This fellowship was formed at Pentecost 1988 from two churches within the Redhill area. On that day, by mutual consent, both the former churches ceased to exist.
The older of the two churches was founded in 1862 as a Congregational Chapel for the local community in Redhill, situated in what became known as Chapel Road. People worshipped on that site for One Hundred and Twenty-six years. From 1972, when the United Reformed Church came into being nationally, that fellowship became known as Christ Church United Reformed Church.
The younger church was founded in the late 1890s in a temporary building, known affectionately as the Tin Tabernacle, while the Church Building was being constructed on the present site. This fellowship covered a wider community as it was the only Presbyterian Church in this part of Surrey. This building was opened in 1902 as St Paul’s Presbyterian Church and in 1972 became St Paul’s United Reformed Church.
In late 1987 discussions took place between the two churches to see how best the resources of both churches could be used in and for the local community. The Elders and Church Meeting of both fellowships agreed that the two churches should become one fellowship on this site. From the sale of the Christ Church manse and buildings we have been able to develop and upgrade the buildings on this site to the high standard you see today.
St Pauls Church
Although it was in the dying years of the 19th century, that a group of predominantly Presbyterian people acquired the prize site at Shaw’s Corner and put up a corrugated iron structure to serve as a meeting place whilst the permanent building was being erected. However, prior to this, since about 1861, local Presbyterians, together with Congregationalists met either at the new Congregational Church in Chapel Road or in the “upper hall” of the Market Hall. In the Chapel Road Church Minutes it is recorded that some 42 members transferred to the new Presbyterian Church at Shaw’s Corner.
This edifice was know affectionately as the “Tin Tab” and we are told that, in the long hot summers which seem to be the norm at the time, it was hosed down frequently to reduce the inside temperature during services let’s hope the winters were not too severe for the indomitable worshipers. A retired minister, Revd James Rennie, had oversight and proved to be a wise and helpful pastor, Revd J. M. E. Ross MA was inducted in November 1900 as the first full time minister.
The foundation stone of the present building was laid and dedicated by Revd Christie BA, Moderator of the Synod, on 18th July 1901.
The church itself was opened on 28th May 1902. By the end of 1904 the debt had been cleared and shortly afterwards a campaign started to replace the “Tin Tab” which, as a hall, was no longer adequate, and this culminated in the opening of the new halls and classrooms in 1905.
Mr Ross was an inspired leader but was called to a church in Golders Green in 1911. After a two year vacancy, Rev. J. W. Roberts MA commenced his short ministry in April 1913, which lasted throughout the war until November 1917, during which time he had commended himself for his friendship and pastoral care. During the war a War Help Committee was formed, which included providing hospitality to Belgian refugees.
The plain glass windows were replaced by stained glass as a memorial to those who died in the first world war; externally the garden on the east side was also dedicated to the casualties of both world wars, whilst the space on the opposite side of Blackborough Road was given in memory of a church member by her husband.
There was then a period of nearly eighteen months until Rev. D. C. Eades BA was inducted in May 1919. In 1921 the church helped support the Mission Church in Bermondsey and later, in 1926, helped care for the Cowden Mission Station. In 1925 the church celebrated its Semi Jubilee and also the Rev. Eades was married, at which Rev. Ross was guest of honour, sadly he was to pass away suddenly in August, the stained glass window above the main entrance being a fitting and affectionate memorial. In February 1932 Rev. Eades sought a less onerous charge. Luckily it was only a short time before Rev P. B. Hawkridge MA was inducted in September. He remained until April 1944.
Until the start of the Second World War it was a relatively calm period in the church’s history. Rev. Hawkridge had a forthright personality tempered by a happy sense of humour but his message was always challenging and attracted large congregations. It wasn’t until1939 that ladies were able, for the first time, to become deacons and in 1943, as elders.
During the war, with its restrictions, there had to be adjustment to the activities. In 1940 a bomb was dropped in the road at Shaw’s Corner. Luckily the church only suffered from splinter damage (as did some of the houses opposite).
