Two hundred years ago the Abbey Lane congregation wanted a new meeting house. The old one was too small and dilapidated. It lacked the dignity and modernity appropriate to a growing church whose leading members had key roles in making Saffron Walden prosperous.
In January 1810 the trustees took the decision to rebuild. Their initial ‘To Do’ list included: Set up committee. Start collecting money. Decide dimensions of chapel and vestry. Clear part of burial ground (N.B. List inscriptions of removed graves). Chop down trees and sell timber. Plan arrangement of pews.
In October three trustees were charged with procuring contracts and, less than a month later, the full Board agreed to award the contract to William Biggs, of Linton.
After a brief lull in the winter of 1810-11 the building project regained its astonishing momentum. The old meeting house began to be demolished on 4 March and the first brick of its successor was laid on 29 March.
The builders seem to have been fairly lucky with the weather. The 1811 journal of an Essex farmer, William Barnard, records his grumbles about the weather (‘very ungenial’ in April, ‘very variable’ in June), but conditions that were bad for growing crops may have helped brick-laying and plastering.
The building in which we still meet was opened on 17 September 1811.