This church……….As you came up the church path you crossed the site of an old coaching inn and you are now in what was one of its outbuildings. Its date? Before 1640. That was when a small group of people known as Dissenters or Independents, who believed that Christ, not the Sovereign, was Head of the Church and therefore the Church should be independent of state control. They risked imprisonment by holding services here. Later the law was relaxed and in 1705 they were able to acquire the building and adapt it for use as a place of worship.
They called their churches ‘Meeting Houses’, that is, places where people could come together and meet with God and one another. They had to be somewhere where you could see what was happening. Hence the design and lay-out of this building. The emphasis in the services was on preaching and reading from the Bible, usually done from a pulpit, together with the communion service which was (and still is) known as the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, conducted from a table rather than an altar.
Entering by the main door and through the vestibule you find yourself in a typical ‘meeting house’ church. This style of building was very common among Nonconformists who saw a church as essentially a place where people came and met with God and with one another. A simple style, its purpose is to ensure that wherever members of the congregation sit they can hear what is being said and see what is happening.
You will notice that there are chairs instead of the usual pews, that two wooden pillars support the roof, that under the gallery are various rooms where other churches might have chapels. In the centre at the front is the pulpit, in front of which is not an altar but a table and by now you may be wondering what it all means and how it all began……
As time went by the Independents became known as Congregationalists and then more widely along with Baptists and Presbyterians as Nonconformists and in more recent times with the Methodists as the Free Churches.
The two wooden pillars are the masts of ships in which Huguenots fled from persecution in France in the 17th Century, and are tokens of the gratitude these refugees felt for the way they were received and made welcome in the town of Sandwich.
A century later John Wesley was visiting these parts and needed somewhere to accommodate the people who gathered to hear him. This church was made available and on 26th November 1788 he preached here.
During World War I Sandwich became a centre of military activity and the church was often filled with troops stationed here. In World War II it was a very different matter. Coastal towns like Sandwich were largely evacuated and some churches were forced to close. This Church remained open but then in 1974 the premises suffered a serious outbreak of dry rot. This resulted in the demolition of the rear hall and the conversion of the church into a dual purpose building with the chairs replacing the pews and the space under the gallery being used to provide a vestry and kitchen together with two utility rooms.
In 1972 the Congregational Church in England and Wales joined with the Presbyterian Church of England to form the United Reformed Church. Sandwich is part of the Sandwich and Thanet Cluster within the Southern Synod. In recent years the Churches of Christ and the Scottish Congregational Union have been welcomed into the URC.
Over a period of nearly 400 years this church has seen many changes and today with the other churches in the town it seeks to serve the one Lord who is ‘the same yesterday, today and for ever’.
September 2008
  • Sees the local church as the focal point for its mission.
  • Supports churches in their work through its Area Coordination teams.
  • Emphasises the preaching of the Word in its services and regularly celebrates the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Communion).
  • Practices infant and adult baptism.
  • Ministry is open to men and women.
  • Leadership is shared by Ministers and Elders.
  • Attends to its affairs and responsibilities through four councils: the Church Meeting (at local level), the Area Coordination Team, the Provincial Synod and the General Assembly, each working and consulting with the others.
  • Is committed to work for further unity.
  • Respects the individual conscience within the peace and unity of the church.
An almost full church saw the ordination, and induction to Sandwich and Ash Congregational Churches of the Rev. Graham Ellis Henry Long on Monday night at Sandwich Congregational Church. The service was attended by members of the Congregational and other Free Churches and also by the Mayor and Mayoress of Sandwich, Alderman and Mrs A H Jutson.
Mr Long is, at 25, one of the youngest ministers ever to be ordained into the Congregational Church.
The service was conducted by the Moderator of the Southern Province of the Congregational Union of England Wales the Rev. W. Andrew James, M.A. and Rev. Long was given the right hand of fellowship by representatives of the Ash and Sandwich Church, by the Rev. H Carter Lloyd (Chairman of the Kent Congregational Association and minister of Ramsgate Congregational Church) on behalf of the Kent Congregational Association , and by the Rev. David Scotland (minister of Roak Lane Congregational Church) on behalf of the Canterbury District of the Kent Congregational Association.
The Ash and Sandwich Churches have been without a minister since the death of the Rev.R.S.J.Dewis. Rev. Long was married in June. His wife, Sheila, is a member of the Congregational Church.
The Chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, the Rev. John Huxtable M.A., who is also Principal of New College, London, addressed the charge to the Minister. The charge to the churches was addressed by Rev. Geoffrey Duckorth, M.A., B.Litt., the Minister of Rook Lane Congregational Church, Frome. Mr Huxstable spoke on the guidance of God. He said that when a minister accepted his calling he was accepting God’s leading. “We need not have done that. We could have done something else. We could have gone our own way and probably become very respectful citizens. Certainly more prosperous ones. But it is the call of God Himself.” The Christian, he said, was the athlete of Christ. He told Mr Long “Go where He leads. Don’t go where He does not lead.” He said the congregation did not expect ministers to be perfect. And yet, at the same time, when a minister did something wrong, somehow the wrong seemed worse than when done by someone else. “Really, it is not worse. Sin is sin whoever commits it. And yet somehow it is worse, I simply know that it is true. A minister is, I believe, to be an example of what God can do.”
In the charge of the churches Mr Duckworth spoke on the church members’ relationship to Christ, to each other, and to their minister.
Mr A.S.Chandler of Sandwich, who gave a statement on behalf of the Ash and Sandwich churches, recalled the ministry of the Rev. R.S.J.Dewis. “After only 18 months as minister of these two churches Mr Dewis was recalled to Higher Service. Mr Chandler went on, “When the Moderator visited us last December he mentioned to us the name of Mr Graham Long who was then studying for the ministry at New College, London. He suggested that we might like to invite him to come to our church as a preacher. “He came in March and made a deep impression. He was asked back again, this time with a view to him being asked to accept the ministry here.” After the second visit, he recalled, a church meeting unanimously decided to ask Mr Long to come to the churches.
Mr. Long told the almost full congregation that he had felt it definitely to be God’s Will that he should accept the ministry at Ash and Sandwich. He spoke highly of those who had enabled him to undertake his four years training at New College – he had entered the college four years ago last Tuesday – and also of those who had helped him in his training for the ministry. He recalled the war years when he was in North London. At the Congregational Sunday School he attended he said he was not an apt pupil. Later the family moved away from London and he joined a Crusader Class, going to rallies and other meetings. In time he felt that God was calling him to accept full-time service and despite having studied for three years to be a chartered surveyor he accepted the call and started training for the church. He said the decision had not been an easy one and it was not accepted by his family without a certain unease.
This article was published in the East Kent Mercury October 1962. There is a picture of the event in the Image Gallery
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Sandwich Congregational Church WW1 Roll of Honour

