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Quinta Church History

The following is the entry for the Quinta Church in Congregationalism in Shropshire by Ernest Elliot (Oswestry, 1898).

The Quinta

The Rev. T. Davison, who served the Quinta Church as pastor for twenty years, has said that 'the residence of Mr Barnes at the Quinta, will be chiefly memorable for the erection of the Congregational Church, a beautiful Gothic structure, covered with ivy and roses, and internally decorated with great taste, constituting it one of the chief attractions of the district. Ever since its erection, Mr Barnes has entirely supported the ministry, by providing a lovely manse and a liberal salary, also personally, in conjunction with his late excellent wife, co-operating in all the varied activities of church and Sunday School work. The relations between Mr Barnes and the minister were the most cordial and hearty. There was not the remotest approach to authority and dictation on the part of Mr Barnes towards the minister, who entirely depended upon him for pecuniary support, but invariably the greatest respect and affection. This was the experience of twenty years by one of the pastors.'

As the name of Thomas Barnes, Esq., is so often met with in the history of Shropshire Congregationalism, a brief sketch of his career will be in place here. Mr Barnes was born at Farnworth in 1812. Receiving parental training of an exemplary Christian character, he became in early youth a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and was received as a member of the church at Farnworth, then under the pastoral care of the Rev. D. Dyson. He was soon elected a deacon and superintendent of the Sunday School, efficiently filling both offices for several years. In 1837 he established, in conjunction with his father and brother, a day school, still known in Farnworth as 'The Seminary'. For some time he was treasurer to the Blackburn Academy (now Lancashire College). In 1849, he was made a magistrate for Lancashire, and from 1852 to 1857, and again from 1861 to 1868, represented Bolton in Parliament as a, Liberal. He removed to the Quinta in 1858, and was appointed a magistrate for Denbighshire, filling also the office of High Sheriff. He was treasurer of the Salop Association from 1861 to 1885. This office, to quote Mr Davison again, 'so far from being merely a nominal one and limited to the subject of finance, included in his estimation and fulfilment of it a real and hearty interest in the true welfare of the churches throughout the county. This was shown by the regularity of his attendance at all the meetings of the Association, and the wise counsels and practical suggestions he was so willing and able to give. In conjunction with our late esteemed brethren, the Rev. D.D. Evans, of Bridgnorth, and Mr Thomas Minshall, of Oswestry, he went on several occasional tours amongst the churches, especially the weaker ones in the county, to encourage and stimulate them in their good work.

'Those who were intimately associated with Mr. Barnes in the work of the Salop Association will always cherish the most pleasant and grateful recollections of his genuine devotion and real practical interest in all its departments of Christian work, and his old friends with whom he worked so happily, as well as his new friends who may only know him by name, will earnestly pray that now he is laid aside by great physical inability and entire incapacity for any active work, he may have a peaceful and happy waiting for his heavenly reward.' Mr Barnes passed to his rest 24 April 1897.

The Quinta Church was opened for worship on 14 October 1858, there being a large gathering of ministers and friends.

The following is a copy of the circular issued on the occasion by Mr. Barnes:

'The Quinta Congregational Church. Mr Barnes, presents his compliments to and invites to the Public Services connected with the Dedication of the above Church which will be held as follows:

'On Thursday, October 14th, the Rev. Dr Raffles, of Liverpool, will preach in the morning, and the Rev. G. D. McGregor in the evening.

Services to commence at 11 o'clock a.m. and at half-past 6 p.m.

'On the following Sunday, the Rev. Samuel Martin, of Westminster, will preach morning and evening; and the Rev. Robert Thomas, of Bangor (in Welsh), in the afternoon.

'Services to commence at 11 o'clock, at 3, and at half-past 6.'

