A History of Oxted URC

history_heroAt the end of the nineteenth century, most nonconformists in Oxted travelled to Pains Hill Congregational Chapel for Sunday worship. As Oxted expanded following the arrival of the railway, they formed a new congregation in the town and opened a new church building. It stood on what is today the site of Waitrose in Station Road East. In 1902 Oxted Congregational Church was formally constituted and its first minister appointed.

By 1930 the congregation had outgrown the building in Station Road East, and a new church building on a site in Bluehouse Lane (purchased some years before) was contemplated. Seating 200, it was designed by Frederick Lawrence of Bournemouth, built by E Martin & Sons and opened in 1935 as ‘The Church of the Peace of God’.

Unusually for a non-conformist church, the building was cruciform, in Byzantine style, of brick with round-arched entrances and windows and a two-stage tower with pyramidal roof. A church hall was erected soon afterwards on land to the rear of the church.

In 1966 the Pains Hill congregation, which had until then been in the oversight of the Oxted minister, left the Congregational Union to become an Independent chapel.

By 2000, the costs of upkeep of the large (Grade 2 listed) church building, together with the extensive halls behind, prompted a new vision for ‘The Church of the Peace of God’. In order more effectively to meet the requirements of congregation and community in the 21st century, a multi-purpose building was designed with a new entrance concourse, office and kitchen at the front and a small Peace Hall adjoining at the rear, with its own entrance.

The £700,000 cost of these changes was offset by the sale of the halls site, by gifts from the congregation and various grant-making trusts, including the URC Southern Province, who also lent a large sum.

The refurbished sanctuary, with the newly built concourse and hall, was rededicated in March 2002, and fulfils the needs of the numerous community users of the premises, as well as providing flexible worship and social space for the congregation.