Although St Giles’ is by far the older of the two Ickenham churches, it may surprise many to realise that the ‘younger’ URC now has a history of over 170 years in the village.
United Reformed Church, Swakeleys Road, Ickenham
The first formal, non-conformity meetings in Ickenham were held in 1831in the cottage home of Mr and Mrs William Brickett. These services proved very popular so the search began three years later for land on which to build a Chapel. A plot of ‘waste ground’ was found in the High Road by Ickenham Green, and was acquired for the princely sum of £6 7s 6d. By 1835 the Independent Chapel, later known as the Congregational Church, was built there at a cost of £160. (This structure, now looking rather sorry for itself, today serves as a depository for re-cycled materials).
Congregational Church, High Road, Ickenham
The advent of rail travel and the development of housing on the Swakeleys Estate and Ickenham Manor estate lands resulted in a rapid increase in the population. The Chapel was soon ‘bulging at the seams’. A full-time Minister was appointed in 1927 and by then the Church was clearly too small so a new site was being sought.
Christ Church URC, Leatherhead
Even then, relations with the Parish Church of St Giles’ were very cordial. Thus, land belonging to the latter, next to their new Rectory in Back Lane, (now Swakeleys Road), was sold to the Congregational Church in 1928. Until the new church was completed in 1936, services were held in the then recently-opened Village Hall.
The new Congregational Church was designed by Percy W Meredith, who had been responsible also for a remarkably similar building (externally at least) in Leatherhead. It is a fine, brick building with ‘moderne’ details, apparently reaching up to heaven. Among those who were invited to lay foundation stones in May, 1936 was Mrs Perry, granddaughter of William Brickett.
The church was built with remarkable rapidity and opened with suitable ceremony on 7th October, 1936. The organ, which had been designed by Mr Willis of Uxbridge for his own drawing room was obtained and dedicated at a service in December of the same year. Amazingly, this instrument still continues today to serve its purpose!
Continued success and formation of new groups and activities soon signalled the need for enlarged premises. An appeal was launched in 1946 for the New Hall, with seating for 200, and a smaller hall for primary school use and games. These, together with ancillary buildings, were duly completed and dedicated in 1953. Further developments were completed in 1972 and again ten years later. The latter were financed thanks considerably to a legacy from a staunch church supporter, Stanley Hardwick, and individual gifts and loans from members. The result was extensions to the vestries and kitchen and a new room to be used solely for the Church, called, after Stanley, the ‘Hardwick Room’.
The Congregational Church and the Presbyterian Church merged in 1972 to become “The United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom”, hence the present name. One of the happiest occasions in its pleasant history was the 1985 joint service to celebrate the Covenant signed between St Giles’ and Ickenham’s URC. Both churches were filled to capacity, with the children holding their own commemorative Junior Church jointly in the Village Hall. Together this year we have celebrated that significant event as well as achieving yet another unforgettable Holiday Club. The URC has come a long way from those early meetings in William Brickett’s cottage!
DROP-IN FOR THE BEREAVED. Third Monday of each month. St Giles’ Church Hall, 2pm to 3.30pm. A friendly, informal opportunity for a chat, over a cup of tea, with other bereaved people and pastoral visitors. The next meeting is on Monday 15th October (then Monday 19th November). Just come along, or ring the Rectory (622970) if you would like to talk to someone first.