The United Church Dorchester

United in faith, united in action

Our History


1630   Families from Dorchester emigrated to Massachusetts where they could practice their religion in peace and build the first Congregational church in New Dorchester.

1662   William Benn became the first Congregational Minister in Dorchester

1689   Freedom of worship granted with the Toleration Act.

1748   John Haime, a close friend of John Wesley, was the first Methodist preacher in Dorchester

1813   Congregationalists opened the first Sunday School in Dorchester

1831   Formation of the Dorchester Methodist Circuit

1834   The Tolpuddle Martyrs – six law abiding agricultural labourers who included five Methodists, two of whom were Dorchester Local Preachers – were sentenced at Dorchester Crown Court to transportation for seven years

1842   First British day-school was opened (with Congregational and Methodist support)

1849   Thomas Hardy became a pupil at the British School

1857   Opening of the South Street Congregational Church (now the United Church)

1875   Opening of the South Street Methodist Church ( demolished 1980)

1972   South Street Congregational Church became a member of the newly formed United Reformed Church

1978   Union of Dorchester town centre Methodist and United Reformed Churches: United Church Dorchester is established

1982   Present Church re-opened following alterations and refurbishment

1984   Partnership of Dorchester United Church with St Andreas Kirche, Lübbecke, Germany

1990   Formation of Dorchester and District Churches Together

2000   Opening of ‘Number Fifty-One’ Gallery and Coffee Lounge (now called Church Shop and Coffee Shop). This was part of the Catching the Vision Millennium project, which also saw the launch of the Child Contact Centre

2012   350th anniversary of William Benn becoming the first Congregational Minister in Dorchester

2018. 40th anniversary of United Church Dorchester being established