We get asked this question a lot! The word 'Free' simply refers to the fact that the original members of our church broke away from the local Anglican Church and were not under Church of England control.
For more than 30 years, up until 1865, the local Anglican church in Calne had an evangelical vicar, the Rev. Canon Guthrie. That means he taught faithfully what the Bible says. His successor, the Rev. Duncan, offered a high church ministry that some members of the congregation found unacceptable. Some 80 or more parishioners, led by members of the Harris family, left the parish church.
At first, by permission of the mayor, the group held services in the town hall, which was licensed for worship. On October 29th, 1867, the foundation stone for a new church was laid. The building work was completed on July 28th, 1868. The church was built in the Geometic style, and the architect was W.J. Stent.
The new church had between 200 and 300 members. At first the Anglican liturgy was used, but services were later held on more nonconformist lines. In the 1940s, there were some non-liturgical services, and in the 1950s the liturgy was abandoned altogether. The church has an evangelical ministry.
The Church is a Grade II listed building. (English Heritage Building ID: 456696)
Before the church was completed, a schoolroom was built behind the main building and opened as the British Schools on January 7th, 1868. There was both a elementary boys' and girls' school, shown here, and an infants' school. By 1876 there were 153 pupils altogether.
Numbers rose towards the end of the century and by 1910 there were around 200, although this dropped to around 175 in 1919. The infants' school closed in 1922 and by 1927 there were 70 pupils in the elementary school. The school closed in 1930 and pupils were transferred to the newly formed Calne Junior School, with older pupils going to the Calne County Secondary School.
When the school was closed, its building became the church hall. The interior was renovated in 1966-7.