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St. John’s Free Church of England, Pinchbeck Street

Remember the spire in our post about the top of Pinchbeck Rd. Click HERE

Well here is the explanation.

The Free Church of England movement arose in Spalding in 1873, when William Thomas Capps, of High Street, timber merchant, and William Eusebius Dandy, grocer (of the firm of Stableforth & Dandy), together with several other influential residents seceded from the Church of England as a protest against what they considered to be the introduction of ritualistic practices into the Parish Church services. Meetings were held in the Corn Exchange, and afterwards in the old Assembly Rooms in Broad Street. In 1874 a corrugated iron place of worship was erected in Pinchbeck Street at a cost of £2000. The building was neatly and comfortably fitted inside, having a chancel, organ and communion table. Outside there was a tall spire containing a large bell. Seating accommodation was provided for 520 persons. In the following year a Sunday School was added. This was situated at the back of the church, and the foundation excepted, was made entirely of wood. There were then about 80 Sunday School scholars.

For several years the church flourished. On Sunday, 27th November, 1881, there were 136 present at the morning service, and 126 who attended in the evening. In the early 1880’s dissensions arose. Attendance fell. There were financial problems. Except during the first few years of the movement there was always a considerable financial deficiency for one or two of the more affluent members of the church to make up – W. E. Dandy contributing from £30 to £50 a year as his share of the extra expenses. In April, 1890, following a meeting of the congregation it was decided to close the church, and offer the building for sale, the last service being held on 5th October, 1890.

There were four ministers during the 17 years the movement was in existence in Spalding. They were the Rev. P. X. Eldridge (who later became a Bishop in the Reformed Episcopal Church),.

The photograph shows the spire of St. John’s Free Church – the church itself being largely hidden by trees.

Rev. C. W. Lamport (appointed Pastor, in 1881, at a salary of £120 per annum), the Rev. G. S. Lee(who later joined the Church of England, and became Rector of Benniworth, near Lincoln), and the Rev. A. R. Gaze.

The building was then used by the Salvation Army, but was soon found to be too big for their requirements, and they moved to the schoolroom, which they occupied as their barracks. The church was eventually purchased by a Spalding furniture dealer, who sold the seats to the Vicar of Spalding for one of his churches, and turned the building into a furniture warehouse. It was later used by the Spalding Motor Company as a car showroom, and finally occupied by H. Leverton & Co. Ltd. as a showroom, drawing office, store shed and electrician’s workshop.

Thanks to Aspect of Spalding for this extract and Pat Wensor.

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