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  Grovehill, Piccotts End, Woodhall Farm and Phoenix

Grovehill Chronicle Text 1

Cupid Green Church

- And how it is taking on a new life with

St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church

 

  In 1936 a Methodist Mr Jeremiah Stanbridge felt the call to build a Church where Redbourn Road crosses St Agnells Lane. The owner of the land there  refused to give him permission to use his land and so it was built by the builders Charles Seldon & Son on the right much further up St Agnell's Lane. A pump organ was installed to accompany the singing and was pumped by Mr Stanbridge's grandson.

Those people who wanted to worship in a Methodist Church used to walk to St Mary's Methodist Church in Redbourn. On the day of Dedication the congregation overflowed into the porch.

 

Evacuees from London started to arrive and were billeted in the church overnight until homes were found for them the next day. Special services were put on when their parents came to visit.

 

There was an ack ack aircraft gun depot where the Council Works Depot is now and on one occasion American Air Force Personnel came to visit the church and filled it with their own particular style of evangelical testimonies and singing to the delight of all present.

The village had 200 inhabitants.

 

After a period when the services were temporarily discontinued due to lack of support the building was used for youth weekends becoming in a state of disrepair, hidden by waist high brambles right up to the front door.

 

In the 1986 booklet, Twenty Five Years of Cupid Green Church, Ray Eagles writes, 'I stood in front of a dilapidated church with broken windows recalling laughter and singing, but the only noise to be heard now was the wind in the trees and the eerie banging back and forth of something loose inside blowing about. I passed The Cupid pub bright with lights and people and prayed for the derelict building to be reborn.'

 

 Major Roach picks up the story. 'We walked from Cupid Green past the houses on the right into the narrow lane with hedges on either side and saw the disused church surrounded by high hedges, brambles and nettles. We got inside through a broken window, the ceiling was hanging down, the paint peeling and there was an old pile of rotting mattresses in the corner. I said, 'I understand that there are plans for Hemel Hempstead to be extended in this area. Could we reopen the church and be ready to serve the new community?' There was to be a condition, the church was to be a centre of worship for all, not just another Methodist Church.'

 

Major Roach gave up his job in high tech industrial consultation and opened a grocery shop in Markyate to be nearby to supervise the regeneration. With a budget of £180 the building was repaired and redecorated, the chairs were reseated and varnished and a cross, the Communion table and pulpit and other furnishings were hand made on the spot.

 

Villagers whose parents had been members of the old church and had been brought up there were thrilled to have it restored. Now there would be a place of worship for their children to attend.

 

A visiting minister said that it was the first time that he had ever been part of a service in which all the denominations took part; Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, the Salvation Army and Methodists.

 

Their piano was temperamental, on a cold day it was unplayable and so an organ fund was started and the decision was made for them to build their own organ, not such a surprising idea as Major Roach had already built three such organs 'just for fun'. The organ was to be a two manual, 21 stop, 30  note board and foot pedal, and £260 was raised by Cupid Green residents and from local industries. This organ was rebuilt again in the late 70s with microchips and transistors.

 

From 1975 the membership of 19 increased to 38 and in 1979 the decision ws made o build an extension to replace a builder's hut that they had been using. The fund began with 'a fiver' and ended the year with £277. Interest free loans were repaid by such modest means as filling Smartie tubes with £1 coins, the sale of a church cookery book and the collection of newspapers for recycling. Funding was raised and  at a cost of £13,250 the extension was built and opened in 1979 with great celebration with only £3,500 yet to find.

 

A ministry to people in the Sheltered Housing home at Two Beeches was started.

 

One of the many caring church activities was for the congregation to hire a coach to bring Chelsea Pensioners to Hemel for the day, show them the countryside and take them to tea in their homes after an evening service.

 

Towards the end of the 60s the ecumenical experiment in Grovehill was planned around a new community centre but the members of Cupid Green felt led to retain the church, however gradually people were drawn away to the new congregations and the last service at Cupid Green Church was held there on Good Friday 2005.

 

A small hut at the rear of the church was used by the original Grove Hill Playgroup until it moved to Hammond School.

 

Recently the all the Methodist Churches in the area have joined together under the title of Hemel Hempstead Methodist Churches and now meet at the church in Northridge Way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methodist Church 1936-2005                   Indian Orthodox Church 2012

 

The building which used to be the home of Cupid Green Methodist Church was derelict for many years until it was bought by the St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church and completely refurbished.

 

Around 500 people attended the opening ceremony in September 2012 including bishops from other churches and a representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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