How It Started - Hinton St. George, Somerset

F. G. Russell

This picturesque stone-built village is situated on high ground about three miles north-west of Crewkerne, well off the main road between Yeovil and Taunton. With, its splendid mansion and park, Hinton House, dating from the days of Henry 8th, its beautiful 15th century Church, its age-old Carthusian Priory, and its ancient stone Cross, it is indeed a charming old-world place.

For those whose eyes have been anointed by the Spirit of God it has other attractions. For nearly ninety years there lias been an assembly in this village bearing constant witness to the redeeming love of God, and the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ, This work com­menced with the labours of Mr, Thomas Newberry, the gifted Editor of the Englishman's Bible. Early in the year 1863, a Mrs. Newberry, widow of the late rector of Hinton, invited Mr. Newberry, who was then living at Crewkerne, to give some Bible-readings in the village. These readings aroused great interest, and to many the Bible became a new book. New Testament Church truth was emphasized, and ho too were the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Every week for over a year these meetings continued, with an ever increasing interest. The following year, almost without any prearrangement, a number of believers began to meet in the simple New Testament way in the room of a cottage at No. 7, Merriott Road, remembering the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread on the first day of the week. In this cottage their numbers increased, and so did the spiritual power of the meetings.

By 1870 there were 57 in fellowship, many coming from the neighbouring villages of Marriott, Martock, Lopen, Petherton, Allowenshay and Dinnington. Indeed, so great was the interest that a new and larger building was imperative if the work was to be consolidated.

Help for this was soon forthcoming, and after much thought and prayer Milverton Cottages, in the main street, were purchased on April 5th, 1872, by Mrs. Newbery's son, Fred. The land being leasehold, permission had to be obtained to build; this was readily granted by Lord Paulett. The cottages were then demolished, and on June 17th, 1874, the foundation stone of the new building was laid. To mark the happy occasion, an open-air meeting was held. Mr. Fred Newberry and Mr. Thomas Newberry conducted this meeting, and both spoke from Isaiah 28. 16 to a large gathering. In the middle of December, 1874, the new Hall, a line stone building, complete with baptistery, was finished. On Tuesday, December 22nd, with much praise and thanksgiving, it was opened with services at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

On Christmas day, at 9 a.m., three young men were baptized. One of these was Harry Stembridge, who was destined to play a leading part in the life of the assemblies at Hinton St. George and Taunton lor many years.

How many dear and valued saints have come and gone at Hinton! But the budding, its fine stone now mellow with age, remains; and, thank God, the assembly remains with its constant witness to divine realities. May it continue to do so "till He come."