There has been a Christian presence on our site for over 230 years and on this page you will find a detailed history of our church and its predecessors. All of the information on this page has been provided by Stephen Gilburt, Christ Church Secretary.

Zion Chapel

Matthias Peter Dupont, a retired innkeeper from Aldersgate in the City of London, opened his home in Chase Side for worship in 1778. At this time there were only two other places of worship in the Enfield Town area - St Andrew's Parish Church and Baker Street Chapel.

Zion Chapel was opened opposite Matthias Dupont's house in 1780. Among the costs of the opening service were a Bible, Watts' "Psalms and Hymns" and the expenses of a coach and lodgings at the George Inn for the preachers. Zion was a plain rectangular building with high backed pews, a curtained-off pew for the minister and a narrow gallery. It was originally lit by a chandelier which the attendant would pull down during evening service to snuff the candles. Later Zion was the first church in Enfield to adopt gas lighting. Account books showed that the most frequent entries for expenses were rum, brandy and wine 'for vestry use' - perhaps the ministers needed alcohol to sustain them through the long sermons! The congregation stood for the reading of the Church of England prayers but sat down to sing the hymns. Singing was accompanied by a small band led by a bass-viol player, before an organ, played by the ministers' wife, was installed and a choir started. At the back of the chapel was a small school room where the Sunday School Superintendent ruled through the cane, and spelling books were used more than the Bible as few of the children had learned to read.

Ministers of Zion and Chase Side Chapels

In the days before cars many walked long distances to church, although the more wealthy would come by carriage and a horse drawn chaise was provided for the minister. The first minister, Mr Whitefoot, was ordained in 1781. His successor John Ryland had difficulty walking and one Sunday when his coach failed to appear and his servant was unable to catch his pony, the minister ended up being pushed through Enfield Town to church in a wheel barrow. In 1791 a proposal to appoint a Mr Chalmers caused a split in the congregation as some thought he was a bigamist! This was later discovered to be true, but not before Chase Side Chapel (otherwise known as The Independent Chapel, Chase Side) had been built on the adjoining site (where the car park is now). However, following the discovery of structural problems Chase Side Chapel had to be rebuilt in 1830.

Gaps in the ministry at Zion Chapel were provided by visiting preachers including students from Cheshunt College. It was one of these, John Stribling, who became minister in 1832. However by 1871 his health was failing and the two churches voted to unite under the leadership of Rev Storer Toms, who had been minister of Chase Side Chapel since 1865. Zion Chapel was demolished and the present Christ Church opened on its site in 1875.

Chase Side and Zion Chapels in the mid 19th Century
Chase Side and Zion Chapels in the mid 19th Century.

Rev Storer Toms and the building of Christ Church

Christ Church is a grade II listed building, built in the gothic style, and faced with Kentish Ragstone outside and Bath stone inside. Storer Toms climbed the spire to place the weather vane at its top. The stone relief of the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples on the apse wall is a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting. Children from the congregation brought locally grown flowers to the architect and he incorporated them in the designs for the capitals at the top of the columns.

Memorial stained glass windows represent Christ the Saviour and the Good Shepherd, the four gospel writers, Peter and Paul, three first century Christian Deacons and the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.

The former Chase Side Chapel was converted to become the Lecture Hall and was used by the Sunday School and later the Boys' Brigade. In 1885 an extension was added to the church providing more toilets and a larger Deacons' vestry together with a church parlour, ladies' vestry and a kitchen. The minister and his family moved into a newly built manse behind the church in 1887.

Mission in Lancaster Road

Following population growth in the Lancaster Road area, open air meetings were started and in 1885 Christ Church Mission was opened, followed by Armfield Road Halls in 1909. Dr J Ridge, a Deacon at Christ Church, was active in the running of the mission, as well as working to improve public health in Enfield. What is now Lancaster Road URC became independent from Christ Church in 1917.

Support for children's education in Enfield

Nonconformists actively supported the British School (now the Moon Under Water) which was established in 1838. The first headmaster was Henry Wakely, Deacon and Sunday School Superintendent at Zion Chapel. Between 1870 and 1894 Storer Toms and Deacon George Spicer campaigned, against Anglican opposition, to establish the Enfield School Board. In 1901 the school board opened a replacement school in Trinity Street for 1100 children. Christ Church acquired the former school, which became known as the British Hall and it was used for children's and youth activities.