Akhurst Norman Walter : Lieut : Machine Gun Corps - 35th Company : 22yo : died 1918-06-08 : Buried Doullens Communal Cemetery, Ext 2, Somme, France. Grave ID13 :school Manwoods 1909-11 : born Sandwich : resident Sandwich : Parents James & Minnie Elizabeth Akhurst, The Priory, (13 Market Street),  Sandwich.

Blaxland Eric Percy : Rifleman 535425 : London Regiment (1st/15th Battalion, Prince of Wale's Own Civil Service Rifles - posted 1st/9th Battalion Queen Victoria's Rifles : 22yo : died 1917-08-16 : Menin Gate Panel 54, Ieper, Belgium : school Sandwich Council School + Manwoods 1906-1910 : born Sandwich : resided Sandwich : parents William & Lily Blaxland, School House, Cottage Row, Sandwich : enlisted Falmouth.

Durban Ernest : Private G/4433 : The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) (7th Battalion) : 22yo : died 1915-07-01 : Thiepval Memorial , Pier & Face 5D, Somme, France : school Sandwich Council School :born Sandwich : resided Sandwich : parents Frederick & Elizabeth Durban, The Butts (Loop Street), Sandwich : enlisted Sandwich.

Foster Cecil Percy : Private 47912 : Royal Fusiliers (13th Battalion) : 21yo : died 1918-10-23 : buried Ghissignies British Cemetery, Nord, France Grave A59 : school Sandwich Council School : born Dartford : resided Sandwich : parents Demetrius & Emma Foster, Cholaghur, Dover Road, Sandwich : wife Linda Foster, Chase Farm School, Enfield, Middlesex : enlisted Canterbury.

Keesey George Ernest Howard : Captain : Rifle Brigade (8th Battalion) : 30yo : died 1916-08-24 : buried Serre Road Cemetery No2, Somme, France Grave XXV-L8 : born Croydon : resided Sandwich : parents Rev George Walton & Annie Keesey (Congregational Church minister) : wife Violet Marian Keesey, Helme Bank, Kendal.