The first minister was the Rev. J.D. Riley, of Lancashire College, who began his ministry in 1861, and resigned in September, 1863. During his pastorate, the church was formed as the following extract from the Church Book will show:

'27 February 1862. On Thursday evening, 27 February 1862, at 7 o'clock, nine persons, professing themselves Christians, met in the Quinta Congregational Church and joined in solemn covenant and Christian fellowship, thereby constituting themselves into an independent church, on Congregational principles. The names of those thus entering into a mutual covenant and fellowship are: John Dobson Riley, minister, Judith Riley, his wife ; Thomas Barnes, Anne Barnes, his wife; John Thomas, John Williams, David Ellerker, John Broughall, Robert Salmon. The Rev. John D. Riley opened the service, as presiding minister, by reading the Scriptures from Ephesians 2, and engaging in prayer, after which the Rev. John Lockwood, of Oswestry, gave an address on 'The principles and discipline of a Congregational Church'. The Rev. F.B. Brown, of Wrexham, then gave an address on 'The requirements for Church Membership', after which the Covenant as prefixed to the roll of Church members in this book, was read by Rev. J.D. Riley, as also the 'twenty principles of religion', and thirteen 'principles of Church order and discipline', as declared by the Congregational Union of England and Wales, and prefixed to the beginning of this book. Assent having been signified to these by holding up of the right hand, the Lord's Supper was then partaken of by the above-named persons, as a pledge of the covenant into which they had entered with each other and with their God. The service closed with singing and prayer.'

On May 3rd, 1863, at a special church meeting, Messrs Thomas Barnes and David Ellerker were unanimously elected deacons.

Mr Riley preached his farewell sermon on 27 September and at a meeting on the 30th, 'an expression of satisfaction at his service was proposed by William Porter, seconded by Thomas Barnes, which was to be signed by the Deacons on behalf of the church and handed to him.'

On 25 September 1861, it was resolved to invite to the pastorate the Rev. Thomas Davison, of Crewe. He accepted the invitation, and commenced his labours on Sunday, 6 November, preaching in the morning from Psalm 71:16, and in the evening from 2 Thessalonians 3:1. For twenty years he faithfully served the church, and is now deeply beloved by all who remain of the congregation to which he ministered. On his retirement he went to live at Whittington, and later to Brierley Hill, where he still resides. His late wife was indefatigable in her labours for the church and all good works in the neighbourhood.

Mr Davison's successor was the Rev. E.W. Place, B.A., of Lancashire College, who began his ministry in April, 1837. After much good work had been done he resigned in November 1889.

The present minister, the Rev. W.E. Hughes, who had been for some years pastor of the neighbouring church at Preeshenlle, received an invitation from the church soon after the resignation of Mr Place. He commenced his ministry in March, 1890, and 'can add his testimony to that of his predecessors, that the relations beween him and the church have been the happiest possible.'

Contiguous to the church stand the handome school buildings, erected in memory of the late Mrs Barnes, who had long wished for new schools. They were designed by Mr T. Raffles Davison, and built by Messrs Hughes and Stirling, of Liverpool, at the cost of about 4,000. They are handsome and convenient, and in every way adapted for the Sunday School and public meetings held in them.

No history of the church at the Quinta could be at all complete without special reference to the zeal and generosity of Mr Barnes and of Colonel and Mrs Barnes. Mr Barnes built the church and has continued to maintain the ministry at his own expense. He was the first deacon. Since his health failed, Mr Thomas Frith, and later Mr James Richardson have been elected deacons.

Colonel Barnes has for thirty years led the choir and in every way helped in the work. Mrs Barnes is known throughout all our churches for her zeal and earnest activity. Missions, education, temperance, and all other movements for good have found in her a true friend and efficient helper.

The membership of the church has continued to grow in spite of the fact that young people leave the district for the towns and industrial centres in search of employment and better pay. The roll now contains fifty-four names.

The missionary zeal of the Quinta Church, inspired and led by the teaching and example of Mr Barnes and his family, deserves especial notice. The congregation not being called upon to contribute to the minister's stipend or the building fund, is free to help other causes, as other churches are not. In 1891, Mr W.E. McFarlane, who was going out to Mongolia, became the missionary of the Quinta Church in a special sense, all the funds needed for his maintenance being raised here. His health failing, he was compelled to return to England. Since then the Rev. T. Cochrane, M.B., C.M., who has sailed for the same part of the mission field, has entered into the same relation with the church.

The Colleges of the denomination, the Pastors' Retiring Fund, Caterham School, the London Congregational Union, Dr Barnardo's Homes, and other benevolent institutions have been liberally helped year by year from the church's funds.