Archives of the Congregational Union of England and Wales and of the Congregational Church in England and Wales
Until 1831, the Congregational/Independent churches had no central organization, though a number of county unions had been formed. In 1831 the Congregational Union of England and Wales was founded, remaining in existence until its constituent churches formed themselves into the Congregational Church in England and Wales in 1966. At this point a number of churches broke away to form the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches. In 1972 the C.C.E.W. united with the Presbyterian Church in England and Wales to form the United Reformed Church. Those churches who preferred to continue in the Congregational tradition then formed themselves into the Congregational Federation, and a small number of other churches remained unaffiliated to any of the new groupings.
The Archives are the records of the central institutions of the Congregational Union/ Congregational Church, 1831-1972.
THEY DO NOT INCLUDE THE CHURCH BOOKS OR REGISTERS OF INDIVIDUAL CHURCHES.
The only exceptions to this rule involve a handful of London churches, as follows:
Minutes of Church Meetings, etc.
- Marlborough Chapel, Old Kent Road, 1826-1982
- Trinity Chapel, Phillip Street, Kingsland Road, 1838-75
Register of Baptisms
- Trevor Congregational Church, Brompton, 1841-1902
- East Finchley Congregational Church, 1949-83
Register of Marriages
- Congregational Church, Middleton Road, Dalston, 1848-1909, 1949
(Those who need to find the church registers of any other churches are advised to apply to the original church or its successor, or else to the local record office. Further information on this matter can be found on the website of Dr Williams’s Library.)
Nor do the Archives include the records of most of the county unions (except for a number of printed reports, 1920-72). The main exceptionis the Kent Union Society, 1802-1931, whose minutes and other records are present. And a partial exception is the London County Union, various documents associated with which, 1924-72, are also present.
RG4 series – form of words needed.
The Archives mainly consist of the minute books of the various committees which operated as part of the Congregational Union, both permanent standing committees and temporary ones designed to deal with particular problems or crises. There are also the records of the General Council and Annual Assemblies (May and Autumn), and the preparatory work of the Nomination and Programme Committees.
The “big” committees include the General Purposes Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Legal Committee. Numerous other committees deal with the work of the ordained ministry (including their education, maintenance and pensions); lay ministry; men’s and women’s groups; home and foreign missions; building, trusteeship, and insurance; education, youth work, and social problems; literature, including the Year Book, periodicals and the Independent Press; doctrine and liturgy; the compilation of new hymn books; church history and commemorations; church government and bureaucracy; ecumenism; and the creation of the U.R.C.
In addition there are the books of various bodies which were originally autonomous but were afterwards taken under the Union’s wing, such as the Home Missionary Society 1819-79 (continued as the Congregational Church Aid and Home Missionary Society 1878-1924), and the English Congregational Chapel Building Society 1853-1932 (continued as the Church Building Committee 1933-64), as well as of organizations which were always independent but with a strong relevance to the work of the Union, such as the Congregational Insurance Company 1892-1974.
Access to those parts of the Archives which are of a personal nature is restricted.
A brief handlist of the Archives may be consulted.