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Rochford Congregational Church (HT)

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About Rochford Congregational Church (HT)

As told by David Saunders, the Minister. 2017.

Press this YouTube link or read below.

As Queen ‘Bloody’ Mary was rampantly burning dissenters at the stake in 1555, Rochford’s first Congregationalists were boldly risking life and limb by holding evening services in Rochford Hall. It rattled the nerves of local residents and eventually the Queen was informed of Lord Rich’s acceptance of heretic practice in his manor. He was sentenced to jail. Refusing to be deterred, Congregationalism continued in secret until 1679 when the Tolerance Act gave marginal freedom to nonconformists. They would then build their first chapel in Weir Pond Road, on what is now the site of the car park of Doe’s agricultural firm.

Rochford’s current Congregational Chapel opened in North Street in 1741. It was half the size of the present church, with a burial ground at the rear. Growing in popularity, the church became so over-crowded that in 1838, it was extended by 20ft to accommodate its worshippers, including adding a gallery. Folk travelled from neighbouring villages to attend the popular Sunday services. 

Congregationalists believed that education should be available to everyone regardless of class. They opened the first town school, building it at the same time as the main chapel in 1741.  This was a brave move in a time when there was fear that if poor children were educated they may rise up and rebel against aristocracy.

Address:20 North St
Postcode:SS4 1AB
Categories:Historical, Point of Interest

Rochford Congregational Church (HT) is included in the following trails:

Main Heritage Trail

Inner Heritage Trail

7 Centuries of Architecture

Churches, Faith & Peculiar People