OUR HISTORY

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Storrington Chapel (originally Cootham Mission Hall) has stood as a witness to the power of God in Jesus Christ to people locally for over one hundred and fifty years.

In 1863 the wife of the well-known Rev. P. B. Power visited Storrington. Whilst staying as a visitor at Brook House she saw an opportunity to try to reach the people with the Gospel and therefore announced her purpose to hold a series of Bible readings there. 

Mr Walter Stanford of Springhead Farm, who attended the series, was converted to God.  He was inspired to start holding open-air religious meetings and went, with a small like-minded group and a small folding organ visiting local villages, taking chairs with them.  These meetings proved to be popular - sometimes too poular, as once or twice found himself in Police Court for alleged obstruction of the King's Highway.  He realised that he needed somewhere more permanant to hold the meetings.  Walter Stanford's shepherd, a Mr Nicholls, had been brought to the Lord and, after discussions between the two, the shepherd agreed, only to happily, to hold meetings at his cottage in Clay Lane, Cootham.

Walter Stamford, wanting to expand the work, engaged Henry Wicker, who was a miller at Storrington Mill, to work as an evangelist, hold meetings and visit the people.  Henry Wicker worked tirelessly at his task for five years until his health deteriorated and he passed, sometime later, into glory in July 1873, at the age of only 37.

In 1872 the landlord of Springhead Farm, who objected to the "dissenting practices" of non-conformist meetings being held on his property, forbade Walter Stanford from using Cootham Barn for meetings and, if he did not, he would be unable to stay at Springhead Farm.  Prayers were made that God would intervene.  When no ther way seemed open, he heard that three cottages were for sale , and immediately went to the owner, paid a deposit and secured them.  Later the same day, an opponant, who had heard of the plan, called and offered double the amount to the owner, but he was just too late. 

The interior of the cottages was removed and converted into a meeting place for 60-80 people (Cootham Mission Hall) and accommodation for an evangelist.

By 1907, services were being held both at Cootham Mission Hall and in Storrington, in a tent erected on land adjacent to West Street.  It was felt that the situation of Cootham Mission Hall was a disadvantage (at least in those days) and it was decided to move from Cootham to Storrington. 

A new mission hall, mainly built of corrugated iron (a design often referred to as a "tin tabernacle"), was built in the High Street opposite the gas-works and was capable of accommodating 200 people.

On 31st July, Cootham mission were able to open their new mission hall. Lunch was served in the mission tent and, in the afternoon, an inaugural service was held in the hall.  A public tea was held afterwards in the tent and, in the evening, there was a public meeting in the hall.

Preaching had become increasingly difficult owing the increased noise of traffic by 1937.  It was therefore decided that a new, quieter location should be found. 

A plot of land in North Street, where the Chapel still stands, was donated by the family of the late Mr and Mrs T Gatley as a memorial to their parents. The new brick and stone building was opened with a service led by Pastor Mustow on 14th July 1937.  That afternoon there was a large attendance at a tea in the village hall and so many came to the evening service that not everyone could gain admission.

The old mission hall in the High Street was purchased by Mr Charles Greenfield.  The building was consecrated by the Bishop of Chichester as a Chapel of Rest. At the back was Messrs. Greenfield's garage and upholstery workshop.  In 1970 the building was demolished and the site is now the paved area (with the Storrington village sign) next to the stream at the entrance to Old Mill Drive.

 

Jesus Christ, the Son of God said:
"I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John 3:3).

 

That's our history of our journey as a church - will you join us and start your own journey?

© 2019 STORRINGTON CHAPEL EVANGELICAL CHURCH.

The new extension and front porch.

With Ralph Richards. former church secretary, in September 1994