1665-2015: Celebrating 350 years of Abbey Lane Church

1517

Martin Luther nails his “95 Theses” to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, propounding two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds—sparking the Protestant Reformation.

1536

John Calvin publishes his Institutes of the Christian Religion, setting out the theology of reformation.

1641-1660

The English Civil War. Conflicting attitudes towards royal authority and religion brought about a series of events which escalated into armed conflict.

1660

Charles II asked to return to England to restore the monarchy.

1662

The Act of Uniformity decrees that clergy of the Established Church who refused to give ‘unfeigned consent and assent’ to the Anglican Prayer Book would be deprived of their living.

Rev Jonathan Paine LL.D. deprived of his living at Bishop’s Stortford.

1665

According to early records Rev Jonathan Paine laboured greatly among the Non-Conformists in Essex and, three years after his ejectment he had gathered a congregation. He does not appear to have had a settled charge at Saffron Walden but he preached with great acceptance in the town and district for several years.

1689

The Act of Toleration granted Non-Conformists the right to worship as they wished. A new spirit of freedom led to more than one thousand chapels being built in England over twenty years. One was the chapel at Abbey Lane. A piece of land known as Froggs’ orchard was purchased for the sum of £18. With the erection of a meeting house the Church at Abbey Lane secured a permanent place of worship.

1811

The current Church building at Abbey Lane replaces the old Meeting house.

1861

Erection of the schoolroom (Church hall) to celebrate the Jubilee of the Church building.

1972

The Congregational Church joins with the Presbyterian Church to form the United Reformed Church.

2010

Newport United Reformed Church joins with Abbey Lane to form one Church worshipping on two sites.

2014

Saffron Walden Methodists join Abbey Lane & Newport United Reformed Church.

West Essex & Bishop’s Stortford (WEBS) pastorate formed bringing together Abbey Lane & Newport URC, Saffron Walden; Stansted Free Church; Clavering Local Ecumenical Partnership and Water Lane URC, Bishop’s Stortford

Newport URC: a brief history

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One of the principal founders of the dissenting interest which spread to Newport via Arkesden, Clavering and Wenden was Rev. Francis Holcroft, a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge.  After his ejection in 1662 he became Minister to a congregation at Eversden which lies 6 miles W.S.W. of Cambridge; the congregation was drawn from a radius of some twenty miles encompassing Hatfield Heath, Stansted, Arkesden, Clavering and Ely.  From there, separate congregations were ‘planted’, each with their own minister.  From the Meeting at Wood Hall, Arkesden came an initiative determined on 22nd December,1682 which is recorded in the records of the Saffron Walden District of Essex Congregational Union, “At the close of the year 1682, the Clavering and Wenden Church was formed, the Minister preaching at the two places alternately.  In the Autumn of 1778, the Chapel at Wenden, being in a dilapidated state, the trustees pulled it down, and built a new one at Newport to meet the growing wants of that more central village.  A suitable piece of ground was given by a Mr Cranmer of Quendon Hall.”  He was a descendent of the Archbishop of that name.  Continue reading “Newport URC: a brief history”