The History of Copse Road Meeting House

The early years of the nineteenth century were times of spiritual unrest in many quarters, and especially in the Church of England. The 1830’s saw the rise of the ‘Oxford Movement’ with its emphasis on restoration of High Church and Roman Catholic teaching. This greatly disturbed many Evangelical clergymen, among them, John Methuen, Rector of Corsham in Wiltshire. He resigned from the Church of England and came to lodge in Copse Road, Clevedon in 1832. Many people flocked to his lodging house to hear his expositions of Scripture, until advanced age forced him to return to his native Wiltshire. His ‘flock’ felt bereft – like sheep without a shepherd.

  • the famous George Müller heard of their need and urged them to call John Victor as their pastor
  • soon after his arrival in Clevedon in 1851 the first part of our chapel was built
  • the building was lengthened in 1855, and further extended by adding the transept in 1865
  • the school hall was erected in 1877
  • after forty years John Victor retired and was followed by Dr. David Anderson-Berry
  • the next pastor was Waiter Brealey
  • the next pastor was James Sprunt
  • Walter Clarke was invited to care for the flock in 1926
  • the next pastor was Raymond Lawrence
  • he was succeeded by Basil Howlett in 1983
  • after a period without a pastor, Trevor Smetham was called to the pastorate until 2002
  • Ian Hilder was then pastor from 2003 until 2015

Over the years, the church has known many blessings and not a few trials. But we praise God for all His goodness and mercy to the church from the time of its inception until the present. We thank Him that the Word of God has been faithfully preached within these walls. We realise that to us is entrusted the responsibility of maintaining a faithful witness, and of preaching the Gospel of redeeming grace to lost sinners. Our trust is in the same gracious, powerful Lord to guard, guide and bless us in the future.

Read the full history