to host the Prayer meeting at their home until the A.G.M. last March, and it is now held in our home on Tuesday evenings once a month. Average attendance is 4 to 5.
Rev. John Berryman has just started a system of prayer cards to be used by members and adherents in their homes, and so to try and involve more in the corporate prayer life of the Church.
I was born in Ashby—de— la-Zouch, Leicestershire and was baptised there in the Methodist Chapel. Ve moved from there when I was four, and during the War years I attended the Sunday School at the Parish Church in Ratby, a village about 6 miles from Leicester.
In 1952 we moved again, into Leicester and I eventually met Val and we married at the Methodist Chapel (Trinity), where she was a member. I was not a regular church attender and did not have any desire to go, but I was a firm advocate that our children should attend Sunday School, and so when they were old enough, I went on my own to the Methodist Chapel on Coppice Hill to see what it was like. The first person I met there was John Wright. He and others made me so welcome that from then on, Val and I attended every week with Steven and Joanne.
Gradually I came to believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, and became a member here during Rev. Frank Larkworthy's Pastorate.
Roger F. Mawby February 4th 1990.