The First Two Churches 1820 - 1866
The first 100 seater Church was built and opened on 29 September 1825, a mere 5 years after the arrival of the Nottingham Party at Clumber. William Pike, a framework knitter in Nottingham, assumed the role of lay pastor for the Nottingham Party on board the Vessel Albury on their journey from England to South Africa. He continued his spiritual guidance once the Party settled at Clumber and was the driving force in establishing the first Church.
There were occasional hazards, as when,on April 16 1826 the congregation was disturbed by a herd of 40 elephants as they moved past the Church to their feeding grounds.
The first baptism in the Church was that of George, son of George Hodgkinson, by the Rev Samuel Young on September 24 1826. In 1827 John Ayliff was ordained as a Minister. An occasion in 1828 was the Memorial Service for Edye, wife of Aaron Aldum on May 22 when William Davis preached. By October 7 1828 the Church was free of debt.
Early in 1829 William Pike became ill. A Service in which he could take part was held in his home by Rev John Ayliff. The Minister visited him again on the 17th. On the following day he died, and was buried near the Church he had served so well.
The Rev John Davis visited Clumber during 1830. The Rev John Ayliff was transferred, and Rev Samuel Palmer took charge in Lower Albany for 1831. There were now 25 children attending Sunday School. Rev William Satchwell was in charge in 1832 and Rev Richard Haddy in 1833. The congregation was growing, up to 55 people attending in 1834.
The Church and the Settler homes had to be abandoned in 1834 during the Sixth Frontier War. On December 23 the people were ordered to concentrate in Bathurst where they were afforded protection. This was deemed insufficient and on December 28
they were taken in an escorted convoy to Grahamstown. By the end of 1835, residents started to return. The Church was plundered and in a dilapidated state.
So a second, 200 seater Church was planned to be sited on the crown of Mount Mercy slightly higher than the first building. By 1837 a day school was in operation in the new Church, with Thomas Peel, of Trappes Valley, as Schoolmaster. In November, tenders were called for the erection of a School Master House, to be built adjacent to the Church for convenience.
Peace did not last long and in March 1846 the Seventh Frontier War or "War of the Axe" began. In April the Church became the Clumber Command Station with Thomas Cockroft as Commandant so rather than evacuating the surrounding farms, the Church became the refuge for women and children while the men were on reconnaissance duties.
Four years later in 1850 the Eighth Frontier War began, and during this time the base camp was established on Edward Timm's farm, Prospect, as it was situated on a more open site and was easier to defend than the Church. By January most Clumber people were in the camp, living in wagons or hastily erected wattle and daub huts.
After such heavy usage it became apparent that a third Church was needed and in July 1860 with Rev Purdon Smailes in the chair, it was passed that a church of 45 feet by 20 feet should be built. In July 1866 the foundation stone was finally laid by Mr George Wood MLC and prayers offered by Rev George Green. And so the building of the third church commenced. In August 1866 it was decided to incorporate a ten foot by six foot porch and a steeple.