It was during the English Commonwealth of 1649-1660 that Puritanism first gained a foothold in Eltham, when the incumbent minister of the parish church St John the Baptist was replaced by the Puritan William Owen. The church was made quite plain inside, reflecting the Puritan emphasis on simplicity in worship. The Puritan political reformer John Lilburne also resided in Eltham at this time and died in 1657. Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, those ministers who did not conform to the Book of Common Prayer were thrown out in the Great Ejection of 1662; some 2,500 ministers were deprived of their livings. Thus it was confirmed that Puritans (or Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Baptists as they were coming to be known) had to organise themselves outside the established Church of England. Eltham URC is descended from those Christians ejected from the Church of England.
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We are grateful to the creators of our tapestry cushions
Geoff Terry, from whose book Independent Eltham this history is compiled.