Church Buildings

The Dean’s Yard Chapel

It was in 1773 that a company of Protestant Dissenters called Independents met in the large upper room of Gainsborough Old Hall for worship. In 1776 they applied for a Bishop’s licence to use ’the new building called Lady Huntingdon’s Chapel situate at the bottom of the yard belonging to John Dean on the Causeway Gainsborough as a place of worship of Almighty God.’ Dean’s Yard was actually situated off the Causeway, now called Bridge Street, the chapel’s south side facing Wembley Street.It is to the year 1776 that the present church can trace its unbroken origins.

The Caskgate Street Chapel

The congregation having outgrown the Dean’s Yard Chapel, in 1821 a new Chapel was erected in Caskgate Street which opened for worship on 11th April of that year. There the church continued to grow in numbers the Census of Religious Worship of 1851 reporting it as having congregations of 200 in the morning, 260 in the evening and 95 scholars.

In the late 19th century Gainsborough’s population expanded rapidly and the inadequate ancillary buildings hindered the growth of the church. In 1892, on the initiative of the Revd. Hugh S. Griffiths, leading Congregationalists in England and America agreed to raise a suitable church as a memorial to John Robinson.

The Memorial Church

A site was purchased from the Church of England authorities by Mr. John Heinle, a deacon of the church, who subsequently conveyed it to trustees as the site for the Memorial Church. It was the site of the Old Vicarage which was the birthplace of actor Dame Sybil Thorndyke. The foundation stone was laid by the Honourable F.T.Bayard, American Ambassador to the Court of St. James, on 29th June 1896.

A contemporary record the stone-laying reads: ‘Fully 1500-2000 were able to witness the proceedings in absolute comfort. A crowd of some thousands thronged the vicinity the majority of whom saw but little and heard scarcely anything but the music.’

The new church was opened for worship on 9th June 1897. In 1902 Tercentenary Celebrations were held celebrating the formation of the 1602 Separatist Church in Gainsborough and the Memorial Church was declared free of debt. The whole including the site cost £9000 of which £1000 was given by Americans.

On 5th October 1972 the church became a constituent part of the United Reformed Church (a union of Congregationalists and Presbyterians) which was inaugurated in London on that day after a service in Westminster Abbey.