Kendall Percy William : Private G/22259 : Queen's Own (6th Battalion) (Royal West Surrey Regiment) : 35yo : died 1917-11-30 : Cambrai Memorial, Panel 3, Louveral, Nord, France : born Ash : resided Sandwich : parents James & Frances Maria (nee Court) Kendall, 1 Church Street St Mary, Sandwich : wife Elizabeth Kendall : enlisted Canterbury.

Kendall Stephen John : Private 1141 : Rifle Brigade (3rd Battalion) : 30yo : died 1918-11-19 : Boatman's Hill Cemetery, Sandwich (Invalided from Army 1918-06 with leg wound. Died from pneumonia 1918-09) : born Sandwich : resided Sandwich : parents James & Frances Maria (nee Court) Kendall, 1 Church Street St Mary, Sandwich : enlisted Canterbury.

Kendall James : Lance Corporal G/6153 : The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) (1st Battalion) : 26yo : died 1917-03-18 : buried Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay, Pas de Calais, France Grave IP12 : school Sandwich Council School : born Ash : resided Sandwich : parents James & Frances Maria (nee Court) Kendall, 1 Church Street St Mary, Sandwich : enlisted Sandwich.

Langley Hubert John : Private G/11528 : Queen's Own (10th Battalion) (Royal West Kent Regiment) : 21yo : died 1916-07-01 : buried Tancrez Farm Cemetery, Ploegsteert, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium Grave IH33 : school Sandwich Council School : born Worth : resided Sandwich : parents John & Sarah Ann Langley, 33 Strand Street, Sandwich : enlisted Sandwich

Porter Frederick Herne : Private M/282579 : Army Service Corps MT Depot : 19yo : died 1917-06-20 : buried Nottingham General Cemetery Grave 13307 : born Nottingham : resided Sandwich : parents Sam D & Pamela Porter, 53 Russell Road, Forest Fields, Nottingham.

Ralph Harold Frederick : Lance Corporal G/2994 : Queen's Own (10th Battalion) (Royal West Surrey Regiment) NB formerly of The Buffs : 24yo : died 1915-09-25 : Loos Memorial, Panels 13-15, Pas de Calais, France : school Sandwich Council School + Manwoods 1902-1907 : born Deal : resided Sandwich : parents Frederick John & Caroline Cornes Ralph, Lord Warden Public House, St George's Road, Sandwich : enlisted Sandwich.

Stone Albert : Sergeant 868 : Royal Field Artillery (222nd Brigade) : 21yo : died 1915-08-30 : buried Basra War Cemetery,Iraq Grave IVS3 : school Sandwich Council School : born Swanscombe :resided Sandwich : parents Amos & Ellen (nee Walkling) Stone, North Poulders, Richborough Road, Sandwich : enlisted Sandwich.



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Excerpt from the Local Press.

Coronation Fayre at Sandwich – 1937

Mrs Wise opens Congregational Sale of Work

There was a large gathering at the St Peter’s Hall when Mrs. Wise, wife of Dr C. S. Wise opened the annual sale of work in connexion with the Congregational Church which this year took the form of a “Coronation Fayre”. The opening ceremony was presided over by Mr W.J.Akhurst, who was supported by Mrs Wise, the Rev W.E.Dunt (pastor) and Mrs. Dunt, and the Rev A.J.Wiffen (Methodist Church). After the singing of the Hymn “Praise my soul the King of Heaven”, the reading of a portion of Scripture and a Prayer, the Chairman extended a hearty welcome to all present and expressed gratitude for all their help. Bazaars of today, he said, differed very much from bazaars of the past in that they could now buy useful articles, whereas formerly they used to spend their money on things that were very little acceptable. He regretted that Mrs. Chivas Adams had been unable to open the bazaar but was pleased that they had been fortunate enough to secure the services of Mrs. Wise whose interest in the town was well known. Mrs. Adams, he added, was being presented with the cushion she would have received if she had been present.

Pastor Dunt voiced the thanks of the Church to all those who had worked so hard for the Bazaar and expressed sympathy with several workers who were unable to attend through sickness and other causes to be present. He also joined in the regret that Mrs. Chivas Adams could not be present and said how much they appreciated Mrs. Wise coming forward at such short notice to fill the gap. He paid tribute, too, to the work of Mrs. Gibson and Miss Morton and all the ladies who contributed to the success of the Bazaar. Mrs. Wise briefly declared the Bazaar open and was presented, amid applause, with a handsome bouquet by Wendy Johnson.

