United Reformed Church, Portland

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The United Reformed Church is a 19th-century church, located in Chiswell village, on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. It was originally founded in 1825 and closed in 2009.[1]

History

The United Reformed Church was founded in 1825 when the people of Chiswell, the oldest settlement on the island, banded together to covert a barn and stable into a place of worship. By 1827, Chiswell had to accommodate the growing congregation and as a result the first chapel was built during 1827-28.[2] The church flourished under the guidance of the Rev JH Crump. The first pastor appointed to Portland was the Rev Frederick William Meadows. The next pastor, Rev C Cannon, died in office in 1854, whilst in those years the building had become too small for the growing congregation.[3]

As the building wasn't large enough for the local congregation, a new church opened on the same site. Rev James Cheney, described in the church records as "a remarkable, resourceful and skilful man", was the guiding light for the building that stands in Chiswell today, which was opened by 21 October 1858.[4] The church was first known as the Independent Chapel, as well as the Union Chapel, then the Congregational Church.[2] It became known as the United Reformed Church in 1972.

However by the 21st century, the numbers in the congregation had dramatically dropped. A band of seven local people decided to team together in attempt to the keep the church open by dealing with administration and fund raising. Despite various attempts by the congregation to save it, the church's final service was held on 27 September 2009, conducted by the Rev Bob Damer.[3] Although the building's future was uncertain, in recent times it has undergone the start of renovations.[5]

References

  1. "Portland United Reformed Church : Portland, Activities of religious organisations : DT5". Around-dorset.co.uk. Retrieved 4 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Paul Benyon. "Portland Churches, Buildings and Views". Freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 4 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "United Reformed Church at Chiswell to finally close (From Dorset Echo)". Dorsetecho.co.uk. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Historic England. "Monument No. 1486581". PastScape. Retrieved 3 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "(ONLINE) Official website - United Reformed Church". Free Portland News. Retrieved 4 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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