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170th Anniversary – Welcome to our new Website!

Then known as Wycliffe Chapel, the opening ceremony took place on Wednesday 17th April 1850. 170 years on, we find ourselves in challenging times, but thankfully still able to mark the occasion – albeit virtually!

Thanks to National Lottery players this new website has been funded as part of our restoration programme so we can share new research with you, and keep you updated in our efforts to be a busy centre for worship, and a valuable local community resource.


Of course, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, some aspects are on hold, but work is continuing behind the scenes. Two planning conditions need clearing before we can welcome large numbers of the public into the building – we have a quote for one of these, and partial funding, and are waiting for further information and a quote to clear the other.

We are also working with the fabulous Paramount Boxing Club to obtain a lease so they can, with help from Sport England, move back permanently. The lease is a nightmare of red tape, but we are both keen to fight our way through it and get there in the end!

Thanks to the Heatons Heritage Society we have a blue plaque being produced to be erected on the Wellington Road North left-hand side entrance (near the new accessible lift). So when ‘normal’ life resumes, we’ll definitely be having a ‘do’ for the unveiling – and you’re all invited!

Anniversary Virtual Celebration

Newspaper advert for the opening of Wycliffe Congregational Chapel in 1850
Advert in the Stockport Mercury April 12th 1850
Ticket for the 1944 Anniversary Birthday Party
Original ticket for the 1944 Anniversary Party

The first service took place at 11 am on 17th April 1850, conducted by the Rev Thomas Raffles D.D. L.L.D. from Liverpool – a leading Congregational Minister of the time. See the History Page for full details of the founding of the Chapel. Friday 17th April 2020 is our 170th Anniversary. Please join us for a brief commemoration…

Rev Raffles preached at the service in 1850 on John chapter 12 verses 27 & 28

Now is my soul troubled, and what

shall I say? Father, save me from this hour:

but for this cause came I unto this hour.

Father, glorify thy name. Then came

there a voice from heaven, saying, I have

both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

John Chapter 12 verses 27 & 28

Jesus was aware of the suffering as a man he must undergo to redeem the world, but would not shrink from it, as it was the reason His Father sent Him. God’s name would be glorified. It took just over a year from the decision to build a new Chapel to Wycliffe opening, filling a gap in Congregational provision in the area, and from its prominent position on Wellington Road North, glorifying God indeed.

There have been many challenges in the life of Wycliffe, from deaths of significant members, financial hardship, war – including damage from a bomb in World War Two. Even after the bomb damage, worship continued in the school building next door, but the terrible Coronavirus Pandemic ravaging the world at the moment has closed all places of worship. However, a fantastic effort has been made by all faiths to deliver streamed services/prayers and other resources for people to continue to glorify God at home – see our links page to find such resources.

A white taper lights a church candle
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation;
continuing instant in prayer;
Romans 12:12

When life returns to some semblance of normal, we look forward to welcoming worshippers and the local community back into Wycliffe to begin a new phase of hope in the future following the Heritage Fund project works.

It is highly likely that the following hymn was sung at that first service – ‘Just as I am’. It was a favourite of Alderman Mr John Hampson, who put up the lion’s share of funds for the building, and encouraged people to follow Rev Thornton to this new cause. He sadly died nine years after the opening, aged just 42. He is remembered in the beautiful East Window, and his gravestone records that the first stanza of this hymn was “his dying testimony”.

Two panels in the stained glass window with verses from Just as I am and John Hampson's date of death
Memorial window after restoration funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Just as I am – without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – though toss’d about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

John Hampson’s Gravestone in Stockport Borough Cemetery

Just as I am – Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

The prayer of Thanksgiving would also have been suitable for the opening of Chapel, as it is now, as we are thankful for our successful Heritage Fund restoration project, the prospective return of Paramount Boxing Club, and the possibility of future which was uncertain not so long ago.

In a wider sense, we also want to thank key workers in healthcare and all the other essential occupations which are saving lives, helping people and keeping this country running throughout the pandemic.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Celebrations after the service

Following the service in the new Chapel, everyone moved into what were the schoolrooms downstairs for “a cold collation…provided after the Morning Service, at which James Kershaw, Esq. M.P. will preside”[M.P. for Stockport from 1847 – 1864]

The cold collation, or buffet, was provided by Mr. P. Beard of the Hope Inn – still there on Wellington Road North. There were plenty of speeches, thanks and toasts to all supporters.

So in our virtual celebration, we raise our glasses of non-alcoholic wine to propose a toast of thanks to all who have supported us in the very trying last few years, and who continue to offer help and show an interest in Wycliffe Congregational Church! We’re off to sample the virtual cold collation now…

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