Wellingborough URC - Our History

Congregationalism began in Wellingborough in the 1660’s following the ejection of the vicar Thomas Andrews. Originally regarded as Presbyterian the congregation first used a meeting house in Silver Street, which was superseded in 1746 by a building in Cheese Lane, now buried under the Swansgate Shopping Centre.

An Independant congregation was formed in the late 17th century. This congregation, originally part of the Rothwell Church became autonomous in 1691 used a meeting house in Crown Yard. This meeting house was replaced in 1734 by another in West Street. In 1868 the church was disbanded and the building conveyed to the primitive methodist's and is still used by the Methodist's to this day.

In 1812, following protests about the introduction of an organ a group broke away from the Cheese Lane congregation to build a chapel in Salem Lane.

As the meetings in Salem Hall and Cheese Lane had outgrew their present, and in some cases dilapidated, buildings, they decided to re-unite. In 1873, a group of young men travelled to Northampton to purchase the land. The ideal site, fronting High Street, an area of over 2,437 sq.yds (2037 sq.m.) had to be purchased at a cost of £1,200. Having pooled their resources, these young men managed to pay the deposit. When they returned, they explained what they had done, in order that the church might have the opportunity of the site in its own hands. Their courage had solved the problem of the site for the new church and by the spring of 1874 the foundations had been laid.

The total cost of the building, together with the organ by William Hill and alterations to Salem, to provide better facilities for Sunday School, was about £12,000.

By the time the first minister James Ervine who served until 1878, climbed the pulpit steps, the Wellingborough Congregational Church, High Street was finished and almost paid for. Following a series of opening services £110 was still owed - a large amount when all had already given to the limit of amazing sacrifice. The offertory taken did not meet this total so the worshippers literally emptied their pockets - the last few shillings being made up with postage stamps. The Dedication Service took place on Thursday December 9th 1875, led by Dr Henry Allom and Dr R W Dale.

During the 19th century, both the Doddington Congregational Church (1830) and Little Irchester Mission Church (1891) were united with High Street.

This wasn’t enough for our ancestors, who looked at the area of the town around the railway station. In 1880 seeing children brought up untaught and people with no church, they firstly built a school and then a church, which we now call Victoria. It remained a subsidiary of High Street until 1918 when it gained independence and the right to call its own minister. In June 1972 a bill was passed by the House of Commons allowing a union of the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales to form the United Reformed Church. Following this, High St, Gt Doddington and Victoria became a Group with two ministers. Over time the Victoria building became less used and in 1979 the remaining members allowed the building to be adapted to become the Victoria Centre we have now.

The history of congregationalism in Wellingborough has been depicted in a mural painted on a wall in Salem Hall. The painting was completed in 1979 by Marjorie Radford and is composed of 9 sections, with each section relating to a different era in the life of the church.