Fairplace Church, Okehampton

Fairplace Terrace, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 1DT

Services - Sundays 10.30am and some Sunday evenings as advertised 6.30pm

Monthly Mid Week Holy Communion and Shoppers Services - see the Church notices for dates and times

Minister - Rev Liz Singleton

Senior Steward: Brenda Hockridge

URC Ordained Elders: Bobby and Malcolm Fortnam

Fairplace Methodist Church is in the centre of Okehampton opposite the Post Office. It is a United Church representing both the Methodist and the United Reformed Churches. As a member of Christians Together in Okehampton the Church shares with Christians of many denominations in the town. The Church building was opened as the new Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in 1904 and was refurbished the late 1990's reopening in 1999. During the refurbishment the pews were taken out to be replaced by chairs, a new entrance porch was added and the schoolroom and the Gratton hall were refreshed. A new venture, a coffee bar called the Terry Bennett Centre was created at the same time. The organ is from the old East Street (Bible Christian) Chapel which was brought to Fairplace when East Street closed. The Church has many activities including the Wives and Friends group,  the League of Friendliness, The Men's Forum Choir and a Bible study and Prayer group. On Sundays the fellowship meets at 10.30 am and 6.30 pm. The Church hosts many community activities during the week and holds coffee mornings usually in the Terry Bennett Centre on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10.00 am until midday.

~  THREE CHURCHES IN ONE: A HISTORY OF THE O.U.C.  ~

The present Fairplace Church replaced the existing Wesleyan Church built in 1842 at the West Turnpike gate (now the New Life Church). The site for Fairplace was secured in 1895. In May 1902 the scheme for Fairplace was approved and in January 1903 the Old Wesleyan Church was sold. It was stipulated that the Chapel should be completed and opened by October 1903. In the event, the Chapel was opened in March 1904. Hence the discrepancy in the date above the Church entrance showing 1903 and not 1904.

In September 1932 a special Service was held in the Sunday Schools to commemorate the Union of the Wesleyan Methodist Church with the United Methodist and the Primitive Methodist Church, so linking East Street Methodist Church and Fairplace.

In 1954, the Jubilee year, a further improvement was made to the Sunday School. Alderman Gratton made a gift to the trustees of the beautiful Gratton Hall which was capable of seating 150 people. His only wish was that the hall should serve as a meeting place for the youth and the elderly of the Borough.

In 1964 a Service of amalgamation was held with East Street Methodist Church which had been merged with Fairplace by a ruling of a special commission of the Plymouth and Exeter District of the Methodist Church. Fairplace being chosen for the merger purely because of its more advantageous location and would henceforth be known as the Okehampton Methodist Church.

In 1974 a Service of dedication was held and a covenant entered into between the United Reformed Church and the Methodist Church to be known henceforth as the Okehampton United Church.

Between September 1981 and March 1982 an additional storey was built above the Gratton Hall. In 1985 the organ was rebuilt and its pipes cleaned. The latest improvement was the installation of a fully computerised central heating system in 1991.
And now, although we must not forget the past, we must think of the best way forward, as we once again look to the future.

URC Southwestern Synod


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