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Our History



Stansted United Reformed Church


The first church of the Reformed and non-conformist tradition was built at Stansted in 1698.  There had been a tradition of Puritan Churchmanship in the village, as Robert Abbot (the vicar of Stansted during the Cromwellian period) was an avowed Presbyterian and the Parish Church at that time sent two elders to the Presbytery of Uttlesford and Clavering.  Abbot was ejected from the Parish Church after the Bishops came back with the King in 1660.  Those of Abbot's persuasion, who could not accept the demands of the returning royalists, joined others in the area to meet in Arkesden.  People travelled from miles around when they founded a church at Arkesden in 1682-83.  Eventually from this gathering another Dissenters’ church at Clavering was formed.


Around 1687 the people of Stansted decided to form a church of their own.  Like the Stansted Methodists later on, it is likely that the church first met in people's houses, eventually moving into a converted barn on the present church site in Chapel Hill in 1698.  Over the next 150 years the original barn was extended and altered to accommodate the church until the present building was constructed in 1864-65, for which the total outlay including boundary walls was £1600!!  Since then many changes have occurred to the building and Constitution.  The Independents became Congregationalists, who then in 1972 joined with the Presbyterians and Churches of Christ to form the United Reformed Church.


Years rolled on and the size of church congregations had reduced. Large Victorian buildings are not ideally suited for smaller congregations.  In 2001, following an intensive fund raising effort,  a major refurbishment took place - removing the pews; making the church smaller, fully accessible, and more welcoming; providing a spacious entrance foyer which can also be used for meetings; and constructing a small car park on land at the rear of the church not previously used.  Two years later the hall was renovated to provide full disabled access, and a modern kitchen was fitted.  The hall is well used by a variety of organisations in the village.



Stansted Methodist Church


There have been many changes since the first few Methodist souls met in someone’s house in Cambridge Road back in 1851.  At that time the British Empire was at its peak and the industrial revolution was in full swing.  Crowds from around the world were flocking to Hyde Park to admire the Great Exhibition and its Crystal Palace home.  History was being made.  But by 1922 the Empire was out of fashion, strikes were prevalent, there had been a Great War and the Primitive Methodist Chapel that had been built with such enthusiasm in Cambridge Road less than 50 years earlier was closed due to poor attendance.  The Wesleyans took over in 1929, but never again did the Methodists own a place of worship in Stansted.  Over the past 75 years, we have been fortunate to be able to use the earlier and later buildings owned by the Society of Friends, and we are very grateful to them for that.  We now begin a chapter in our history with a new home and taking a new name. Once Primitive, then Wesleyan and now Free.




Stansted Free Church Local Ecumenical Partnership


As long ago as 1983, the two congregations worshipped together for a trial period of eight months, alternating between the United Reformed Church and the Meeting House.   However, the time was not right for a formal coming together.  Discussions began again in 2001, when both congregations realised that they could be a more powerful witness in the village if they were united as one church.  The joining process started in September 2001 with one joint service every three months.  At the beginning of 2004, this became monthly, and the following year was increased to two services each month. At the same time, the two churches worked together with the District Ecumenical Officers to produce a constitution that met the requirements of Local Ecumenical Partnerships.  The two churches have worshipped as one congregation since 1st September 2006.