Old and New Shoreham: Protestant nonconformity

Pages 171-172

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1, Bramber Rape (Southern Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

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Dissent was not strong in Shoreham before the 19th century. In 1672 John Jeffreys's house in New Shoreham was licensed for Presbyterian worship. (fn. 1) In 1676 only one nonconformist was recorded in Old Shoreham and none in New Shoreham, (fn. 2) but in that year the house of Joan Apps of New Shoreham was said to be a meeting-place for Quakers. (fn. 3) Although in 1690 George Whitmarsh, the Congregationalist, was preaching occasionally in the town (fn. 4) and although the Presbyterians registered houses for worship in 1694, 1714, and 1720, and the Quakers one in 1719, (fn. 5) there were said to be only three families of dissenters in Shoreham in 1724. (fn. 6)

The Baptists registered a house at New Shoreham for worship in 1785. (fn. 7) The congregation, which was not recorded in 1851 and may have lapsed, (fn. 8) met in various places before a new chapel was built in Western Road in 1870. That chapel was overcrowded and was replaced by another, apparently on the same site, in 1880. (fn. 9) Shoreham-by-Sea Baptist church, with a Sunday school beside it, a settled minister, and 250 sittings, had nearly 160 members in 1976. (fn. 10) The Providence Strict Baptist chapel, begun in 1866 in a house in Ship Street, was transferred in 1867 to a small stuccoed building in John Street (fn. 11) which was still in active use in 1976.

Shoreham Congregational church, of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, was originally founded in 1800 when an Independent chapel was registered. A house near by was also registered by Independents in 1811. (fn. 12) In 1851 the chapel was called the Protestant free church, and claimed to be episcopalian, having been enlarged in 1850 to take people who would no longer worship in the parish church because of the Puseyism there. With over 400 sittings it had attendances of 161 excluding children in the morning and 347 in the evening on Census Sunday. (fn. 13) The original chapel, in Church Street or Star Lane as it was sometimes called, was replaced in 1908 by a new one begun in 1903 at the junction of Buckingham and Gordon roads. The new chapel or church was still being built in 1921 and was enlarged in the 1950s. (fn. 14)

A Wesleyan chapel was built in New Road in 1829. On Census Sunday, 1851, when it had 200 sittings, the morning congregation numbered 87 excluding children and the evening one 103. (fn. 15) A subsidiary chapel in Brighton Road was registered from 1854 to 1866 and another, at an unknown address, from 1860 to 1876. The chapel in New Road was replaced in 1900 by the church in Brunswick Road, (fn. 16) a brick building in active use in 1976, in the Worthing circuit and having 275 sittings. (fn. 17)

The Primitive Methodists may have been one of the groups which established meeting-places in the town as it expanded in the second quarter of the 19th century. By 1851 they were using a room holding 60 people in a house in New Shoreham: the congregation, numbering 35 in the afternoon and 45 in the evening of Census Sunday, was served from Brighton. (fn. 18) In 1861 they registered various buildings for worship, including one in the Street, Old Shoreham, which remained registered until 1896. Another building registered in 1861 was probably the chapel in West Street which was later held under a deed of that year. (fn. 19) It appears to have been the stuccoed Gothic building of the earlier 19th century which housed the Shoreham Club in 1976. In 1879 the Primitive Methodists opened a chapel in High Street, east of the town hall, which closed shortly before 1935. (fn. 20)

Groups of unknown denominations looking towards Brighton registered a room for worship in 1826, a house in Church Street in 1849, and a house in East Street in 1850. (fn. 21) Part of a house in Middle Street, registered in 1826, may have been the origin of the Middle Street Hall, registered from 1875 until 1896. (fn. 22) The Brethren were meeting in 1905 in the town hall, (fn. 23) where a group recorded in 1841 was worshipping in 1842; (fn. 24) from 1920 to 1925 or earlier they used a hall in Middle Street, (fn. 25) perhaps the Middle Street Hall, and they are not recorded thereafter.

The Latter Day Saints established a meeting in White Lion (later West) Street in 1851, when on Census Sunday they had a congregation of 18 at both afternoon and evening service, with a minister from Brighton. (fn. 26) Nothing later has been found about them. The Salvation Army held meetings in the corn stores in West Street, perhaps the stuccoed chapel there, from 1882 until 1896 or earlier. In 1901 they registered the former Wesleyan chapel in New Road as their barracks, but had surrendered it by 1921. (fn. 27) The National Spiritualist Church used a building in Southdown Road in 1937, moved in 1938 to High Street, and in 1948 to Windlesham Gardens, (fn. 28) where it remained in 1976.


  • 1. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1672, 62, 64.
  • 2. S.A.C. xlv. 145.
  • 3. S.A.C. lv. 86-7.
  • 4. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 527.
  • 5. G.R.O. Worship Returns, Lewes archdeac. nos. 17, 52, 59, 62.
  • 6. S.A.C. xxxv. 192.
  • 7. G.R.O. Worship Returns, Lewes archdeac. no. 146.
  • 8. Not in H.O. 129/86/1/10. The chapel or ch. was later said to have been founded in 1870.
  • 9. Cheal, Shoreham, 205; G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 20930, 25256; F. Buffard, Kent and Suss. Baptist Assocs [1963], 105; date on bldg.
  • 10. Baptist Union Dir. (1975-6).
  • 11. R.F. Chambers, Strict Bapt. Chaps. of Eng. ii. 37; G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 18142; cf. Cheal, Shoreham, 205.
  • 12. G.R.O. Worship Returns, Lewes archdeac. nos. 208, 307.
  • 13. H.O. 129/86/1/10/20.
  • 14. G.R.O. Worship Reg. 43081, 63163; dates on bldgs.; cf. Cheal, Shoreham, 205.
  • 15. H.O. 129/86/1/10/13.
  • 16. G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 4874, 11134, 37655; dates on bldg.
  • 17. Cf. Methodist Church Dept. for Chapel Affairs, Statistical Returns, 1970, 23.
  • 18. H.O. 129/86/1/10/19.
  • 19. Char. Digest Suss. H.C. 77, pp. 30-1 (1894), lxiii.
  • 20. G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 13766, 14050, 14633, 24923; Cheal, Shoreham, 205; cf. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Suss. LXV. 9 (1931 edn.).
  • 21. G.R.O. Worship Returns, Lewes archdeac. nos. 490, 685, 692 (the last two certified by Wm. Hill).
  • 22. Ibid. no. 482; Worship Reg. no. 22305.
  • 23. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1905), 561.
  • 24. G.R.O. Worship Returns, Lewes archdeac. nos. 630, 637.
  • 25. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 47765.
  • 26. H.O. 129/86/1/10/21.
  • 27. G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 26702, 38480; cf. Cheal, Shoreham, 206.
  • 28. G.R.O. Worship Reg. nos. 57372, 57913, 62080, 64903.