History of the Church


The first record of worship taking place here is in 1662, when the house adjoining the present church was used as a meeting place for those who no longer wanted to be part of the Church of England. In that year two thousand clergy were ejected from their churches as they would not adhere to the Act of Uniformity which made use of the Book of Common Prayer compulsory in religious services. The vicar of Ovingham, Thomas Trewent,  left his parish and went to live in nearby Harlow Hill where he preached in his house and at his friend's house in Horsley.

In 1664 it became illegal to hold such meetings so secret services were held at night in the attic of his house. Access was through a small trap door in one of the bedrooms. Once inside the ladder was drawn up and the trap door secured. It is said that members came from great distances and many were shepherds whose dogs had to be taken into the attic so as not to draw attention to their number. It was not an easy time. For those found out, it meant a heavy fine, imprisonment or transportation.

The first chapel was built in 1680 after the Act of Transportation allowed freedom of worship. It was replaced by the present building in 1900. It was established as a Congregationalist church in 1972 when it became part of the United Reformed Church.