Weston Turville Union Chapel

The Early Years: 

Weston Turville Union Chapel was erected in the year 1839 on farmland in School Lane, given by Mr John Munger who farmed the nearby Manor Farm. He placed the building in the hands of ‘twelve good men and true’ as trustees. The chairman was his own brother Robert who farmed at Butlers Cross. It was recorded that in 1840, the Deeds were enrolled in Aylesbury’s Court of Chancery. There are no minutes to tell us of the first years of work, and sixteen years were to pass before fourteen members formed themselves into a church on 4th February 1856. 

The trust Deed laid down that the Chapel was for the use of Baptists and Independents. This was interpreted to mean that applicants for membership could state whether they wished to join by the way of baptism or by verbal confession of their faith. The Deeds also stated that if any time the work of the Chapel should cease, the proceeds of the sale of the property should be shared between the Baptist Union and the Congregational Union. This stipulation explains the term ‘Union Chapel’. Beyond this legal stipulation, the Congregationalists never seemed to have any official connection to the Chapel.

In 1856 the Chapel was in the Pastoral care of Reverend E Edwards. To accommodate the growing congregation, the Reverend Edwards arranged for the installation of the gallery which was added in 1856 and following requests from the congregation, a Baptistry was added which was opened on 29th April 1864. 

The Chapel House was built in 1864 and the resident minister had £10 of his annual stipend deducted whilst occupying the manse. Reverend J. Butcher was the first occupant when he took over from Rev. W. W. Edwards.[2] 

In 1865 the first elders of the Chapel were appointed; they were John Bunce and John Clark. 

Rev. F. Walker left his Tottenham chapel in October 1873 to become the Congregational pastor and moved into Chapel House. He was a strong advocate of temperance and the "Band of Hope". He was an opponent of Darwinism and wrote letters that were published in "Demand of Darwinism on Credulity" (by Francis Orpen Morris).[3] 

Rev. F. Walker left his Tottenham chapel in October 1873 to become the Congregational pastor and moved into Chapel House. He was a strong advocate of temperance and the "Band of Hope". He was an opponent of Darwinism and wrote letters that were published in "Demand of Darwinism on Credulity" (by Francis Orpen Morris)

1870 there is a Bible Class Benefit Society registered at the Union Chapel Vestry, though it was dissolved in 1881.[4]

A licence to conduct marriages was granted in 1881. 

The Pastor between 1882 and 1901 the church was served by the pastors Fletcher, Appleby, Geo Barnes and W.A Coventry.

In the early days of the Chapel, transport and communication was limited. Preachers without a horse were required to walk to Weston Turville and it was not unusual for a Preacher to walk from Quainton to deliver his sermon. By 1905 the Chapel required renovation at a cost of £18. It was decided to undertake the renovation work and to build a schoolroom which incorporated a Ministers Vestry, at the rear. A boundary wall and iron fence was also erected to surround the burial ground. The opening ceremony for the new schoolroom and building works was conducted by Mr John Munger, a descendant of the benefactor who originally gave the land for the Chapel to be built on. 

In 1906 the Baptist Union of Great Britain became Trustees by Resolution of the Members. 

Through the following 30 years the work of God at the Chapel never faltered and despite many difficulties, it survived through the efforts and commitment of a loyal group of dedicated members, including Mr G Bowker, who was Secretary for 30 years and an honorary Pastor; Miss Kempster who was the Sunday School Superintendent for 60 years and Miss Holt the Sunday School teacher and organist. 

Extract from The Bucks Herald 16 Jun 1939

"Weston Turville Centerary - Thanksgiving services at the Free Church"

There were good congregations at the Centenary Thanksgiving Services held in connection with the Weston Turville Free Church on Sunday and Monday. The preacher on Sunday was the Rev. Alfred Mathieson, a favourite in the district, and his able discourses were thoroughly enjoyed. The services were quite in keeping with the importance of the occasion, and there was a note of real thanksgiving throughout. The services were continued on Monday evening, when the congregation included friends from Aylesbury. Aston Clinton, Stoke Mandeville, Halton Camp, Chalkshire. Winchendon and other places in the district. The speakers were Group Captain Wiseman and Mr. Montague Goodman (Oxford) both of whom are well-known among Bucks Free Churches, and who invariably render acceptable and encouraging service.

The story of the work of the Free Church at Weston Turville (familiarly known for many years as the "Union" Church) is of necessity incomplete, for our forefathers in many cases failed to keep church records. However, Mr. A. G. Bowker, who is the recognised leader at the Weston Turville Church at the present time, in collaboration with Mr. H. T. Sharp, his colleague on the diaconate, were able to compile certain data of the history of the Church, and those who have been associated with its work for a long period of years are able to recall much that has happened in those later years.

There is a record that in November, 1838, Mr. John Munger purchased a field at Weston Turville and made a gift of a portion of it sufficiently large to provide a site for the erection of a chapel. Mr. John Munger was the father of the late Mr. Robert Munger, of Chalkshire, Mr. John Munger, of Manor Farm, Weston Turville, and of Miss Munger, of Weston Turville, who during their lifetime were regular members of the congregation and supported the Church in many ways, their families forming a welcome number of the congregation. Mr. John Munger's grandchildren and great grandchildren are among the present members of the congregation, Mr. Stanley Munger often serving the Church as organist. There is no record of contributors or early helpers in the Church, but following the gift of land a chapel was erected and completed by January, 1840, and an indenture was made between Mr. John Munger and twelve good men and true who formed the first body of trustees in connection with the property. A later record reveals that there were 14 members of the Church in 1856, under the pastoral care of Mr. W. Edwards, who had a son Mr. Eliezer Edwards, probably a silversmith, who presented the Church with a set of silver Communion plate, which is still in use. A chapel house was erected in 1864 for occupation by the minister.

Between the dates of 1882 and 1901 the Church was served by Pastors Fletcher, Appleby, Geo. Barnes and W. A. Coventry, since when supplies from Aylesbury, Wendover, Kimble, Aston Clinton, Chesham, London and other places have been engaged to conduct the Sunday services.

In 1909 a large and convenient Schoolroom was built on to the rear of the Chapel by the joint labours of Messrs. Edward Plater, Charles and Frank Rickard, and opened by Mr. Robert Munger, of Chalkshire.

Other workers whom many will call to mind were Messrs. Thomas Howe, Alfred Perry Scrivener, F. Cox and C. McIntosh, who all played their part in maintaining the Church. The oldest living member is Miss Kempster, who has completed half a century of service in the Church which has included many years of devoted service in the Sunday School. Like so many Christian Churches in the rural districts, there is a lack of young people, especially in the Sunday School, but the same indomitable spirit to carry on remains, all honour to those in Weston Turville who continue the good work.

In commemoration of the centenary the interior of the building has been redecorated and presents a pleasing and bright appearance. This work has been carried out at a cost of about £40 and the proceeds of the centenary were devoted to this outlay.