Forest Hall Assembly, Nutley, England

Forest Hall in the village of Nutley is situated in beautiful countryside in the heart of the Ashdown Forest. It is known affectionally in the local area as ‘The Chapel in the Woods’. The assembly first gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in 1897, thus witnessing in the village continuously for over 100 years.

Prior to the formation of this fellowship, many believers had been meeting at a mission hall on the other side of the village. Mr. Moorcock, with several other believers, left this fellowship in view of teaching concerning the ‘second blessing experience’. Land was purchased for 10 shillings (50 pence in today’s UK money) in 1893, a hall Hall was constructed, and believers gathered on New Testament principles; and the testimony has been maintained to the present day.

Mr. Moorcock, a Fegan’s boy (a well-known orphanage), originated from London and, despite some physical restrictions, he was not deterred from visiting the people of Nutley. He was responsible for most of the gospel meetings, with the assistance of Mr. Fred Hunniset. These meetings were well attended, in particular the young people’s meetings.

Mr. Moorcock’s son, Frederick, was killed in World War 1. At that time he was engaged to a godly sister called Miss Agnes Hooper. After Frederick’s death she married Mr. Jack Hughes who took over much of the assembly responsibility from Mr. Moorcock after he moved to Eastbourne where he spent his later years.

With limited information available little is known about the assembly during the early 1930’s but the work prospered and by the 1940’s a very large Sunday School had evolved with many parents also attending, some walking long distances to get to the meetings. Under the spiritual influence of Mrs. Hughes the sisters were active among the womenfolk of the village, encouraging them to attend the women’s meetings. The meetings continued during the World War 2 with many villagers regularly attending. German prisoners of war, who were based locally, attended meetings conducted by Mr. Ransom Cooper, an able gospel preacher who was also fluent in German. Many of these prisoners came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus at that time. Two in particular kept in touch with the believers in Nutley – Heinz Matting, who went back to the Eastern block, and Berthold Sauenbrey, who continued to meet with local believers in his home village of Lenbach in Germany.

Over the last fifty years a number of brethren have sought to maintain the testimony. Mr. Hughes, a Counties worker, shouldered much of the responsibility from 1950 until his homecall in 1989. Mr. A. E. Long, a well-known contributor to several assembly periodicals, including this one, was in fellowship until his homecall. Many other believers could be named but special mention should be made of Mr. Tom Dick and Mr. Eric Beadle, both heavily involved after the war. Mr. Edward (Ted) Chippington and his wife joined the fellowship in 1977 and Ted shouldered much of the responsibility until his homecall in 1998. These brethren have been supported over the years by numbers of other believers many of whom are now in old age but still maintain their interest in and commitment to the work of the assembly. Some of these saints have been in fellowship for over sixty years. There are presently eight believers in full time fellowship.

During 2007, two weeks of gospel meetings were conducted by the believers themselves with help from nearby assemblies. In 2008 Mr. Jim Wishart from Northern Ireland conducted two further weeks of meetings when good interest was shown. Many homes were visited and further visits are planned. The assembly has a witness stand at the annual village fete in June each year where many contacts are made with both adults and children. This provides opportunity for distribution of tracts and other literature.

Building work has commenced on reconstruction of the kitchen and toilet facilities to bring them up to the standards required by current legislation.

With a long history, the assembly, though small, is still very active and we value the prayers of the Lord’s people. This picture was taken when the assembly celebrated its sixth anniversary in 1903.

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