to our church. We are a warm friendly church where Christians
of all ages find a spiritual home and a community of loving
particularly welcome those with young families, providing
creche facilities for babies within the Sunday service and
junior church for when they get older.
here to find us
A brief historical note
Reformed Church started its life as an Independent Church
in 1804, when George III was King of England. It was built
from bricks which came from Thatcham's Manor House in Dunston
Park. That house had just been dismantled.
of the new church was very unwelcome to some people. Worshippers
going to it in the early days were pelted with stones and
mud; families were escorted there to the sound of "music"
on pots and kettles. An effigy of John Barfield was burnt.
He was largely responsible for the church being built. His
house, The Priory, was strategically situated between the
Parish Church and the Independent Church.
constitution for the Independent Church was signed by sixteen
covenanters on 11th November 1811. Four of those sixteen could
not even write their names, a fact which may serve to remind
us of the humble origins of the Christian Faith. During the
first few years at the Independent Church in Church Lane,
services were taken by various students from different theological
colleges. The first permanent minister of the Independent
Church was William Ash. He served as a probationary minister
here for two or three years before being inducted to the permanent
post in June 1813. William originally came from Rotherham
but had moved to Thatcham from Southampton. He remained as
a church minister in Thatcham until his resignation in 1825.
Church later became a Congregational Church within the Congregational
Union of England and Wales. An amalgamation between most Congregational
Churches and the Presbyterian Church (in England) took place
in 1972. Having assented to that union, this Congregational
Church then became the United Reformed Church in Thatcham.
The church building is officially listed as being of architectural
and historic interest.
church minister, the Revd Barbara Flood-Page, is the eighteenth
official minister of the Christian Faith for congregations
in this church. She was inducted as our minister on 8th September
to the United Reformed Church is the 'British School', a building
with its own remarkable history. It was opened as a new school
in September 1847, due largely to the fund-raising efforts
of Mrs Sarah Barfield. She was manager of the school from
its inception until 1852. At that time there were over one
hundred pupils on roll. In 1874 the school became a Public
Elementary School which received a grant from the Government.
Pupils on roll had fallen to thirty-four in number by then
but under the charge of teacher William Brown the number on
roll nearly doubled within a month and increased to one hundred
and forty-seven in just over two years.
teacher's brother, Thomas Henry Brown, was an assistant teacher
at the school. He later occupied the posts of secretary and
treasurer of the British School over a period of twenty-five
years. The last teacher in charge at the British School was
Horatio Skillman who transferred with his staff to the new
Council School in 1913.
has long been associated with 'Dissension' from the Established
Church. Perhaps the earliest recorded Dissenter here was Nicholas
Fuller (solicitor). He became Lord of the Manor of Chamberhouse
when his purchase of the estate was completed in 1585. Mr
Fuller, who probably attended Cambridge University, was a
barrister and a staunch Puritan. He married Sara Backhouse,
whose father was an alderman and sometime Sheriff of London.
The Backhouse family belonged to the Society of Friends.
Fuller's zeal to champion justice for the Non-Conformists
led to him being fined ú200 and imprisoned in 1607. He remained
in captivity (possibly in a tower at Lambeth Palace) for nearly
four months. Twelve years later he died and was buried in
the Parish Church - there is a wall monument to his memory
in the Chapel of Saint Anne. It was recorded by the Bishop
of Salisbury in 1669 that there were just eighteen "obstinate
separatists" in Thatcham out of a population of 865. By 1799
Baptists were holding authorized house meetings at Crookham.
services were begun at the home of Sampson Higgs in 1800 at
Thatcham. John Barfield (solicitor) of The Priory in Church
Lane (Thatcham) was a member of the Newbury Independent (Congregational)
Church but he also attended meetings at Thatcham. In 1803
the cottage owned by Mrs Hannah Baily and in John Barfield's
possession was being used for dissenting services and by the
end of that year John Barfield had probably made the arrangements
to purchase bricks from Dunston House for the building of
an Independent Chapel in Church Lane in 1804.
for this and much of the money for materials and construction
was provided by Mr Barfield himself. In 1821 he drew up a
trust deed which left ú1,000 on his death to remain invested
for the benefit of the officiating minister. In 1825 he had
the old Church Manse (24 Park Lane) built as a permanent residence
for the minister. It was also John Barfield who instituted
proceedings in 1844 to set up the British School in Church
Lane. His wife, Sarah, worked hard raising money for the project.
died in 1851 while still residing at The Priory with Sarah
(thirty years his younger). He was seventy-eight years old.
There is a monument in memory of him on the northern wall
of the United Reformed Church. He is buried beneath the church.
John was not only a material benefactor to Thatcham; he also
collected and retained many local documents, without which
our knowledge of Thatcham's history would have been greatly
R B Tubb