History of Northampton Spiritualist Church
There has been a group of Spiritualists in
since the 1880’s and there is reference to this in the first edition of
The Two Worlds published on 18th
November 1887. Under “Passing
Events” by Pilgrim were accounts
given of Church events throughout the country.
It stated: “The cause in the Midlands has never been as strong as in
but we notice that the wave of progress which has passed over the country has
influenced the work in Nottingham, Walsall,
. We rejoice to see that our
Northampton Friends have united to carry on the public movement.
There are many Spiritualists in the town.
We would advise them to see to it that they are not behindhand with their
neighbours in promulgating the Truth.”
That was obviously the embryonic
Church, but it was not until 27th
October 1917 that Northampton Spiritualist Church joined the Spiritualists’ National
Union. The Lyceum was begun in 1925.
Meetings were held in many rented rooms in
and Guildhall Road, also in Brunswick Place
and 65, Colwyn Road
from 30th April 1921.
During the war years,
meetings were held in Unity Hall, Market Square
at least until 1942. In 1946 they
were meeting in the Labour Rooms in
Charles Street. Later the meetings moved to
the Friends’ Meeting House in Wellington Street, where there were many happy
memories over the 12 years that rooms had been hired for services,
In 1962, Minister
Raymond Barden had a dream of a phoenix and, waking early one morning, had the
thought “A Church will arise”. He
contacted a friend, Douglas Barham, who was an estate agent to ask if there was
any land in the centre of town where there had been a fire as “fire”
had also been given to him. Nothing
was immediately available except properties at too high a price but one day he
received a call from Mr Barham involving much secrecy – “Could he be in St
Michael’s Road at 2.30pm where he would see a man he knew.”
Mr Barden went as requested and there found a Mr Archie Turvey, President
of the Mormon Church who he knew and who was manager of the local Insurance
Company with whom he had the Fire
Insurance of his business! It
transpired that the Mormons were buying a large house to be demolished and on
which they wished to build a new temple for the area.
They had applied for planning permission but did not wish news of this
transaction to become known in case the local orthodox Churches raised
objections. They currently occupied
89 St Michael’s Road and Mr Barden and Mr Turvey shook hands on an agreement
that the building would be sold at an acceptable price because they wanted it to
continue as a Church and not be used for industrial purposes.
The news eventually broke and the SNU became involved.
Permission to go ahead was obtained from Mr Tom Henwood, Minister
of the SNU. The price was £2,250. After all the
arrangements for finance had been made, the Church was officially opened on
Saturday 23rd October 1965 by Tom Henwood, Alderman W. Lewis JP,
Deputy Mayor, with Sally Ferguson taking the Special Evening Service.
This was a day to remember and spirit was thanked for the guidance given.
Whether it was known to
Mr Barden at the time is uncertain, but it is fascinating that at the 40th Birthday celebration of the Church in it's occupation of 89 St Michael's
Road in October 2005, Duncan Gascoine, President of the Spritualists'
National Union, produced a cutting from the Two
Worlds magazine of October 9th 1903, which had a short piece
called "Progress in Northampton". This showed a photograph of the same premises currently
occupied (see above) which had been purchased by
members of the Northampton Spiritualist Society for £360. It was
subsequently enlarged by building out into the garden, making it capable of
seating 130. The alteration to the front cost £45 (presumably a re-modelling of the front door and the construction of the door surround). It was
then said that it could seat over 200. As we can only seat about 80
comfortably, they must have been squashed up sitting on wooden forms! Then, no
doubt, one would step straight into the hall from the street, whereas at present
the Vestibule and Library take off approximately 12 feet from the original
remarkable that we should return to 89, St Michael's Road in October 1965 after
Spiritualists had worked so hard to establish their Church there some 60 odd
It is also worth noting that on 3rd May 1871, Mrs Emma
Hardinge ( later Hardinge-Britten) spoke at the Mechanics Institute in Northampton, her talk
entitled The Ministry of Angels. So Northampton Spiritualists go
back a long way!
The Church Committee hope to find larger, more convenient premises in the future, but there is no doubt that when that day finally
comes, 89 St Michael's Road will have served the cause of Spiritualism very well
great many years in Northampton.
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