In 1944 Rev Hawkridge, later Dr. Hawkridge, received a call from Regent Square. However, Rev Gillespie MA from Plymouth accepted the call and was inducted on July 4th to the accompaniment of aerial fights and flying bombs overhead. With things returning to normal the church found their new minister friendly, wise and a good companion. One of the highlights was on the four Sundays in April 1948 the BBC broadcast the services in the series “People’s Services”, which were well received and a potential congregation of 4 million. Later in September the Garden of Remembrance was dedicated in memory of those who died in the two world wars.
Two years later, on July 21st, the church was stunned to learn of the death of both Rev and Mrs Gillespie in a car accident on their way to a conference in Swanwick.
For a whole year Revd Stephenson acted as Interim Moderator until Revd Brian M. Pratt MA was inducted in July 1951. He was to be an inspired leader, with a great increase in Sunday School and two groups studying Devine Healing. 1956 saw an outreach campaign.
He also served on many national committees and became Clerk to the Assembly that led to the formation of the United Reformed Church in 1972. The church again had another shock when Revd Pratt collapsed and died suddenly on Easter Sunday 1977.
During the vacancy Revd Alastair Dykes of Cheam was Interim Moderator until Revd R. W. F. Talmey was called in 1978. The ministry fulfilled the Congregational thread, which had been there in the formation of St. Paul’s and proved to herald where the future lay. In 1983 Revd Talmey received a call to a church in his native Sussex and again Revd Dykes became interim Moderator, culminating in the call to Revd Kenneth Lynch in 1984. He brought an energetic, outreaching and caring approach.
In 1987, due to the vacancy at Christ Church URC (Chapel Road), he was appointed Interim Moderator. At the same time, to add to their problems, a serious outbreak of dry rot was discovered in the church. After much serious thought and consideration, at a Church Meeting it was resolved to seek to unify with St. Paul’s, who agreed to the uniting of the two churches. The question was which church but, as the result of an independent survey, the way was clear for, in order to put the Chapel Road property into good repair, the cost would be at least £60,000, whereas the Shaw’s Corner property could be improved and repaired for £10,000. For a time services were held in each church alternately.
As the result of the sale of the Chapel Road property it was possible to enlarge and improve the church buildings and, when completed, these were awarded a commemorative plaque for their sympathetic appearance. Tribute must be paid to Revd. Kenneth Lynch and the members of both congregations in the smoothness of the uniting. The United Church then became known as the Redhill United Reformed Church.
Revd Lynch was joined in 1993 by an Associate Minister, Revd. Jose Finlayson, who gave a thoughtful approach to contemporary worship and work with children, in 1996 Revd Lynch received a call to Brighthelme Church in Brighton, whilst Revd Finlayson continued until Revd John Joseph was called in 1998.
Redhill Congregational Church 1862-1972.
Christ Church (United Reformed) 1972-1988.
W.P.Dothie B.A. 1862 – 1876
H. Stent 1876 – 1882
J. Menzies 1883 – 1891
J. Gardner 1892 – 1905
A. Leggatt 1905 – 1910
W.A.H. Legg M.A 1911 – 1921
E.G. Mitchell 1922 – 1923
H.J. Barton Lee 1923 – 1936
H.B. Miner B.D. PH.D 1937 – 1947
H.W Theobald M.A 1947 – 1961
H.E. Shorthouse 1962 – 1972
J.P. Caton B.D 1973 – 1986
The War Memorial
Earl Beatty officiated at the 1923 ceremony of the unveiling of the Borough War Memorial at Shaws Corner. It stands as a memorial to those who gave their lives in the Great War, World War 1, every 11th of November the Borough of Reigate holds the annual Rememberance day Service and Parade in the immediate area.
Coming from Redhill by car or on foot, you’ll not fail to notice the Church with the War Memorial the Service men of the Borough in the two World Wars and conflict since.