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.

18th. January 1972: The Evening Advertiser announced Covingham’s first organ transplant, hastily explaining that the organ in question was a pipe instrument which had been moved from the old St Paul’s Church in the town centre, which had been demolished a little over seven years earlier. The organ’s new home was the St Paul’s Church Centre. 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, St. Timothy's, octagonal in shape, built in 1976 and dedicated on 20th. March 1977 and was later joined to the new Liden Community centre in 1980. Liden was also part of the Dorcan Parish. St. Timothy's is unusual in being designed and built by the Environmental Services Department of the local authority and Richard Pedlar Architects. The brickwork is unique being a light brown engineering brick from the Cattybrook Brick Company, Almondsbury.

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". Fifty 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,

Includes material 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
  Name Dates Vicarage/Manse
Anglican D.G. Gardner ?? - 1966 Larksfield  
Anglican Michael Cripps 1966 - ??    
Methodist Raymond Stevenson 1966 - ??    
Anglican Graham Potter 1971 - 1974    
Anglican Gerald Bostock 1971 - ??    
Methodist Peter Muff 1972 - 1976 Larksfield  
Anglican Paul Wheatley 1973 - 1979 St. Paul's  
Anglican David Sutch 1975 - 1979 Kershaw Road  
Anglican Geoffrey Fison 1979 - ?? Kershaw Road  
Methodist Keith Roberts 1980 - 1985 Larksfield  
Anglican Ron Murphy 1984 - ??   Non Stipendiary
Anglican Brian Pearce 1980 - 1991 St. Paul's  
Methodist Allen Ashley 1982 - 1985    
Methodist Hilary Cooke 1985 - 1993 Kershaw Road  
Methodist Kathleen Share 198? - 198?    
Anglican Robin Hungerford 1988 - 1992    
Anglican Ian Gooding 1992 - 1994 Larksfield  
Anglican Brian Duckett 1992 - 2000 St. Paul's  
Methodist Diane Daymond 1993 - 1998 Kershaw Road  
Methodist David Hawkes 1994 - 2000 Merlin Way Circuit Superintendent
Anglican David Parsons 1995 - ?? Own House Non Stipendiary
Anglican Paul Selley 1996 - 2000 Sedgebrook  
Anglican Beth Gardner 2001 - 2004 Nyland Road  
Anglican Tony Knapp 2001 - 2012 Sedgebrook  
Methodist Derek Collins 2002 - 2010 Merlin Way Circuit Superintendent
Anglican Beth Brown 2009 - 2013 Coleview  
Methodist Andrew Wigley 2011 - 2021 Merlin Way  
Anglican Trudie Wigley 2014 - Merlin Way/
Anglican Stuart Fisher 2011 - Own house Asoc. Local Minister
Anglican Rob Smith 2017 - 2020 Sedgebrook  
Methodist Stephen Roe 2021 - Merlin Way