The Congregational Chapel

Congregational Church on Dereham Road, 1920

A Congregational Society was formed in Watton early in 1818, when according to a record in the Church Book to the effect "that it had pleased God in His mercy to inspire the heart of His servant, the Rev. Richard Fairbrother of Dereham, with a desire to relieve the spiritual destitution of the in­ habitants of Watton and that upon inquiry he found five persons desirous of receiving, and aiding his benevolent design".

With the assistance of a neighbouring minister they started the movement by meeting for Devine worship in a cottage at Neaton where they continued until October 1818, From then until May 1819 Mr. C, Servier took over the ministry. Then with the addition of more members, a new Chapel was built at Neaton and was opened on the 3rd September 1819 when the Revs. Dewhirst of Bury St. Ed­ munds, J. Alexander and Hall, both of Norwich, and A. Creak of Yarmouth, took part in the services. This building served the Congregation Church under various ministers for the next thirty seven years. Then in 1855, during the Ministry of Rev. Alfred Griffin a site nearer the town centre was obtained and it was decided to build a new Church. No time was lost in getting the project under way and sur­prising the foundation stone was laid by the Rev. John Alexander on April 3rd 1856. More surpris­ingly, this Gothic style church, which is still in use and stands on the Dereham Road, must have been built in record time as it is reported to have been opened by the above much respected Minister of the Gospel, with a special service on the 10th of August the same year. The walls are of black flint, with white brick dressings and the building extends to 48 feet in length and 27 feet in width. A school room was added at the rear of the church in 1862 and in 1871 a gallery was installed in the church, giving it accommodation for 300 persons.

Originally there was a turret at the south-west corner, but probably due to the high cost of maintenance it became dangerous and the upper half was removed about 25 years ago. When the new church came into use, the original one at Neaton was sold and converted into a private residence, later to become known as "Loch House", as it still is to-day. An interesting feature of the house is that the spiral staircase is believed to have been erected on the spot where the chapel pulpit

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