Including Congregational End in 1972 to URC
The Church at Cores End, founded in 1768 has an interesting history. A local historian writing about the early days of the Church states that in the last quarter of the 18th century an Independent Chapel was established at Cores End which ultimately became the focal point of nonconformist worship in the area.
Disenchantment with the Established Church has a long history in South Buckinghamshire, starting with the Lollards and then having a resurgence in the years after the Reformation, when Lord Wharton who lived in Wooburn, persisted in his commitment to 'Puritan concepts of worship'.
For much of the second half of the 18th century Wooburn had no resident vicar and services in the Parish Church were infrequent. During this time a group of local parishioners formed a 'Conference Society' and met in each other's homes for Bible study and prayer. Grace Grove and her family who lived at Cores End Farm and owned about 170 acres of land, were active members of this group.
Thomas Grove, her grandson, who had been orphaned and brought up by Grace, decided when still a young man to become a preacher. In 1767 he began his studies for ordination into the Church of England at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. While there, along with five other students he fell foul of the authorities and was accused of preaching in a barn and offering up impromptu prayers. After a 'trial' he and the other five students were expelled from St. Edmund Hall. This caused a great furore at the time with letters and pamphlets being written, mainly in favour of the six students, for well over the next thirty years.
After this bitter blow, Thomas Grove returned to Cores End in 1768 and supported by his family and friends began to preach. The family farm house in Hawks Hill soon became too small to hold the increasing number of people attracted to his services. A barn at the rear was brought into use as a temporary chapel. 'Here surely was a prophecy come true for this is what he had been accused of doing in Oxford'. Twice the barn was enlarged to accommodate as many as 300 people who came to hear him preach.
Set in a boundary wall of the church graveyard is a tablet inscribed, 'This wall is part of the barn in which the founder of the Church, the Rev. T. Grove first held services, 1768'.
In March 1773 'twenty eight persons gave themselves to the Lord and to one another by the will of God'. Others followed and by the end of Thomas Grove's ministry at Cores End in 1778, sixty nine members had been enrolled. This informal gathering was constituted as an independent (later Congregational) Church.
Thomas English who succeeded him as minister, was a contemporary and confidant of Thomas Grove. He oversaw the building of the first chapel in 1781 on ground given by the Grove family. However, as one of the inscriptions on the front of the present church informs us, that chapel was taken down and rebuilt in 1804 by public subscription.
This building was further extended and refitted in 1881, with schoolrooms being added to the rear slightly earlier in the 1860's. Recent alterations in 2004 included, a spacious entrance area, a new stained glass window above the doorway, along with modern lighting and new carpeting.
The church changed it's name again in 1972 and became Cores End United Reformed Church.
The United Reformed Church, or URC as it is often known, has brought together:
English, Welsh and Scottish Congregationalists
and members of the Church of Christ
through unions in 1972, 1981 and 2000.
Sources: B. B. Wheals - Theirs Were But Human Hearts.