Rev Ebenezer Rees

Following the retirement of Storer Toms, Rev Dr John James, a talented artist, became minister in 1906. He was succeeded by Rev Ebenezer Rees, who served for 30 years from 1916 to 1946 and as minister emeritus until his death in 1966. Members from Christ Church served in both world wars and during the First World War were active on the local War Refugees Committee caring mainly for the Roman Catholic Belgian refugees. Ebenezer Rees helped to establish the Enfield Preservation Society in 1936, later becoming its president and also chairman of the governors of Enfield Grammar School. Christ Church has had a long musical tradition and in 1937 at the instigation of Vincent Evans, the church organist and choirmaster, the Young People's Society of Christ Church was established with choral, dramatic, orchestral and social sections. From the choral section developed the Christ Church (now Enfield) Choral Society. Following the sale of the British Hall, the present Church Hall was built next to the church in 1939.

Rev Leonard Towers

In 1947 Rev Leonard Towers became minister and moved into a manse in Waverley Road, the previous manse having been let as a nurses' home. His wife Alice started the Friendship Club, initially for young mothers for whom a crèche was also provided. In 1947 the present monthly newsletter was started. In 1948 Leonard Towers was influential in setting up Little Church for younger children attending the morning service. The Christian Family was a particular theme of this ministry. In 1960 Little Church was united with the afternoon Sunday School to form the Junior Church and Will Hummerstone became its first Warden. For many years children and their teachers took part in the annual Scripture Examination organised by the Sunday School Union. Following the death of Ebenezer Rees, Leonard Towers was made minister emeritus.

Christ Church as seen in 1959
Christ Church as seen in 1959. The Lecture Hall, formerly Chase Side Chapel, which was demolished four years later, is just out of the picture to the left. On the right is the Church Hall built in 1939.

Rev Vivian Buddle

Rev Vivian Buddle was inducted in 1960 and during his ministry he encouraged a number of young people in the church to become members. In 1963, following the discovery of serious structural problems, the Lecture Hall was demolished and in 1964, following a fundraising campaign, the main church roof was replaced and the spire was repaired. In 1965 Vivian Buddle left Christ Church to become a religious knowledge teacher.

Rev Kenneth Faulkner

In 1966 Rev Kenneth Faulkner came to Christ Church with his wife and children, who were to play an active role in the life of the church, particularly in the choir. Later in 1966 the Congregational Union of England and Wales was replaced by the Congregational Church. Having failed to obtain the required majority in 1971, in 1973 Christ Church joined the United Reformed Church (which was formed from a union of the former Congregational and Presbyterian Churches). In 1975 Christ Church celebrated its centenary with a re-enactment of the original opening, an exhibition on its history organised by Donald Potter and a dinner and social evening.

Rev Roy Martin

Following the departure of Kenneth Faulkner, Rev Roy Martin became the minister in 1980. He brought to Christ Church his experience of working for many years in the Church of South India and his pastoral care was particularly appreciated. Following Leonard Towers' death Roy Martin was appointed minister emeritus.

Rev Adrian Bulley

In 1988 Rev Adrian Bulley (who was later to become moderator of Wessex province of the URC) accepted a call to the pastorate of Christ Church and moved with his family into the newly acquired manse in Churchbury Lane. Several younger families became actively involved in the life of the church and groups for mothers and toddlers and making banners were set up. In 1991 Christine Willis was ordained as a non-stipendiary minister and served as associate minister at Christ Church until 1993.

Interim Ministry

Following Adrian Bulley's departure in 1993, Christ Church received valuable ministerial leadership from several interim moderators and three short term interim ministers who were able to bring to Christ Church the benefit of their experiences in other countries - Rev Joe Pratt (1994-1996), who had previously served in the Church of South India, Rev Egland Graham (1999-2001), who came originally from Jamaica, and Rev Alan Abraham (2002-2003) from USA, who Christ Church shared with Lancaster Road and Ponders End URCs. In 1995 the Church Parlour and Ladies Vestry were demolished to provide access to the care home built on the site of the former manse behind the church.

Rev David Atkinson

From 2004 until 2013 Rev David Atkinson was the minister of Christ Church and Lancaster Road URCs, living in the Christ Church Manse and normally conducting the morning Communion and Family Parade Services at each church. The Worship Group has produced many new ideas which they incorporate into the service they conduct each month. During Rev David Atkinson's ministry, other morning services were led by local lay preachers and retired ministers. Special services are held at the church festivals and recent popular innovations have included a Christingle service and Chase Side School Carol Concert held since the minister established links with the school.

