Petworth Church built in 1855 to close after serious structural issues discovered

Petworth United Reform Church. Photo: Google Maps.Petworth United Reform Church. Photo: Google Maps.
Petworth United Reform Church. Photo: Google Maps.
The Unified Reformed Church (URC), in Petworth, is set to close later this year, after inspectors uncovered structural faults during an inspection.

First built in 1855, the church is set to close its doors for the last time in August. Minister Reverend Anne Lewitt said the faults uncovered by building inspectors were simply too serious and too expensive to fix, giving church higher-ups no choice but to shut up shop. “The church has been quite small for quite a long time, but it’s always played a big part in the town’s community,” said minister Reverend Anne Lewitt. “But the trigger was a survey of the building, which discovered that an enormous amount of work needed doing. The church is just not large enough to be handle a project like that.”

The church community is linked to two other churches in Billingshurst and Pulborough, which, it is hoped, church members will move on to when Petworth URC eventually closes.

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"We’ve been working with those churches for a really long time – actually since the 1960s. So we also hope there will be an opportunity to move to one of those churches and worship there; nobody, hopefully, will be in a position where they don’t have anywhere to worship.”

Even so, it’s a huge loss for a community of people who will have made friends and married in the centuries-old walls of a church, which might not ever see proper spiritual use again. “We’ve had a lot of people come forward to tell us abut their experiences with the church,” Rev. Lewitt said. “People are shocked, people are sad, but we’ve also had this outpouring of memory; people who’ve come in and said they used the hall for Boy’s Brigade or Sunday school. People have a lot of memories of the church, and we’re hoping we can help people to share some of those memories as part of the closure process.”It’s not yet clear what will happen to the building itself. Rev Lewitt said that decision will be taken by the Southern Synod – a larger body, of which the Petworth church is a member – and no clear plans have been made yet.

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