The United Reformed Church in Bexley stands at the junction of Bexley High Street, Hurst Road and Parkhill Road. Its small spire can not compete with that of its neighbour St John’s, but the stone-faced building is, nonetheless a well known land mark that has stood there for 120 years.
In 1897 the plot of land was purchased from the University of Oxford and in 1890 the foundation stone was laid and in October of the same year the Sunday School buildings were ready to be used as a church with the first services taking place on October 16th. This is the building used as a church today and was in those days the Bexley Congregational Church. The original plans for the proposed church were extensive and would have had seating capacity for 800. However it took 25 years to raise the money needed to pay off the mortgage for the Sunday School building and no further mention of the planned larger church was made. The remainder of the land was leased to a neighbour in Salisbury Road and provided a small income for the church. The building today has altered very little from the original one, its high wood beamed roof is much admired and makes singing there a real joy. The windows are unusual and a pleasure to look at, although 120 years of time has begun to take its toll and work is now in hand to repair and refurbish them.
In 1920 the need for a Church Hall became increasingly apparent. The Sunday School particularly needed more space and this led to the building of the Ruxley Room. This was not the stone faced building that is there today but a wooden structure. The name came from Ruxley Manor, the owner of which had connections with the Congregational Church at St Mary Cray and also a relative of a founder member of the church at Bexley. The land leased to the neighbour in Salisbury Road was being used as a butterfly farm and there was some delay in repossessing part of the plot. This hall, on its own, soon proved to be inadequate and in 1926 the present large hall was added. The building was carefully planned by a committee and cost £500. The opening ceremony and dedication took place on October 14th, 1926. To the present day it is largely unaltered.
In 1954 the Ruxley Room had to be replaced after some strenuous physical exercises by young ladies using the room proved to be the last straw as far as the floor was concerned and it collapsed! The replacement building was the rather stronger construction of stone which is now part of the hall and kitchen buildings. Over the years the halls have been extensively used by generations of uniformed organisations, for bazaars and social events, and as a meeting place for many secular organisations and is still in use for such activities today.
Bexley has never been a wealthy church and has had to work hard over the years to meet its commitments. The members have always given generously to Mission projects and to maintain the church buildings. Much of this maintenance work has been undertaken by members and friends giving freely of their time and talents. Church work days are still very much part of the current agenda.