United church celebrates a decade

9:44am Friday 23rd September 2005

By Times reporter

The weekend of September 24 and 25 marks ten years since the merging of the Kew Road Methodist church with the old St Paul's United Reformed church.

The original church of St Paul's was opened for public worship on December 12th 1898. It was paid for by a Mr and Mrs Charles Burt of Richmond, to provide for the religious needs of a rapidly growing new district of Richmond (as the only other congregational church was situated in the Vineyard a mile and a half away).

The building was destroyed by enemy action on October 1 1940. The current church was rebuilt with the present building being opened on Saturday December 8, 1956.

Methodism in Richmond went back as far as 1773 (so well within the life of John Wesley himself) and a number of initial sites were used for worship prior to the Kew Road site.

The original Kew Road church opened in 1868, on a site purchased from a portion of the Countess of Shaftesbury's estate.

It originally acted as a chapel on Sundays and a day school during the week (though the school part closed in 1927).

A new, separate chapel was added to this chapel-cum-school in 1872, which seated 1,000 people. It was destroyed by fire only nine years later in 1881, but quickly rebuilt again in 1882.

This church lasted 55 years until 1937. The church always maintained close links with the Methodist College as based in Richmond.

In 1933 a new church was required to accommodate both Kew Road and Sheen Road churches and it was decided to develop the Kew Road site.

In 1937 the old church was demolished and the most recent church was erected. This closed in 1995 with the merger with St Paul's United Reformed church and a block of flats now occupy the site.

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