Norwich chapel set to showcase Puritan heritage
Norwich’s Old Meeting House Congregational Church is making the most of the upcoming Heritage Open Days by staging more events than any other church in the city, hoping to attract 1,000 visitors to the chapel, established by the Puritans in the 17th century.
The Old Meeting House Congregational Church off Colegate, Norwich is hidden from the street and can only be found down a long side alley. However a series of talks, concerts, an art exhibition and the launch of their new booklet ‘Our Story’ during the upcoming Heritage Open Days is expected to boost visitors to the hidden chapel.
With a large, historical building and a small congregation, the chapel is keen to make more people aware of its services, activities, history and presence. So during the Heritage Open Days on Thursday, September 8 – Sunday, September 11 The Old Meeting House will be open to visitors daily from 9.45 am - 4.30 pm.
Pastor John Clements (pictured right) will be on hand to offer a warm welcome wearing the costume of a Puritan pastor highlighting the chapel’s 17th century foundation and the theme of many of the weekend’s talks. John has written a new 32 page booklet ‘Our Story’ about the history of The Old Meeting House that will be launched during the Heritage Open Days.
He said: “The focus of ‘Our Story’ is on ‘living stones’ rather than bricks and mortar but both are covered. The members of the chapel see the Old Meeting as being a deep spiritual well and are seeking to promote the unique Christian heritage given to us by the Puritans.”
The cover of the booklet (pictured above) has been designed by artist Madeline Holt, a member of the church who will be displaying her artwork in the chapel throughout the Heritage week.
On Thursday at 3pm and Saturday at 2pm a talk on ‘The History of the Congregational Church from 1580 - Mid 20th Century’ will be given by historian Ted Doe, a Norwich-based former Baptist minister.
On Friday, September 9 at 7.30pm Dr Andrew Hopper, Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Leicester University and a Curator of the National Civil War Museum in Newark, will speak on the ‘Enemies of the Puritans’.
The church will also launch a new series of monthly talks from guest speakers on Monday, September 12 at 7pm called ‘Light from Old Paths’. Professor John Coffey, Head of Modern History at Leicester University will lead the first with ‘Puritanism and Revolution: Norfolk Independents in the English Civil War, The Case of John and Thomas Goodwin’.
Each day during the Heritage Open Days at 11am a short talk on the history of the 17th century organ will be given by John Plunkett, who was responsible for its restoration. Various organists from Norfolk will be playing every day and on Sunday, September 11 at 2.30pm Anne Page will give a recital. Anne made her London debut at the Royal Festival Hall playing 20th century masterpieces, and an international recital career has followed.
On Thursday, September 8 at 7.30pm a concert will be performed by the Norwich Singers and on Saturday, September 10 at 7.30pm the Sine Nomine choir will perform a concert of sacred and secular music. A Songs of Praise style service will be held on Sunday, September 11 at 6.30pm with old traditional hymn-singing.
To find out more about these events please visit www.oldmeetinghousechurch.org.uk where you can also purchase a copy of ‘Our Story’ for £3 plus £1 postage and packing.