Winchmore Hill is a district in the Borough of Enfield, north London, in the N21 postal district.
The earliest recorded mention of Winchmore Hill is in a deed dated A.D. 1319 in which it is spelt Wynsemerhull. In Old English, ‘merhull’ translates according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names as ‘boundary hill’. It might be speculated that the overall title could mean ‘Wynsige’s boundary hill’. By 1395 the name had been altered to Wynsmerhull and by 1565 the village was known as Wynsmorehull, becoming Winchmore Hill by the time it was mentioned in state papers in 1586.
At the heart of the area is Winchmore Hill Green and it is close to this that Winchmore Hill United Reformed Church can be found.
Winchmore Hill United Reformed Church – or “The Church By The Bridge” – has come a long way since it started life over 250 years ago in 1742. Its history is complex and the first structure was a modest, wooden chapel, erected on nearby ground then known as Wood Corner.
Having been known under a number of names, including the Independent Church and then later as the Congregational Church, it became part of the United Reformed Church in 1972 when the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches of England joined together.
For further reading, herewith some pertinent extracts from “Fond Memories Of Winchmore Hill” by Alan Dumayne – a former member of the Church.
“The facts relating to the origins of the Independent Church in Winchmore Hill are a little uncertain. There is no doubt, however, that the establishment of an Independent Chapel at Wood Corner, as a house of worship, was second only to the Friends Meeting House in Church Hill.”
“In the early 1840’s, there was work to be done, for the Independents had to find a new home. A fund was opened. Letters of appear, signed by the Pastor, H Pawling and the Deacon, John Radford, were distributed and the building a new sanctuary in Hoppers Road began. This opened for public worship on Tuesday, 13th August 1844, when John Harris, President of Cheshunt College, preached the opening sermon at 11 am and George Clayton, of Walworth, conducted the evening service at 6 pm. At the time only on quarter of the building costs had been raised and a further appeal was made for assistance ‘to all who love our Lord Jesus, so that not only the present generation, but also future generations shall rise up to call to the Redeemer Blessed’.”
“There is evidence that the old Independent Meeting House was demolished by John Radford in 1848, ie 4 years after the move to Hoppers Road, which infers that he was the owner or trustee of the building and that his ancestors may have granted the original lease.
“The new sanctuary, officially the New Independent Chapel of Winchmore Hill, was situated on the eastern side of Hoppers Road, where the skew bridge now spans the railway, nearly opposite Downes Court. …. The Chapel was a white brick building of more ambitious ecclesiastical design than its predecessor, with high Gothic pinnacles and long lancet windows. It was well set back from the road, in very rural surroundings, with laurel bushes marking the boundary of the property. In 1846, the Rev J Charles Richards was appointed Minister. The new chapel was to last but a quarter of a century for, on 1st January 1870, the Church authorities had to vacate the premises prior to demolition” to make way for the coming of the railway.
“At this time a temporary ‘Iron Chapel’, constructed of corrugated iron, was erected on ground allocated to the authorities by the Great Northern Railway, for a rent free period of 2 years, as from 21st October 1869. I have very little information about this building, except that it was 20 feet wide and 32 feet deep, with a central entrance porch way.”
“The events leading up to the transfer and creation of the new church at the top of Compton Road, as we know it today, are open to conjecture. It may be that a temporary chapel was built on the present site, prior to the subsequent erection of the Congregational Church. There is no building shown on the 1867 Ordnance Survey and the Minute Books of the period record the ‘re-opening’ of the Church in 1873. During modern structural repairs to the Church, foundations have been uncovered indicating the existence of a building prior to the present one. Was this a smaller edifice, temporarily used for worship after the Iron Chapel had been vacated, or was the temporary use of the Iron Chapel extended until the new church was ready?
“There is much to record as the Congregational Church grew into the 20th Century and continued to develop. As with most denominations, there have been man trials and tribulations to negotiate, including two World Wars. The merger took place, in 1972, between the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches of England, to create the United Reformed Church. Both before and since, it has gained the reputation as a friendly and caring house of God, where the religious and social activities have been guided by a succession of very fine Ministers.”
The United Reformed Church
The United Reformed Church was first formed in 1972 by a union of the Presbyterian Church of England and the majority of churches in the Congregational Church in England and Wales. It was joined later by the Re-formed Association of the Churches of Christ in 1981 and the Congregational Union of Scotland in 2000.
The oldest churches have a history going back to the 17th century and the Reformation. Other congregations were formed during the Evangelical Revival in the eighteenth century or by denominational expansion in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.