Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

Chris Bruce-Jones, Secretary and Elder of Oxted URC, gave an illustrated lecture to Oxted & District History Society on ‘A Disappearing Heritage: Four Centuries of Nonconformist Buildings’.

Early reformers wanted a more direct relationship between man and God and dissent was encouraged by early translations of the Bible into English.  Despite earlier persecution, the 1688-9 Glorious Revolution brought some relief to Dissenters.  Early examples of Dissenters’ chapels can be found at Bramhope, Leeds, Horningsham, Corsham and East Tytherton in Wiltshire, Walpole and Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, and in Northampton and Norwich. 

The Established Church was slow to react to the rapid social change and movement of people to the towns brought about by the Industrial Revolution.  By contrast, nonconformist churches quickly set up chapels and attracted huge congregations.  By 1850, nonconformists attending worship outnumbered Established Churchgoers.  The adoption of Gothic architecture replaced the original simplicity of Dissenting chapels.  The chapel at Otle Yorkshire had a high steeple, stained glass and expensive organ.  The massive Congregational church at Stamford Hill reflected the huge success of Nonconformists in commerce and industry in Victorian Britain.

At a local level, the earliest Non conformist chapel was at Pains Hill, Limpsfield (1822-95).  In Oxted 1900 the Congregational Church in Station Road, East was replaced by the Church of the Peace of God in Bluehouse Lane in 1935, which became the United Reformed Church in 1972.


A Disappearing Heritage a talk by Chris Bruce-Jones

Four Centuries of Nonconformist Buildings