47 High Street

high st objects
Artist’s impression by Edward King of how the building demolished to make way for the Congregational church might have looked.

A 17th century house once stood here, occupied at one time by Thomas Thirle, one of the last surgeon-barbers who used to do all the bleeding in the town (a common practice thought to improve health). The house was demolished in 1847 to make way for the present United Reformed Church, which was built in the Decorated Gothic style to replace the Congregational chapel in St Thomas Street. That chapel dated back to at least 1672. Its minister in 1820 was Rev David Everard Ford, who composed the anthem ‘Hark the Trumpet’. On its first playing he secreted the town trumpeter, old Macey, under the pulpit. At the appropriate moment Old Macey sounded the trumpet with a loud blast, causing much alarm and fright among the older members of the congregation!

To the right of the courtyard is the Victorian minister’s home. Behind the church was the British School, which was established by Rev David Lloyd and opened in 1848. It catered mainly for Non-Conformists and by the end of its first year had 259 pupils. It failed in 1877, reopened in 1888 and closed for good in 1911.

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