Congregational Church of Broadway

In 1792, The Rev John Dawson, a Baptist Minister from Evesham, felt the need to carry out evangelistic work at Broadway as the then vicar of the parish church was an ‘absentee incumbent’ who had passed on his duties to a curate. Rev Dawson had studied evangelism at the Countess of Huntingdon’s College1 in Talgarth, Brecknockshire, and starting preaching in a cottage in the village (now known as Biles Cottage).

In 1795, Rev Dawson resigned his Evesham pastorate to concentrate on Broadway and it is on this date that Congregationalism in the village is deemed to have started.

1798: A small chapel, seating 100, was erected on the site of the British Schoolrooms in the High Street.

1799: Rev Dawson handed the chapel over to Rev John Mann of Moreton-in-Marsh who rode on horseback from Moreton to preach.

1809: At a meeting held in Moreton-in-Marsh, Stephen Miles and Job Stanley (1764-1845), both senior members of the Broadway chapel, were appointed the first Deacons of Broadway Congregational Church.

1811: The original chapel was enlarged and nearly doubled in size and was opened by Rev Rowland Hill of London on 12 October 1811.

1814: Mr John Morris of Broadway, who had been a member of the Church since 1808 was called upon to occupy the pulpit and in 1816 he was ordained as a full-time Minister. He was Minister until 1825.

1816: Following the ordination of John Morris, the Church was organised more formally with 23 members who had previously been on the roll of the Church at Moreton.

1825: Rev John Morris resigned to go into business as a grocer but he continued as Deacon until his death in 1864.

1825-1831: Rev Joseph Parry

1828: Richard Townsend (grocer of Broadway) was appointed Deacon.

1831-1838: Rev Mark Docker

1840: Rev Henry Rees

1842: Rev Benjamin Cuzens (1801-1869)2.

1842-43: the present Church was erected at a cost of £900. The new chapel, seating 350.

A branch chapel in Childswickham, Ebenezer’s Chapel was built at this time. The chapel had a seating capacity of 100. When entering the chapel, you walked under a seated balcony and at the far end there were two flights of stairs leading to the pulpit.

1844: John Morris and George Stanley (son of Job Stanley) were appointed Deacons.

1850: Rev James Buckley Millsom (1822-1909).

1851-52: Rev Joseph Hooper. An average congregation of 60 attended Ebenezer’s Chapel in Childswickham with the Sunday School having 35 scholars on the register.

1853: Rev Thomas Rogers

1854: Rev William Pike

1863-70: Rev John Bennett

1864: Owen John Morris was appointed Deacon.

1870-74: No pastor

1874: Rev William Bagnall

1891: Rev Stephen Clarke

1892: Ebenezer’s Chapel in Childswickham was restored – a new ornate window and porch were added.

1893: The Chapel and British Schoolroom were renovated.

1895: The centenary of the formation of Congregationalism was celebrated in Broadway.

1900s: Ebenezer’s Chapel in Childswickham ceased being a place of worship.

1914-1916: Rev Walter Charles Talbot took up the Ministry. He retired in 1916 shortly after his son, Stanley Alfred Talbot (1884-1916) was killed in action during the First World War. Stanley is commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial3.

June 1934: The Church held its Summer Fete at Russell House at the invitation of Mrs Millett.

1958-1960: Further renovations were made to the Church and the roof was raised in height.

1972: When nationally the Congregational Church joined with the Presbyterians, the church became the United Reformed Church.

1980: In February the Church was visited by Rev Fred Kaan, Moderator of the West Midlands Province and formerly on the staff of the World Council of Churches. In March, Revd J.W. Green led pilgrims to visit the Holy Land.

In the 1980s, Ebenezer’s Chapel in Childswickham was demolished.

The current Minister is Rev Richard Becher.

Notes:

  1. Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon, founded in 1783, a small society of evangelical churches, The Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion, a sect of Calvinistic Methodists, and a college for the training of evangelical clergymen.
  2. See Cuzens, Benjamin (1801-1869). In Trove https://nla.gov.au/nla.party-1484988.
  3. See Broadway Remembers (ISBN 978-0-9929891-0-1) by Debbie Williamson.