Free Church

The first service of the Free Church on the Suburb  was held on 16 May 1909. The construction of the Free Church building was started on 16 January 1911 with completion in October of that year. The membership was to be drawn from  all Non-conformist denominations. The Minister was not to be an Anglican from the Church of England or a Catholic. The Foundation Stone bore the words “”God is larger than the Creeds” and children laid bricks with their initials inscribed.

The Free Church was the first ecumenical church of this type in the country and in early years developed a range of activities for the community. From 1908 these included  educational work such as “scouting, guiding and young people’s clubs”. More recent  activities have been a drop-in meals service for a local school with  counselling on offer, facilities for different language groups, and flower and crafts festivals. The Church has provided professionally trained doula support for the youngest and oldest in the community. So the Church and Hall provide for both the Church’s own activities and as a  home for various community organisations, including a pre-school play group, youth and children’s activities, monthly concerts and major choral events, and a home for an orchestra. Church members assist in the running of Suburb and wider groups including sheltered housing for the elderly.   

The first minister was the Revd. Dr. James Henry Rushbrooke  MA (1910-1922) a Baptist who did much work in re-building the Baptist church in Rumania, Russia and elsewhere after the First World War.38281_ca_object_representations_media_18 The Revd. William Major Scott MA, Congregationalist (1922-1931), was followed by the Revd. Frank Hewitt Ballard MA, also a Congregationalist (1933-1951), and by the Revd. J Stanley Andrews MA, a Baptist (1952-1960). The Revd, Peter Barraclough MA a Congregationalist who became a United Reformed Church Minister was the next minister (1961-1992), succeeded by the Revd. Tony Spring MA (1994-2004) from the United Reformed Church, and then by the Revd. Dr Ian Tutton MA, a Baptist, from 2005 to the present day. The Ministers, wives and families have contributed much of value to the Church and community.

As well as the Church, a Grade One listed building designed by Lutyens, within its curtilage is the Manse (home for the Minister and family, and   Church Hall listed by LB Barnet .). The Hall was opened in 1925 by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Suburb was visited by the Queen on this occasion. The Hall in its early days was the subject  of a failed arson attempt by the Suffragettes, and in 1978 was badly damaged by fire in the middle of the night, the alarm being given by a neighbour’s dog.

While being closely associated with the Baptists and United Reformed Church, the Free Church is independent of all other organisations. The ethos of the Church is of toleration in a Christian religious setting. In early days the Church provided accommodation for Jewish meetings  planning for a synagogue, and later unanimously agreed through Church meeting the use of the Church  by the synagogue during refurbishment of their premises. The congregation and visitors are mixed by nationality and race and the Church welcomes all to activities and worship. The Church is twinned with the Eglise Reformee at Montrouge, Paris. A number of distinguished people have been members of the Free Church, including Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Mary Wilson.


Free Church
Additional Info
Featured Collections
Photo portrait of Rev Rushbrooke
A collection of the photographs taken from the Free Church's display for its own centenary, dividing up the years by each different minister.

Scouts Retreat 1923
Display of post cards in Free Church hall documenting the history of the church.

Related Collection
Wreath in the Free Church Memorial display for The Fallen in WW2
Introduction to the Free Church Memorial display for congregants who lost their lives during WW2
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