Rev Henriette Wentink

Following Rev David Atkinson's retirement in November 2013, Bush Hill Park, Christ Church and Lancaster Road URCs came together to form the North Enfield Group of URCs and began the process of looking for a shared minister. Rev Henriette Wentink, a newly-ordained URC minister, became minister of the three churches in July 2015. Under Henriette's leadership various new initiatives were introduced, including a Saturday morning Bible study and prayer group called the Breakfast Club. In June 2017, Henriette moved away from Enfield to become minister of Trinity URC in Plymouth.

Christ Church at present

While we are without a minister, services are conducted by local lay preachers, retired ministers and members of the church. A variety of other events also continue to be held as part of our outreach in the local community.

Organisations and activities

The Church Hall originally had a stage and productions have included many amusing musical works by Will Kinlock such as "The Battered (sic) Bride" performed by members of the choir, and plays and sketches by adults and young people including members of the uniformed organisations. Musicals performed by young people, have included "Greater than Gold", "A Grain of Mustard Seed" and "Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". The hall has also been used for social occasions and bazaars (sometimes with participants in period costume) and has been regularly used by sporting groups such as the Badminton Club, Friendship Club, Sunday School, Little Church, Junior Church and Pilots, youth clubs and uniformed youth organisations - Boys' Brigade, Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers. When the hall is not required for church related activities, lettings provide a useful source of income as well as serving the community.

Relations with other churches

Proposals for unions with St Paul's and later Trinity Churches, as well as plans for closer links between Methodist and United Reformed Churches in Enfield and Edmonton did not come to fruition, however in recent years members also take part in services with other Christians in the North West Enfield Group of Churches. Christ Church is also a part of the North Enfield Group of URCs with Lancaster Road and Bush Hill Park URCs, with whom we are looking to appoint a shared minister.

Christian outreach

Christian outreach has included Edith Mills and Sylvia Coombs serving in India and the Solomon Islands and Christ Church financially supports Christian Aid, Shanthigramam home in India, Goldie College in the Solomon Islands, The Bible Society, Crisis and Cheviots home in Enfield.

References and further information

For more information see:

History of Christ Church, Enfield by J Stribling (1917)
History of Christ Church, Enfield by Fred J Gould and John R Day (1975)
We the Music Makers (1988) (celebrating 50 years of Christ Church/Enfield Choral Society)

Minister of Zion Chapel

1781 to 1788 - W Whitefoot
1788 to ???? - John Ryland
1791 to 1803 - Isaac Nicholson
1805 to 1813 - W Whitefoot
1816 to 1824 - William MacDonald
1825 to 1826 - Thomas Thorn
1826 to 1831 - John James
1832 to 1871 - John Stribling

Gaps in the ministry were normally covered by visiting preachers. For example, students of Cheshunt College officiated in the pulpit between 1831 and 1832.

Ministers of Chase Side Chapel (otherwise known as The Independent Chapel, Chase Side)

1792 to 1793 - James Chalmers
1794 to 1827 - William Thomas
1828 to 1848 - S A Davis
1849 to 1854 - George Wilkinson
1855 to 1857 - Dr Tidman
1858 to 1859 - W Martin
1860 to 1864 - W Slater
1865 to 1871 - Henry Storer Toms

The Zion Chapel and Chase Side Chapel congregations merged in 1871 and Christ Church opened in 1875.

Ministers of Christ Church United Reformed Church (formerly Christ Church Congregational Church)

1871 to 1905 - Henry Storer Toms
1906 to 1913 - John George James
1916 to 1946 - Ebenezer Rees (appointed minister emeritus in 1949)
1947 to 1960 - Leonard T Towers (appointed minister emeritus in 1967)
1960 to 1965 - R Vivian Buddle
1966 to 1979 - Kenneth F Faulkner
1980 to 1987 - Roy Martin (appointed minister emeritus in 1985)
1988 to 1993 - Adrian J Bulley
1991 to 1993 - Christine Willis (associate minister)
1994 to 1996 - Joe Pratt (interim minister)
1999 to 2001 - Egland Graham (interim minister)
2002 to 2003 - Alan Abraham (interim minister)
2004 to 2013 - David Atkinson
2015 to 2017 - Henriette Wentink