The stall-holders were as follows; Parcels Miss Hearn and Mr. Eric Burley; Speedwell the Junior Girls Guildery; Flowers and vegetables Mr. Long and helpers; Sweets Mrs. Diprose and Mrs. Cook; Church needlework Mrs. Dunt, Mrs. Burley and Miss Morton; Cakes Miss Madge Clark and Miss Burley; Grocery Mrs Bryce and Miss D. Potts, Woollies Mrs. Long, Mrs. A. Long and helpers; Refreshments Mrs. Gibson, Miss Cryer and helpers; Sunday School and Young People Miss Cryer and Mrs. V. Johnson and helpers; Concerts Miss Blackwell and Mr. Cook; Competitions Mr.E.C.Burley, Mr. Taylor and helpers; Cooked Meat Mr. Marsh; Handkerchiefs Mrs. & Miss Deveson and Mr. A.Statham; Cake Competition Mrs. Cornelius; Mother’s Stall Mrs. Pittock, Mrs. Wisdom, Mrs. Spicer and helpers; Pencils H. Green; Phrenologist etc Miss Chibbett; Door Stewards Messrs. J.Burley, Hurst and Cook.

The Concerts included greatly-enjoyed selections by a small orchestra conducted by Mr. Max Burwood and solos by Mr. Sidney Marsh (bass), Mrs. Cornelius (soprano), Miss Morgan (elocution)

Ministers of Sandwich Church 1690 -
The church was in existence before 1643.
It stood behind The Star Inn
It was rebuilt in 1706
Rev. John Benson
Rev. James Davies (Conformed)
Rev. Joseph Gellibrand
Rev. Edward Armstrong
Rev. William Tichborne
Rev. Evans
Rev. James Garner, M.D.
Rev John Bertram
Rev. James Milne M.A.
Supplied by itinerant preachers until…..
Rev. John Gore from Hoxton
went to Barbican, London
Rev. William Chapman from Newport Pagnell
went to Greenwich
Rev. William Tomlin
went to Cheshire
Rev. Samuel Torr
Rev. William Cornwall
Rev. Mason Anderson from Chalfont St Giles
Rev. D.R.Thomason
Rev. James Knight from Kingston upon Thames
went to Rye
Rev. Thomas Rowson from Hackney College
New School opened May 27th 1845
Rev. William Rose from Alford
went to Bristol
Rev. John Hillier Ph.D. from Tonbridge
Rev. Robert Hobson
went to Old Meeting House, Nowich
Rev. Thomas Cushing from Norwich
Rev. W.H.Towle drom Hackney College
went to Harleston
Rev. John Sherwood from Isleworth
went to Milton
Rev. E Goodison from Earlsheaton
went to Hythe
Rev. G.W. Keesey from Leigh, Tonbridge
went to London
Rev.G.P.Thomas Ph.D. from Bassingbourne
went to Chertsey
Mr. E. Rushton
went to Devon
Rev. Rowland W. Young from Hammersmith Broadway
went to Maidstone
Rev. R.E. Young
Mr. W.E.Dunt from Templefield Surrey
went to Lincoln
Rev. E. Pritchard from Corfe Castle
went to Stroud, Glos
Rev. R.S. Dewis
Rev.G.E.H. Long from New College
went to Jersey
Sandwich joined with Ash during the above ministry
Group was formed - Sandwich, Ash,Wingham, Preston, Deal
Rev. Fred Card from Shrewsbury
went to Chard
Rev. Ivor Howells from Halifax
went to Dudley
The URC was formed between the Congregational Church of England and Wales and the
Presbyterian Church of England on 5th October 1972 and the Re-formed Assoc of Jesus Christ
on 26th September 1981
Wingham and Preston churches closed. Sandwich and Ash joined Deal United Methodist/URC
Rev Gordon Palmer
went to Crowborough
Rev. Peter Hartley
went to Polegate
Rev. John Braund from Westminster College, Camb
Rev. Harry Lanham at Trinity Deal
Deal and District was wound up in Sept 1999
Interim Moderator Rev Norman Setchell
Rev Jaroslav Raich industrial minister part time at Sandwich
Local Church Leader Anne Catherall commissioned by Cluster on 23.10.2004
The Sandwich & Thanet Cluster was born
Rev. Bob Woods cluster minister
Rev Samuel Cyuma Cluster Minister
went to Wickford
Rev John Waller interim moderator
Rev Dr Alan Spence
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