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Twickenham United Reformed Church

Our History: The First Pastorate

Rev. Benjamin Henry Kluht, 1816-1868. Lay Pastor of Independent Chapels at Twyford, Berks, and Emsworth, Hants, studied at Hackney College, then ministered at Twickenham (1840-48), Billericay (1848-56) and Gravesend (1856-68)

Evangelical magazine 1841, p.252

On Wednesday, March 10, the Rev B.H.Kluht, late of Hackney College, was publicly ordained to the pastorate office of the Independent Chapel, Twickenham....

[Those taking part are listed as Rev T. Martin (Richmond) - reading and prayer; Rev S. Ransom (Hackney College) - introductory discourse; Rev J. Churchill (Thames Ditton) - questions; Rev Dr Leifchild - ordination prayer; Rev J. Sherman - charge; Rev Mr Edwards (Kingston) - prayer. Rev Messrs Lord, Yonge & Newbury and Messrs Lewis & Gill of Hackney College also assisted.]

"The Rev Charles Hyatt, sen. of Shadwell introduced the evening service by reading a portion of scripture and prayer; after which the Rev N.M.Harry preached an impressive sermon to the people from Acts ii. 42; the Rev Mr France of Ham concluded with prayer. At the close of the morning service, a number of ministers and friends dined at the George Inn. Sir Robert Shaw presided; and his excellent lady was also present. After dinner, Dr Leifchild called the intention of the company to the importance at the present juncture of circulating as widely as possible, the principles of the congregational body; and as the excellent introductory discourse of mr ransom which they had just heard contained a faithful exposition of these principles, as well as a just exposure of the fallacies put forward by the apostolical successionists, he would move that the rev. gent be requested to allow it to be printed in a cheap form for circulation in Twickenham and the surrounding districts. The proposal was cordially received and adopted unanimously. ...... By a similar resolution, the Rev J. Sherman was urged to allow his able and impressive charge to be published in connexion with Mr Ransom's discourse. Although, from the pressure of other duties, Mr S. could not then engage to prepare it for publication, it is sincerely hoped that he will be enabled to meet the anxious desire of all who were present on that occasion".

Evangelical magazine 1843, p.409

1843 foundation stone Twickenham The foundation stone of a new Independent chapel was laid at the above place, on 10th April 1843. The ceremony was performed by Sir Robert Shaw, Bart, acting for his excellent lady, who has been the principal means, under God, of introducing and sustaining the gospel in the neighbourhood, and who, beside giving the ground on which the chapel will stand, contributes liberally towards its erection. The service was commenced by an appropriate hymn from Dr Leifchild's Original Hymns, which was given out by the Rev B.H. Kluht, the pastor of the church, for whose accommodation the building is being erected; the Rev J. West of Sunbury read Psalm cxviii; the Rev J. Churchill of Thames Ditton, gave a brief history of the rise and progress of the Independent interest at Twickenham; the Rev J. Leifchild, D.D., of London, addressed the spectators on the doctrines and discipline of Independent churches; and the Rev W.Collins, (Baptist,) of Kingston, concluded with prayer. The Rev Messrs Lord, Stevens and Hedges took part in the service; and notwithstanding the unfavourable state of the weather the attendance was very numerous.

The drawing below shows the first chapel on the left and the schoolroom on the right

The first chapel

Evangelical magazine 1848, p.205

The Rev B.H. Kluht late of Twickenham, has received and accepted a cordial and unanimous invitation to the pastorate of the Independent Church, Billericay, Essex .... Prior to his leaving Twickenham a public tea meeting was held at which a present of a valuable publication was given to him in the name of the teachers of the sabbath school. At the same time a number of his ministerial brethren expressed their great respect for Mr Kluht, and regret at his leaving the neighbourhood.

Mr Kluht ministered in Billericay and the surrounding villages until February 1856. One of his early tasks was the founding of a British School to provide elementary education for the poor. This first met in a hired cottage then in a purpose-built schoolroom, now the Rose Hall. He moved to Gravesend where he died in 1868 at the young age of 52. His son, Alfred, became pastor at Billericay in 1876.

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Last updated 16 Sept 2008

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