Catalogue ReferenceD/N40
TitleRecords of Theale Congregational (later United Reformed) Church
Description[For more information about the records in this collection please contact Berkshire Record Office.]


CHURCH ADMINISTRATION : church book, 1844-1865; minutes of church meetings, 1844-1853, 1935-2000; minutes of annual church meetings, 1934-1978, 1993-1998.

DEACONS : minutes, 1934-1972.

ELDERS : minutes, 1977-2000.

COMMITTEES : site committee minutes, 1905-1912; building fund committee minutes, 1912; building committee minutes, 1912-1913; ladies' committee minutes, 1923-1978.

TREASURER : cash accounts, 1851-1865; general accounts, 1910-1991; accounts of centenary industrial exhibition and fair, 1922.

PROPERTY RECORDS : architects' certificates re new church, 1913; bill and receipt for carpentry work, 1921-1922; correspondence re vesting church in Congregational Union and registering for worship and marriages, 1914; notes on organ, 1979.

CHURCH ORGANISATIONS : Sunday School register, 1912-1938, 1956-1957; Young Peoples (later Church) Fellowship minutes, 1936-1978; Women's Own minutes, 1937-1964, 1971-1972.

REGISTRATION AND MEMBERSHIP : registers of baptisms, 1846-1865, 1922-1982; marriages 1924-1987; burials, 1922-1925, 1931-1932, 1938-1945, 1958-1975, 1995-1996; rolls of church members, 1844-1853, 1899-1975.

OTHER BODIES : correspondence and papers re dispute whether Theale was branch of Castle Street Congregational Church, Reading, 1900-1902.

MISCELLANEOUS : fund raising calendar, 1913; photograph of church interior at Harvest, n.d. [1920s?]; notes on history of church, c.1963-1993.
RepositoryBerkshire Record Office (code: GB 005)
Extent23 vols, 8 bdls, 4 docs
Admin HistoryCongregational services were first held in Theale under the auspices of the Reading Evangelical Society, in a tenement licenced for worship in 1797. They later recommenced in the house of butcher John Cumber (whose family remained involved with the church until its closure in the 1990s), with the support of the Revd James Sherman (minister of Castle Street Congregational Church, Reading, 1821-1836). A small chapel was built in Mr Cumber's garden in 1832, when the trust deed linked the church to the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion. A number of the trustees were members at Castle Street, also a member of the Connexion at this time.

The church was formally constituted in 1844 with eleven members (three men and eight women). Members mostly came from Theale, but some lived in Sulhamstead, Englefield and Tilehurst. The first meeting was chaired by Mr Woolley, minister at Pangbourne.

The church was in severe decline, c.1887-1897, but was reconstituted in 1899 when a number of nonconformist families settled in the area. In 1900 a dispute arose with Castle Street Church, who claimed Theale as a branch church, despite not having any financial or jurisdictional involvement.

A full time minister was first appointed in 1904. In the 1930s-1940s the minister was shared with Bucklebury Congregational Church. In 1961 a joint pastorate was introduced for Theale with Pangbourne Congregational Church. One controversy occurred in 1963 when the minister, the Revd Stuart Good, resigned to seek ordination in the Church of England.

In 1980 Theale joined the West Reading group of churches, which was served by two ministers; the associated churches were Grange, Pangbourne, Spencers Wood and Tilehurst United Reformed Churches. In 1984 the group was sub-divided, and Grange, Pangbourne and Theale formed a new "West of Reading" group.

The church closed in 1998.
AcquisitionDeposited in August 1998 (acc. 6288); February 2000 (acc. 6549); April 2001 (acc. 6735)

Schedule of accessions
Acc. 6288 : 8/1/1
Acc. 6549 : 1/1/1; 1/2/1-6; 3/1/1; 4/1/1-3; 5/1/1-4; 6/4/1-2; 6/5/1; 7/1/1; 7/2/1-4; 7/3/1; 8/1/2-3; 8/2/1; 13/1/1; 14/1-2
Acc 6735 : 1/2/7; 3/1/2; 6/5/2; 14/3
ArrangementClassification scheme: Non-conformist churches

[This scheme shows how the collection is arranged. This collection does not include every type of record in the scheme. See the summary for records included in this collection.]

1 Church administration
1/1 Church book
1/2 Church meeting minutes
1/3 General correspondence & administrative files
1/4 Papers presented to Church meeting
1/5 Miscellaneous

2 Deacons
2/1 Minutes
2/2 Miscellaneous

3 Elders
3/1 Minutes
3/2 Miscellaneous

4 Committees
4/1 Minutes
4/2 Miscellaneous

5 Treasurer
5/1 Accounts
5/2 Statements of accounts
5/3 Miscellaneous

6 Property records
6/1 Trustees minutes
6/2 Title deeds
6/3 Fabric papers
6/4 Accounts
6/5 Miscellaneous

7 Church Organisations
7/1 Sunday School
7/2 Others

8 Registration and membership
8/1 Registers
8/2 Membership registers and lists
8/3 Miscellaneous

9 Service of the Church
9/1 Service registers
9/2 Orders of service
9/3 Miscellaneous

10 Minister

11 Charities
11/1 General or united charities
11/2 Specific named charities

12 Publications
12/1 Magazines
12/2 Miscellaneous

13 Other bodies

14 Miscellaneous
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