ARCHIVE: History of The Weybridge United Reformed Church
This building was erected in 1864 as a Congregational Church. The architect was John Tarring, well known for his church buildings in South East England. The foundation stone, which can be seen on the outside at the rear of the church, was laid by John Remington Mills, MP in July 1864. The church was dedicated in May 1865.
The building of the church was due to a benefactor, Benjamin Scott, Chamberlain of the City of London. He had come to Weybridge in 1854 and built Heath House on the road to the station. The house is now known as Lorimar House in Hanger Hill. Scott was concerned at the lack of evening worship in Weybridge for those who worked for the gentry and professional families in the area.
The Rector of Weybridge declined to co-operate with Scott in providing this, so Benjamin Scott starting holding evening services in his own house in January 1863. These became so popular that a large room in Heath House gardens was used, but a more permanent place of worship was needed.
Scott bought a plot of land in Queens Road and donated £500 towards the cost of building this church. Visitors to the church can see a plaque commemorating Benjamin Scott on the wall immediately opposite the entrance door.
François Baron was known to Benjamin Scott for his involvement with the Working Men’s Educational Union in London and had moved to Weybridge with his family to help Scott with the evening services. At the first Church Meeting after the church had been dedicated, the members asked François Baron to become their Minister. He was ordained in May 1866 and remained the minster of the new church for 25 years, until 1890.
Church membership grew as the years progressed and a gallery was added in 1886. The arrangement of the church was in the tradition of Congregational churches with the pulpit in the centre, in front of the organ pipes and raised above the dais. This was to emphasise the importance of preaching. The choir pews at this time were also on the dais in two rows facing each other.
The church’s centenary in 1965 was celebrated with an alteration at the front of the church, making it as it is today. The pulpit was rebuilt on the right, a lectern placed on the left, with the communion table remaining in the centre of the dais.
The organ console and the choir pews were moved to the left, the pews on the same level as the rest of the church. A wooden cross was mounted on the organ pipes, emphasising the importance and significance of this Christian symbol.
More recently, in 1972, the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Union of England & Wales joined to form the United Reformed Church. The Churches of Christ joined the United Church in 1981, and the Congregational Church in Scotland was added in 2000.