Water Lane URC

Finished in 1860 to replace at least two earlier buildings, this United Reformed church, built in the Italianate style is one of the most significant buildings in Bishop’s Stortford.

Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire

Opening times

The church may be accessed when the office is open, usually Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings from 9am to 12noon.
Please ring for an appointment.


Water Lane
Bishop’s Stortford
CM23 2JZ

The fellowship dates back to 1662. It was one of the Congregational Churches that came together with the Presbyterian Church of England in 1972 to form the United Reformed Church. As you approach the church up Water Lane, you are struck by this imposing building with two towers and curved frontage.

The building is ovoid in shape. Enter by the central door and you arrive in an expansive welcome area and meeting space, created in 2000. To your left are a kitchen, toilets, a vestry and the stairs to the galleries. To your right there is the War Memorial. You can glimpse the worship space through the glass screen. Go through either door and you discover a building gathered around Word and Sacrament as you are drawn to the dais ahead with the communion table and chairs, and lectern.

A portable pulpit is stored in a concealed cupboard. The original pulpit was removed in the 1980s. Behind the stage, is the organ built by William Hill in 1898 that now has a pneumatic action with a detached console on your right. Look up, and either side of the organ, are small stained glassed windows. To your left and right and behind are two curved galleries sweeping around the building.

It is possible to visit the middle gallery by the stairs in the entrance, but the top gallery is closed for safety reasons. The top gallery was created to seat the Sunday School that had 400 children at the time the building was opened, including boys from Bishop’s Stortford College that was the nonconformist Grammar School in the town (still one of the URC’s affiliated schools).

Look up again and you will see where all the natural light comes from: a large skylight in the roof. Stand on the platform and speak and experience the very good acoustic that not only makes the church an easy one in which to lead worship, but also a popular rehearsal and concert venue for choirs and small musical ensembles. The architect for this building WF Poulton, who went on to design Westminster Chapel in London as well as several other Congregational churches. Across the road, you can see the church hall built at the beginning of the 20th century.

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Social heritage stories

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Parking within 250m

  • On street parking at church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Dog friendly

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • During late November and early December, the church is open every day from 10am to 3pm for the sale of Christmas cards.

  • United Reformed Church

Contact information

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