Zion United Church

Sharing Christs love in Frampton Cotterell Coalpit Heath & beyond

These people are poor and foolish and do not know the Way of the Lord

The neighbourhood is enveloped in gross darkness, infidelity and iniquity

No these are not the words of  our present pastor rather that of Thomas Humphries

Zion Church Hall was previously a Congregational Chapel built after a campaign led by Thomas Humphries who was Collier Manager at Frog Lane coal mine. He compiled an Address that went to influential people, pleading for a chapel for the inhabitants, many being employed in hatting and collieries.  His Circular Address reads: - The neighbourhood is enveloped in gross darkness, infidelity and iniquity.  These people are poor and foolish and do not know the Way of the Lord.  A licence was obtained from Bishop of Gloucester to provide a building for public worship and Brockridge Close was selected as the site for Zion Chapel built in 1795, costing £354.

The Bristol Congregational Union provided lay-preachers from 1811 to preach and lead in Junior Church.  This evangelising was so successful that after 10 years there were 300 in the congregation with 220 children attending Sunday School.  Since the National School, (now Crossbow) and the Manor School only educated children having C of E allegiance, a British School was built at Brockeridge in 1845 for those children whose families attended free-church chapels.

Meanwhile George Pocock was conducting a lively Tent Methodist Mission - 1818 to 1821 at Mays Hill, in a tent capable of holding 500 people. They moved into a farm barn in Frampton End Road until 1821 when Wesley Chapel was built near the junction of Frampton End with Church Road. The Free Methodists built Bethel Chapel 1856 in Woodend Road close to Coalpit Heath Post Office; while the Primitive Methodists opened Hebron Chapel in 1887 along The Ridgeway; each with its Sunday School.

The inspired ministry of Rev William Mends Howell made it necessary to provide a larger building so in 1873 the current Zion Chapel opened at cost £1558, though sadly the Minister died aged 34yr prior to its completion.  This new chapel had seating for 200 with walls of rubble pennant sandstone and limestone coins & dressings.  

Parish Councils came into being in 1894, since prior to this the Anglican priest and churchwardens managed civil affairs at the Parish vestry.  In Frampton Cotterell the first elected Parish Council had Rev Peter Grant, minister of Zion, as Chairman with 5 Congregationalists, 3 Methodists and one Episcopalian, while the Rector himself was not elected.

After the 2nd World War an explosion of housing estates changed Frampton Cotterell from self-sustained rural hamlets into a commuter village where most influx families owned a car to travel elsewhere for work.  While the social climate was changing church attendance had dwindled, hence in 1968 it was expedient to amalgamate the three Methodist chapels with the Congregational chapel to form Zion United Church.  A glazed screen was installed to create a welcoming Entrance foyer while at the front a carpeted platform was constructed.  The lively congregation represents a variety of denominational backgrounds, so joyful worship reflects this diversity.

In 1989 attached cottages that once housed a caretaker was demolished and replaced by a new building with meeting rooms and offices.  The Church Hall was extensively refurbished in 2004 to provide access for disabled people with upgraded kitchen and toilets.  Zion Graveyard is accessed along Upper Chapel Lane holds over 300 interments but filled by 1940s.  Invasive weeds made it unsightly and dangerous so following publicity the Church Authorities removed gravestones in 1985 to convert this to a garden of remembrance, while headstones were fixed along the west boundary wall.