United Reformed Church

formerly

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

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