Links to other SPACE Churches

URC Heckmondwike
Longcauseway Church
Norristhorpe URC
Ravensthorpe with Hopton URC

URC Grove
Oxford Road,
BD19 4JR

A member of the Spen and Calder Enterprise

Worship: Sunday 10.30am

Minister: Revd Janine Atkinson

Church Secretary:

mob: 07375 614125


Our Sunday morning worship begins with a Family Service at 10.30 am, consisting of a short informal time of worship designed to meet the needs of young people and children (but not excluding the occasional youthful octogenarian). This is followed by Junior Church group work for the children and young people, and worship for the adults. Regularly on the second Sunday of each month, and on other special occasions, we celebrate Holy Communion.
We often celebrate important dates in the Christian calendar with special services such as our Harvest Festival and Christmas Festival services.

Thursday Circle (women’s meeting)  First Thursday monthly 7.30pm
Walking Group   Monthly walks arranged

Grove Community Library
Opening Hours:
Tuesday 10.00am-12.00noon
Wednesday 10.00am-12.00noon
Friday 10.00am-12.00noon

Short Walks       Second and Fourth Tuesdays at 2pm

Wednesday Coffee Morning  10.00 – 11.30am

Friday Coffee Area open 9.45-11.30am

Friday Bookchat  10.00am

Regular lunches 12.00noon

Come and join us for a game of Curling 2nd and 4th Wednesdays in the month.

If you know of anyone who would like to come and join us, perhaps a relative, neighbour or friend who has difficulty with transport it can be provided.

John Taylor of Red House in  Gomersal  built a brick chapel near his home c 1800. He was a Radical and Nonconformist, but not attached to any particular denomination. The Taylor family used the chapel as essentially their own
private place of worship, and John Taylor also preached there to his own band of followers. In the earlier 1800’ this chapel was also used occasionally by Congregationalists for  preachings. Congregationalists services were also sometimes held in the music gallery of Pollard Hall, the home of James Burnley, a deacon at Heckmondwike Upper Independent Church.
Grove Congregational Church was built in Ox ford Road. Gomersal in I 825—26 by members of the Congregational churches at Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike; the leader of this project was James Burnley. The church was opened in 1826 and the members who worshipped there became a separate congregation in the same year.
The Sunday School was built behind the church in about 1828. It was paid for entirely by James Burnlev.  It
was enlarged in 1842~. The church was enlarged in 1849 – 50 and again in 1876 and 1882.
Grove became a United Reformed Church in 1972 on the national amalgamation of the Congregational and Presbyterian churches
into one denomination. In about I 981 the three United Reformed Churches of Gomersal Grove, Cleckheaton Providence Place, and Norristhorpe joined together to form the Spenhorough Group of Churches, sharing a minister. Providence Place Church in Cleckheaton closed in 1991 and the members there then joined the church at Grove..
Information provided by Kirklees Archive Services KC948

Sunday 19

10.30am Café Church


Tuesday 21

10.00am-12.00noonGrove Community Library

11.30am  Elders Meeting


Wednesday 22

10.00-11.30am Coffee and Chat

10.00am-12.00noonGrove Community Library


Thursday 23


Wet Felt landscape making – Debbie Ball


Friday 24

9.45 am   Coffee Area

10.00am-12.00noon   Grove Community Library

10.00am    Knit and Natter



Sunday 26

10.30am  Morning Worship led by Revd Janine Atkinson

Followed by Church Meeting





The United Reformed Church has its origins in the Puritan tradition. The Puritans wanted to return to the purity of the original church – that of Jesus and His Disciples. The scripture ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:20) was the basis of their belief. The congregation was given primacy, so much so that a congregation could continue to exist without a minister. It was more than a religion, it was a way of life. The Independents as they were known originally, wanted people to be able to read so that they could read the Bible for themselves and discover God’s Word, so that everyone could discover what God had called them to do. The Word – and preaching – was all important. That is why in a nonconformist Church the pulpit is in the most prominent position.

The rise of Congregationalism as a distinct Christian tradition began in the latter part of the sixteenth century. Many of the leaders of these early separatist churches suffered considerable persecution. Independents wanted to educate all – male and female. Once educated people learned to think for themselves. The Protestant doctrine encouraged effort, industry and study.

In the 1640s many different religious groups were started. After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, these groups were suppressed. Nonconformists were excluded from the universities and had to set up their own dissenting academies. This division between gentlemen educated at grammar schools and universities and nonconformists whose education was more pious, utilitarian and less polished produced the inventors who made the Industrial Revolution in England.

In 1662 the Act of Uniformity forced adherence to the Church of England and meant no dissenting minister could hold a religious service without fine or imprisonment. It resulted in some 2,000 ministers being ejected from their livings in the Church of England because of their views. Among those evicted locally were Oliver Heywood of Coley, near Halifax. Oliver Heywood kept a diary, after his eviction from his church, he was excommunicated and then fined for not attending church. He then spent the rest of his life riding from place to place in Yorkshire and holding meetings whenever the opportunity occurred. He was caught preaching, fined and imprisoned at York Castle for one year. Also ejected were Richard Thorp of Hopton Hall, Josiah Holdsworth the first minister at Heckmondwike, and Joseph Dawson, educated at St John‘s College, Cambridge and ejected from Thornton Chapelry. During the reigns of Charles II (1660-1685) and James II (1685-1689), 60,000 people were persecuted for their Nonconformity to the Church of England.

All this drove Nonconformity underground. Meetings were held in remote places with sentinels posted to give warning. In Cleckheaton the meetings were held at Ye Closes, Egypt Farm, Cliff Lane and at Lower Blacup Farm; at Gomersal they were held at Brookhouses.

