History of the Dorcan Church

The History of the Dorcan Church starts in 1965 when St. Paul's Church in Edgware Road, off Regent Street in the centre of Swindon, was demolished. The old St. Paul's was built in 1881 to a design by Edmund Ferrey and extended in 1883 by John Bevan and served the centre of Swindon for over eighty years. The site was sold to Woolworths for £65,000 with a corner of the former church being retained and a small chapel, St. Aldhelm's, was constructed for occasional weekday services.

The processional cross displayed in the Church was presented by the congregation to the old St. Paul's in 1893.

From the proceeds of the sale a new church was to be built in Covingham and join the Anglican churches of St. John's and St. Andrew's in a new enlarged parish. The Dorcan Church serving the estates of Covingham, Nythe, Liden and Eldene.

Bishop Oliver Tomkins of Bristol believed that ecumenism was the future of the Christian Church. He discussed the idea of the new church at Covingham becoming the first official ecumenical church in the country with Dr. Leslie Wollen, Chairman of the Bristol Methodist District.

After much discussion and many meetings, it was agreed to commission the Rev. Michael Cripps (Anglican) and Rev Raymond Stevenson (Methodist) as the first ministers to jointly run the new ecumenical church. The commissioning took place on Friday 16th. September 1966 in Nythe School. The new parish was to be known as Dorcan.

 The first services took place in Nythe School. Although the new area of Nythe and Covingham had over nine hundred homes, attendance at these services was poor. Some eighty people of all denominations, both clergy and lay people, were gathered together and given the task of visiting every home with the news of the Dorcan Church. Each person was allocated up to fifteen homes and, within a short space of time, everyone on the Nythe and Covingham estates were aware of the new church.

On the 10th. July 1971 St. Paul's Church was opened built to a design by the Brand, Potter, Hare Partnership. The Church Centre was to be a flexible multipurpose building for the whole community. Pipework and other 1890s components from the Old St. Paul's Organ were incorporated into a re-built organ with an electro-mechanical action added.

The Eldene congregation met for worship at the Eldene Community Centre when it opened in 1973. It was intended for a church to be built in Eldene, but the idea was abandoned in favour of using the local authority centre. Previous worship was held in other local venues. Eldene had now become part of the new Dorcan Parish.

In Liden, a small group first met for Holy Communion at the temporary community centre on 6th. October 1974. The church increased in number with the growth of the locality, meeting first of all in people's houses and then in the local primary school. A new church building, octagonal in shape, opened in 1977 and was joined to the new Liden Community centre. Liden was also part of the Dorcan Parish.

When Bishop Oliver Tomkins explained the new Dorcan concept to General Synod, he was saddened when some of his fellow bishops said, "It won't work". Forty years later, and many Anglican and Methodist clergy (both men and women) have proved the Bishop right in his bold and imaginative concept, and continued the excellent ministry begun by Rev. Michael Cripps and Rev. Raymond Stevenson,

From the 40th. Anniversary magazine October 2006 by Nigel Sharp
A fuller history can be viewed here.
The compiler and editor would be grateful for any additions and corrections you may have. Please send them to 'The editors of the Dorcan History'

Ministers of the Dorcan Church
AnglicanMichael Cripps1966 - ??  
MethodistRaymond Stevenson1966 - ??  
AnglicanGraham Potter1971 - 1974  
AnglicanGerald Bostock1971 - ??  
MethodistPeter Muff1972 - 1976Larksfield 
AnglicanPaul Wheatley1973 - 1979St. Paul's 
AnglicanDavid Sutch1975 - 1979Kershaw Road 
AnglicanGeoffrey Fison1979 - ??Kershaw Road 
MethodistKeith Roberts1980 - 1985Larksfield 
AnglicanRon Murphy1984 - ?? Non Stipendiary
AnglicanBrian Pearce1980 - 1991St. Paul's 
MethodistAllen Ashley1982 - 1985  
MethodistHilary Cooke1985 - 1993Kershaw Road 
MethodistKathleen Share198? - 198?  
AnglicanRobin Hungerford1988 - 1992  
AnglicanIan Gooding1992 - 1994Larksfield 
AnglicanBrian Duckett1992 - 2000St. Paul's 
MethodistDiane Daymond1993 - 1998Kershaw Road 
MethodistDavid Hawkes1994 - 2000Merlin WayCircuit Superintendent
AnglicanDavid Parsons1995 - ??Own HouseNon Stipendiary
AnglicanPaul Selley1996 - 2000Sedgebrook 
AnglicanBeth Gardner2001 - 2004Nyland Road 
AnglicanTony Knapp2001 - 2012Sedgebrook 
MethodistDerek Collins2002 - 2010Merlin WayCircuit Superintendent
AnglicanBeth Brown2009 - 2013Coleview 
MethodistAndrew Wigley2011 - Merlin Way 
AnglicanTrudie Wigley 2014 - Merlin Way