Above: The Hearth prior to restoration & Horsley School Garden opposite Fernley Cottages. Now a housing development called Highcrofts
The Hearth Arts Centre and Café are situated within a restored Grade II listed 17th Century Manse. One of the oldest houses in Horsley, it provided a home for the minister of the church. Now as the Art Centre it accommodates eight artist's studios as well as a café and hall for hire.
The Hearth still incorporates many original architectural features from the sixteenth century. These can be seen in the wattle and daub walls making up the main corridor to the Café and in the fireplace and adjoining window in the Pipers Room.
a special relationship
The Hearth Arts Centre came into existence in 2004 as an outreach community initiative supported by Horsley Village Church, funding agencies and private donations. Its main aim was to develop the life of the village and wider community. The name was chosen to include the word Art and each letter represented a part of the project:
H = Horsley
E = Environment
A = Art
R = Rural Enterprise
T = Tea Room
H = Heritage
manse a refuge from religious persecution
The Act of Uniformity (1662) by a Cavalier Parliament insisted that every clergyman consent to all that was written in the Book of Common Prayer. The immediate impact of this was that nearly one-fifth of the clergy lost their posts, in what was termed the Great Ejection. Those who could not consent to this came to be known as the non-conformists, with a large section of English society excluded now from public affairs for more than a century and a half.
Thomas Trewent, vicar of Ovingham was one, who would not conform to the Act of Uniformity. Forced to leave the church, ejected from his parish and the Church of England, he moved into the home of a friend. That home was 'The Hearth' as we know it today and it was within the attic that he held secret services at night, to avoid being reported to the authorities. Having been excommunicated from the Church of England, Thomas was therefore not allowed to be buried on consecrated land. On his death in 1676 it is rumoured he was buried in the church garden, which is now the car park at the rear of The Hearth.
later history of the manse
The house and adjoining lands were eventually sold for £35, and a meeting place built. The house then became the manse of subsequent Congregationalist ministers and for many years it was rented to private families until the 1900’s when the building became derelict. The meeting place (church) was demolished after the roof was deemed unsafe and the present church was built on the site in 1900.
The manse then became the caretaker's home and eventually becoming empty for several years until Horsley Village Church undertook the renovations of the manse, hall, and surroundings to restore them into what we know today as, The Hearth Arts Centre and Café.
renovation & restoration
The Manse over time has gone through a series of renovations and alterations. During the Victorian period additions were made to the front and rear of the manse, one of which the porch later fell in a storm and was replaced in the 1970’s. The Victorians also established a schoolroom in 1879, this was restored in 2003 removing the false ceiling to reveal a beautiful wooden structure. Coal fireplaces can be found in almost every room. To the rear of the Manse an outdoor coalhouse, storeroom, and Netty (Toilet) existed. During one of the alterations to the building a pewter communion set was found in the attic and today is on display in the church. In 1893 the main hall and other rooms were added to the Manse, these are what now accommodate the artist studios.
The Manse is the older building within the Centre.
Above: Horsley Village Church Members
Horsley Village Church
Horsley Village Church is small, yet also outward-looking and vibrant. Governed by the United Reformed Church, it has attracted enquirers and people of faith from a variety of backgrounds. There are services Sunday by Sunday. Our relationship with the Hearth Cafe also enables pastoral care to be exercised over coffee, on any day of the week.
In keeping with its non-conformist heritage, Horsley Church nurtures and welcomes the gifts of all, clergy and lay people alike. There is a measure of variety in our services. Leaders enjoy unusual freedom when selecting material for worship as well as having scope to produce original writing. Each service is crafted for a specific gathering, the time, space and participants making a unique occasion. We aim to include people from all walks of life.
During Art Fair weekends you'll find 'Open Church' inside our characterful sanctuary, a Victorian replacement of earlier buildings. There may be ethical gifts to buy, but foremost we invite you to enjoy the peace and warmth of a place that's held so much prayer. This began in the C17th. with the illegal worship of local folks who wished to speak to God from the heart, and refused to be restricted to the words permitted by King and parliament.
We look forward to welcoming you.