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Article written by Alec Barber, Ruishton

Until 1830, Creech people were members of the church at North Curry.

In the 1830’s there was a meeting at Thurloxton connected with the Creech St Michael Church, and in 1838 Richard Maynard registered a house for worship in Ruishton: he was one of the 1828 chapel trustees and one of the first deacons to be elected at Silver Street. Pew rents were the source of income: in 1849 William Maynard was chosen deacon at “Zion” – and we are told; “he will be expected to collect the seat money”. A job no one wanted to do, given to a Ruishton man!

Kember mentions North Curry as a preaching station of Silver Street in 1825 and also Creech in the same year. Thurloxton is mentioned in 1833; was this in fact Adsborough? A preaching station at Ruishton was closed by 1850 but I believe that the Congregationalists had a ‘tin chapel’ in the village later than this.

Much more could be said about the Maynards who were a prominent family at Silver Street for many years.

Creech St Michael was busy and growing in the first half of the last century, as the canals and railways were built. People walked along the towpath to and from work in Taunton. The church grew too; by about 1857 the membership was thirty. The Church book is taken up with discipline matters: one lady embarrassed the church by having her infant christened at the parish church and was excluded.

Until 1868 singing was unaccompanied at the services but we are told that it was badly conducted so a harmonium was introduced. In 1846 the Lord’s table was opened to people who had not been baptised by immersion and in 1879 church membership was opened, perhaps because influential Congregationalists from Taunton were moving to the village.

In 1880’s the work seems to have been prosperous; an 1882 church meeting dealt with twelve applications for church membership, which stood at about fifty by 1885. However, the 1890’s seem to have been a difficult period. Three deacons offered their resignations in 1894, and this trouble was not resolved until 1898. There were also differences of opinion as to whether there should be a colporteur to serve Creech St Michael, Trull and Corfe or whether there should be a village evangelist to serve the whole area. About the turn of the century the membership was down to twenty two.

Pew rents were still the source of finance but in 1902 a monthly collection commenced. At the end of 1904 Mr Thorne coaxed the choir down from the gallery. By 1907 there had been such a loss of members that it was almost impossible to maintain the services and Sunday School without outside help. There followed the years of dependence on the support of Silver Street and then the ministers shared with North Curry. The routine of special services, tea meetings and so on was no doubt maintained, but it was not until the pastorate of Mr Francis, which commenced in 1931, that the Church was really prosperous again.

Article copyright Alec Barber of Ruishton, May 2011