The village of Stoke Row has enjoyed its Chapel for more than 200 years – in 2015 the little building on the edge of the village green, celebrated its 200th anniversary, with a variety of events marking the occasion.
Stoke Row Independent Chapel was built in 1815, although there had been a history of Dissenters meeting in the village as far back as 1691. At that time they gathered in the drawing room of a local farmhouse.
In the early years, services were conducted by visiting Ministers or Licensed Lay Preachers, but in 1955 a wealthy local farmer, who had been a strong supporter all his life, bequeathed a large piece of land opposite the Chapel and on this houses were built. The resulting finance enabled a house to be built for the Minister and for a great deal of modernisation to be carried out at the Chapel, including modern heating and the provision of a kitchen and toilets. A trust was also established and this provides for the exterior of both buildings.
Our ministers in recent years
In 1978, Padre Bernard Railton Bax took over the ministry and, together with his wife, Yvonne, brought great life and warmth to the Chapel and this work was continued after Padre Bax’s death in 1990 by Rev John Harrington and his wife, Nina. Sadly, Nina died in 1996 and Rev Harrington retired at the wonderful age of 87, after thirteen years of service. The Chapel was then well served by Revd David Holmwood and his wife, Trish between 2004 and 2010. The Revds David and Sonia Jackson then served the Chapel wonderfully and enthusiastically for six years, retiring in early 2016. They were replaced by Revd Mark Taylor and his wife Rosie, who arrived in the village in March 2016 and have settled well into village life and their work with the Chapel.
The Chapel has always been independent, but it has neighbourly links with the local Church of England, St John’s of Stoke Row. There was once a move to integrate with the Congregational Church, but this idea did not materialise. The Chapel has an ecumenical attitude and residential Ministers come from varied denominational backgrounds and traditions. We also enjoy occasional visiting preachers who come from a variety of church traditions. We love to join with other nearby churches whenever the occasion and opportunity present itself.
Today Stoke Row Chapel has a warm and welcoming congregation of about 60 members and around 30 attend on a regular basis. The Chapel has an active choir which sings every week, an unusual blessing and enjoyment for a small community. We have a communion service on the first Sunday each month, and a family service every third Sunday.
Worshipping and praising God in the spirit of truth, and endeavouring to serve the local community on an individual and collective basis. We organise a mid-week Bible Study Group and encourage various art, social, and crafts groups who regularly meet in our Chapel fellowship room. We visit the sick and housebound, and we are always approachable about weddings, Christenings, and funerals.
The Chapel Council maintains a dignified but friendly atmosphere, but the simple warmth and humour in our worship appeal to many people and some adherents come from as far as 25 miles away in order to attend on a regular basis. If you live in the area and are looking for a church home, do visit us any Sunday – you will be made very welcome. We would love you to consider making us your regular church home.
MINISTERS OF STOKE ROW INDEPENDENT CHAPEL
Records prior to 1959 not available
1959 – 1965 Pastor Ernest Dickerson
1967 – 1972 Revd John Potts
1973 – 1975 Revd Arthur Tilling
1977 – 1990 Revd Padre Bernard Railton Bax
1990 – 2004 Revd John Harrington
2004 – 2010 Revd David Holmwood
2010 – 2016 Revd David and Revd Sonia Jackson
2016 – present Revd Mark Taylor