Around the URC in seven days: 27 February-3 March 2023 

A round-up of news from around the United Reformed Church over the past seven days, 27 February-3 March 2023. 

Minister’s letter delights Northampton football club 

Northampton Town Football Club, its players and supporters have been thanked in a letter for the support given during a Christmas appeal. 

In December, the Cobblers had helped Castle Hill URC, in the Eastern Synod, pack Christmas hampers at its foodbank and allowed the club to be used as a donation point. 

Expressing her thanks in the letter, the Revd Liz Adams, a huge Cobblers fan and Minister of Castle Hill URC, said: “I’d like to firstly express my sincere thanks to the football club for responding to the need of the local community and enabling a donation point at the club, freeing players up to come and see first-hand what we do and to help us with our hamper packing and school distribution, raising awareness of poverty that is on our doorsteps and highlighting the need through The Cobbler match programme. 

“Sincere thanks must also go to all the amazing Cobblers supporters, who gave so much during a time of uncertainty to people you didn’t even know. The amount of donations was incredible, and I thank each and every one who donated.” 

Liz ended her letter with a blessing for the club both on and off the pitch. 

Gareth Willsher, Head of Media at Northampton Town Football Club said the club was “delighted” to receive Liz’s letter.  

Rochdale schoolchildren help church plant hedge

Green-fingered children from St Michael’s Primary School have donated their time to help Bamford Chapel and Norden URC renovate its grounds.

Schoolchildren planting hawthorns/Rochdale Online.

The young volunteers helped plant hawthorn whips to form a new hedge at the church’s boundary with a lane.

The pupils also helped dig up the clumps of bluebell bulbs that were in the way of the hedge. These were carefully stored aware and will be replanted in the chapel’s carpark.

Sadly, just over over an hour into the gardening project, the heavens opened and heavy rain came down forcing the planting to be abandoned.

Linda Kerford, a member the church, said: “We did however get quite a lot done and the children really enjoyed themselves, even though they were a little muddy by the end.”

Descendants of church founder attend 175th anniversary 

Thatcham URC in the Wessex Synod recently celebrated its 175th anniversary of the opening of its Old British School.  

The school lies adjacent to the church and has been in use for church activities ever since it opened in 1847.  

To make the day special, descendants of John Barfield, founder of the church in 1804 and of the school, were invited to join in the church’s Harvest lunch. Nine members of the family attended, travelling from other parts of the country. 

Alan Mossman, Thatcham Church Secretary, said: “To make the day even more special, we decided to erect a heritage plaque on the wall of the Old British School and invite one of the Barfield family to unveil it. This and the day were truly memorable.” 

After the service, the gathering met outside to listen the Revd John Lee, Minister of the church, who spoke of the many past and current uses for the building which range from Sunday school, church meetings, dancing lessons and badminton to weekly toddler groups. A short talk on the history of the building followed.  

John Barfield, a solicitor, lived at The Priory in Church Lane. Besides being the founder of the Independent Chapel (now the URC), John responded to a nationwide appeal from the government for more schools by providing the land on which the Old British School now stands. He purchased three cottages in 1846 and had them demolished to make way for the new school.  

Most of the money for the school was raised by public subscription and Sarah Barfield, John’s wife, described as “a talented and energetic lady” was instrumental in raising much of it. It was recorded that she raised about £300 in Liverpool alone, worth about £39,000 in today’s prices. The Duke of Wellington gave her £5, worth £650 today.  

The school soon had 220 pupils on the roll and Sarah was its first manager, a post which she held for five years. Sadly, John died in 1851 and Sarah left Thatcham soon afterward.  

To mark the historic occasion in October, a heritage plaque was then unveiled on the building by Sebastian Barfield, a great-great-great grandson of John and Sarah. Everybody then enjoyed a harvest lunch provided by members of the church in the Old British School.