Hitchin’s Christchurch marks 50 years since foundation stone was laid

The foundation stone at Christchurch in Hitchin's Bedford Road. Left to right: Freda and Doris Pette

The foundation stone at Christchurch in Hitchin's Bedford Road. Left to right: Freda and Doris Pettengell (seated), Mandy Pye, Emily Smith, Matthew Crowley, Bernard and Gillian Smallman, Barbara Cook and Brenda Easton. Picture: Christchurch, Hitchin - Credit: Archant

This was the scene as members of a Hitchin church gathered to mark 50 years since the unveiling of their building’s foundation stone.

Members of Christchurch who attended the actual event 50 years ago met at the foundation stone with some of the newest young members of the congregation.

It was the first in a programme of commemorative activities leading up to the Bedford Road church’s golden jubilee celebration next June.

Senior church steward Sara Crowley said most of the building dated back to the late 1960s, but that there was a major extension with new modern facilities around the turn of the century.

“We are grateful to those pioneers who more than half a century ago chose such a handy spot just off the town centre with our own car park and easy access for people with disabilities,” she said. “This allows us to offer a weekly lunch club for older people and their carers.

“Many groups within our local community meet within our building. Several hundred people every week come through our doors – from choirs, to Hitchin Camera Club and NCT classes for prospective parents, as well as National Trust and U3A events.”

The church’s foundation stone was unveiled in September 1968 by Hitchin Urban District Council chairman Beryl Wearmouth.

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The inscription on the stone reads: “To the Glory of God and the fellowship of his people, 1968”. Mrs Wearmouth described Christchurch as “an imaginative and aesthetic building”.

Christchurch, which opened in June 1969, was one of England’s first united churches – bringing together the Methodist churches in Brand Street and Nightingale Road, plus the Congregational church in Queen Street.

“In our 50 years we have had 10 ministers – initially two together from our parent denominations, but more recently one at a time, now alternating between denominations,” said Sara.

“Our next minister will join us next summer, halfway through our golden year.”

She added: “Christchurch is very much a church that welcomes everyone, and our plans as we approach our golden jubilee next year are to extend this further. We have many special events planned and we will invite the local community to celebrate with us.”

To find out more about what’s going on at Christchurch, see christchurchhitchin.org.uk.

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