Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Bere Regis Congregational, Dorset

In 1662 Philip Lamb, vicar of Bere Regis, was one of the puritan clergy to resign and can therefore be considered as the founder of the Congregational Church in the parish. There were 73 clergy known to have been ejected from the Church of England in Dorset. Lamb was one of those who resigned before being ejected.
He was apparently a zealous minister preaching at Winterborne Kingston, his second church, as well as at Bere Regis. From the age of 21 he laboured at Bere and Kingston, until his ejection, holding a service every day in the week at Bere at 6.00 am. In his farewell sermon he said, "l may not speak from God to you, yet I shall not cease to speak to God for you."
Lamb secured a large place in the affections of the people, and there was great grief when he was silenced. For some time he continued to preach privately, and undoubtedly it was under his guidance that the Congregational Church was formed.
Later he was forced to move to Morden, where doubtless he found refuge with a stout friend of non-conformity, Sir Walter Erle, who lived at Charborough Park. Later still he moved to Alton Pancras near Cerne Abbas.
In 1672 he was granted a licence to be ‘a Congregational Teacher' in East Morden. Later still a convenient meeting house in Winterborne Kingston, probably the residence of Richard Woolfreys, was provided for him, where the people flocked from all parts to hear him. Persecution drove him to flee to Clapham, London, where he died in 1689 at the age of 66. He was offered £600 a year, a princely salary in those days, if he would conform, but he was not tempted. He was a man of unaffected piety, cheerful temper and engaging personality.
Precise information is not available of the trials and persecutions of the Bere Regis dissenters, as records, if kept, have since been lost. It appears that six ministers preached here in rotation once a fortnight until a Mr Bulstrode settled there in 1670.

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