Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: December 23, 2018
Webpage updated: December 23, 2018




Second only to the Baptist meeting-house in the Pig Market (Bedford Street), which was opened in 1651, the oldest of Plymouth's dissenting places of worship was the Batter Street Independent Chapel, erected in 1704.  The congregation, however, dated back to 1662, the Reverend George Hughes, the vicar of the Ancient Parish Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle, and Mr Thomas Martyn, his lecturer, were ejected from the Saint Andrew's vicarage.  Forty years later Mr Andrew Kinsman, the son of a grocer at Tavistock, set up business in Breton Side, Plymouth, and formed a small dissenting congregation.  He built the Tabernacle in the back garden of his shop.  Kinsman moved to Devonport in 1752.

When the Reverend Andrew Kinsman died in February 1793 there was a dispute between his eldest son and the congregation at the Tabernacle about the ownership of the building.  As a result the worshippers were prevented from using the building and dispersed to the other Chapels around the Three Towns.  In 1797 they came together once again and arranged to build the New Tabernacle in Norley Lane.  It became known as the Norley Congregational Chapel.  

Following the formation of the Congregational Union of England and Wales in 1831, the Courtenay Street Congregational Chapel was opened in 1848.  Formally this was known as the Union Congregational Chapel.

The Mount Street Congregational Mission Room, in Mount Street, Plymouth, was opened in 1858.

The Norley Chapel expanded to such an extent that in 1860 it was decided to erect a new spacious building and a site was acquired just below Drake's Place Reservoir on the road to Tavistock.  Opened on September 22nd 1864, this building was given the name of the Sherwell Congregational Chapel.

Plymouth was expanding to the east and in 1886 the Laira Congregational Chapel was opened in Old Laira Road.   The old building was replaced with a new one in 1935.

During the bombing of the Second World War, the Norley Congregational Chapel was destroyed.  In 1949 the War Damage Compensation received for that destruction enabled a new and larger chapel to be erected in 1955 at Plymstock, to be known as the Norley Memorial Congregational Chapel.

A site was purchased at Honicknowle by the Free Church Federal Council in 1953 upon which the Honicknowle Congregational Chapel was built.  It was opened in 1957.

In 1972 the Congregationalists joined forces with the Presbyterian Church of England and became the United Reformed Church.