In 1672, a Declaration of Indulgence was granted by Charles II allowing all to worship freely. This was mainly to give Roman Catholics freedom of worship but also gave the same freedom to Independents and other nonconformists. Joseph Dawson now procured a licence for preaching at Ye Closes, where Oliver Heywood was a frequent visitor and “exhorter”. This Indulgence and a further one of 1675 were later withdrawn and the reign of James II, a Catholic, meant severe penalties for nonconformity. Despite fear of persecution the bands of Independents continued to meet secretly. Finally in 1689 under William and Mary’s reign, the Toleration Act was passed decreeing ’that Protestant Dissenters should be allowed to worship in their own way without fear of being molested.’ Ye Closes was registered as a place of worship in 1690 at Wetherby Quarter Sessions.

In 1710 John Dixon of Bradford purchased, on behalf of the Independents in Cleckheaton, land in Scott Yard off Bradford Road. The first Chapel, built of brick, was erected. This became known as The Red Chapel to distinguish it from the White Chapel. A second Red Chapel was erected in 1780 and extended either side in 1814-1815. Continuing the long tradition of nonconformism in the Spen Valley, and the need to teach reading, this new Chapel and its adherents started to give instruction in the Bible.

Robert Raikes is credited with starting the Sunday School organisation in 1780. In 1803 the Revd. Thornhill Kidd was installed as Minister of the Red Chapel and in 1805 he established the first Sunday School in Cleckheaton. State education did not begin until after Forster’s Education Act of 1870, (William Forster, Liberal M.P. for Bradford) when children up to the age of 10 were to receive an education, so to begin a school 65 years earlier was a great achievement. There was considerable opposition to this teaching of elementary subjects on the Sabbath and day of rest in the house of God. “Some persons thought the education of the children of the poor was a wild scheme, and would not last long”. When the Sunday School opened “70 children all looking healthy and clean” turned up to confound the sceptics. “They were formed into classes of 12 scholars each and were taught in the aisles of the Chapel”. Mr and Mrs Kidd were always in attendance. The Whitsuntide walk was introduced at this time. In 1819 such was the demand for education that new Sunday School buildings were erected. In 1840 two adult schools (male and female) were formed and district libraries. The books were eagerly sought after by both the pupils and their parents.

In 1831 a gathering of representatives of Independent Churches formed the Congregational Union of England of Wales by which they pledged to help one another in the service of Christ.

Back in 1825 the chapel at Grove, Gomersal was built and a “Sabbath school was also formed, and many young persons came forward as teachers in the school.” The Sunday School building was added later. The cost of the building at Gomersal was met by James Burnley, a local manufacturer. Services had been held occasionally at his home, Pollard Hall, but the Gomersal Congregationalists usually worshipped either at Cleckheaton or Heckmondwike, taking their dinner with them.

Further demand for education meant that in 1840 a branch of the Sunday School was started in Hightown in a room over two cottages, “where many children were very destitute of mental and moral instruction“. A building was later erected in 1850 in Hare Park Lane. In 1842 at the Annual Meeting it was reported that there were 717 scholars and 161 teachers in Cleckheaton and 161 scholars and 39 teachers at Hightown.

In 1857 the Red Chapel was found to be too small and a new building, Providence Place, was erected on land at the side of the Red Chapel, opening in 1859. Education continued, William Anderton, a local mill owner was a teacher for 50 years in the Young Men’s Class. This tradition continues with teachers today giving many years of service. There was also a social life with concerts and outings including train trips to the seaside. There was a club for mothers to learn how to look after their children. Members of the congregation formed a Local Board for the provision of water and sanitation, they were prominent in the Evening Institute and Mechanics Institute. All looking to the improvement of the individual. In 1870 a savings bank was started at Providence Place by the Yorkshire Penny Bank. The Churches continued to provide a way of life, a community, a place of belonging.

In 1876 a further chapel and Sunday School was opened in Westgate, Cleckheaton, so great was the demand for places and later in 1895 a Mission Chapel was opened at Drub. The Drub open-air Sunday School anniversary in Maizebrook Glen became a popular institution and “drew its five and six thousand hearers together for reverent song and devotion every year.”

On March 25 1905, the Sunday School Centenary was celebrated at Providence Place and in 1972, the congregation celebrated the Tercentenary, 300 years of witness in the Spen Valley with services and a walk to Ye Closes. Also in 1972 the United Reformed Church was established by the union of the Presbyterian Church and the Congregational Church.

Down throughout the years Congregationalists have played a significant part in history. Great preachers such as R W Dale and Joseph Parker, hymn writers such as Isaac Watts and Philip Doddridge and social reformers such as the founder of the NSPCC, Benjamin Waugh are among their number. Congregationalists also took part in the forming of The London Missionary Society which was responsible for the work of David Livingstone.

Teaching on a Sunday has continued for 200 years and is still ongoing in Spen Valley. The congregation from Cleckheaton moved to Gomersal in 1991 to join Grove United Reformed Church. Although secular education is given by the state, religious education continues, the emphasis now is to give children a sense of their place in the world, to support the community, to protect the environment, to support charities, to fight against injustice and to follow Jesus’ teaching, “to love one another as I have loved you”.

Souvenir Booklet Centenary Services of the Old Red Chapel and Providence Place Congregational Sunday School, Cleckheaton 1805-1905
Providence Place Sunday School Reports and Lists of Visitors and Lists of Tracts 1841-1850
Providence Place Congregational Church A Brief Review of the Growth of Independency in Cleckheaton 1672-1922
Congregationalism Website
Open University Course 17th Century England, a changing culture?

J M Scaife M.A.