History

Epping URC is one of the oldest non-conformist churches in Essex where there have been services on the same site in Lindsey Street since 1625, originally in an old barn or malting house. It is thought that the vicar of the parish, Reverend Jeremy Dyke began services here for the benefit of those who were unable to go to the old parish church at Epping Upland. In the first title deed dated 1653, there is mention of a meeting house with no date as to when it had been built, but apparently displacing the old barn or malting house. In 1774 a new building was constructed with the Rev. Sam Saunders giving an interesting account of its construction:

“The old meeting house in at Epping in the county of Essex- very much decay’d- it was thought proper to take it down and to erect a new one. A committee was appointed viz John Green, Francis Milton, John Pressland, John Archer Rich, Lee W Archer, Michael Allen and Edmund Prentise the last mentioned seldom or ever acted being at such a distance from Epping. According to their agreement, the old meeting house was begun to be pulled down on Monday the fourteenth of March 1774. The Rev Sam Saunders the minister at Epping being appointed sole manager and director in ordering the building and overseeing the workmen with the first brick being laid by Rev. Sam Saunders on twenty fourth day of March in the year of our lord 1774. And what is scarce credible to relate tho at such time of year when unsettled weather is to be expected, yet from laying the first brick to finishing the superstructure and striking the scaffolding the workmen were not hindered half an hour. So that the whole building was completed in one month and one day…”   

The new building included an elaborately carved doorway and mouldings outside and a heavy pulpit with a massive carving and square pews for ‘family worship’, three galleries were also added, one for the use of young ladies, one for the poor and one for singers and musicians.  In 1780, the new chapel was put into a trust which was found to have been mortgaged for £200 apparently to the Rev. Samuel Saunders who had recently died, with a new trust-deed found in 1790. During a Sunday school meeting one day in 1839, six young men who were missionary students from Ongar walked in and preached to the church with one of them being David Livingstone, the great African explorer and missionary.  In 1845, an adjoining school room was built on the site of a cottage and stable and was used for thirty years by the British School. The corner stone had been laid in March 1845 by Samuel Gurney Esq with the room being opened by Mr Ince MP and it is now laid in the church garden. In 1887 the whole building underwent complete restoration and considerable extension which included a large gothic front and new organ.

During the 1960s, the left wing of the church was taken down and replaced by new buildings containing sunday school rooms, a kitchen and toilets. At the same time the gravestones outside the front were removed with some being used for a path.

In 1972 the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales joined to form the United Reformed Church. In 1981 the Re-formed Association of Churches of Christ in Great Britain also joined, followed in 2000 by the Congregational Union of Scotland

Between 1972 and 1976 our minister was the Rev. Bryn Austin Rees who wrote the well known hymns ‘The God we seek beyond all thought’, ‘The kingdom of God’ and ‘Have faith in God, my heart.’

By the 1990s the building was becoming dilapidated and difficult to maintain and so it was decided to knock it down and build a new building with the exception of the old school room which became the new sanctuary. The new building was opened on 21st June 1997.

In 2008,  we became twinned with Mbare Presbyterian church in Zimbabwe and both Lindsey and Jason have since visited and in 2014 a delegation from the Zimbabwean Presbytry visited us.