The Church at Cores End was founded in 1768, as an Independent Chapel which ultimately became the focal point of nonconformist worship in the area.
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 farmhouse 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, a contemporary and confidant of Thomas Grove who succeeded Thomas as minister. He oversaw the building of the first chapel in 1781 on ground given by the Grove family. It was not long before that chapel was too small and in 1804 it was taken down and rebuilt by public subscription.
The building was further extended and refitted in 1881, with schoolrooms being added to the rear slightly earlier in the 1860s. During this period the church became an established part of the community’s life, bringing together people of a wide variety of backgrounds.
Two World Wars saw losses among the congregation and memorial plaques recall those who died in the wars. A wooden font was given in memory of two men, Charles Shirley (known as Sunny) and Thomas Stevens (Tommy) who died in the Far East campaign in the Second World War. Praying for peace today is an important part of the church’s life and worship today; a peace candle lit at the beginning of every Sunday service and prayer offered, that we may be channels of God’s peace.
1972 saw the union of the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church in England, resulting in the church becoming Cores End United Reformed Church.
Alterations in 2004 created a spacious entrance area, improved lighting and a new stained-glass window above the doorway, depicting the work of the Holy Spirit (as flames and the dove of peace).
In 2018 the church celebrated its 250th anniversary, a time to give thanks for the inspiring history of the church over the years, but also to consider how to better serve the community now and what God might be calling it to do and be in the years ahead. The church’s vision is to ‘know Jesus better and make him better known.’ The story continues….