United Reformed Church
Rainford Congregatational Church
The Independent Chapel
From 1583 Rainford Chapel had been served
by Puritan ministers until about 1640 when the Presbyterians gained control.
Although nominally a chapel-of-ease they, and later non-conformist ministers,
were tolerated by the Established Church of England authorities at the mother
church at Prescot.
In 1689 an Act of Parliament required the meeting places
of Protestants dissenting from the Church of England to be recorded and James
Bradshaw, the then minister, applied to the Court for Rainford Chapel to be so
recorded. Possibly foreseeing the Established Church regaining control of the
Chapel Bradshaw also recorded his own house in 1697. When he died in 1702 the
Dissenters were forced out of the Chapel and they recorded Heaton House as a
meeting place in October of that year.
A site had been purchased on Higher Lane and a small
chapel erected there by August 1706. Mr Bradshaw’s successor, the Reverend
Renald Tetlaw, recorded this building as a meeting place in the following
October. This plain, whitewashed building remained as a place of worship for the
Independents for the next 170 years during which time it had the services of
only four ministers.
The last of these four ministers was the Reverend James
Widdows who came to Rainford in 1838. On the 23rdApril 1867 he laid
the foundation stone of a new church to be built on land adjacent to the old
chapel. Built of local stone, with a handsome tower 58ft high the gift of Mr
Richard Pennington of Muncaster Hall, the opening service of the new
Congregational Church was held on the 23rd October that same year.
Standing on the high ground above the village this building still occupies a prominent position, both in the landscape and in the lives of its congregation.
The New Church
Flower Festival, July, 2003