Old Meeting House Congregational Church (1643)

The Best Hidden Church in Norwich


It is night, with shadowy figures in twos and threes picking their way through orchards and gardens and narrow streets. A door opens and closes intermittently, without noise and without light. More people have entered than can be accommodated in the house.

Newcomers go to the neighbouring houses, but the dividing walls have been pierced with holes, and they can at least hear one another. Soon there is quietness, and one voice is raised alone, raised in prayer, reading and preaching. There is a simple service of worship – no singing for fear it should be overheard by spies on watch for such sounds.

Outside at various corners are friends watching and waiting to give warning to the worshipers. At a later hour the preacher is secretly conveyed away, and the people depart as they had come, but with a glow in their hearts and a quite resolution and enthusiasm.

This is how the fathers of those who built the Old Meeting House, founded their Church in days when they were forbidden to erect a building, and were subject to all manner of penalties for the crime of being Nonconformists and Dissenters. Such enthusiasm founded the Church which has lived through more than  three and half centuries.