Gainsborough URC

The church was built in 1897 as a memorial to John Robinson who was known as the 'pastor to the Pilgrim Fathers'.

About this church

The generally accepted date for the formation of the early Separatist church in Gainsborough is 1602. John Smyth (or Smith) became its minister after finally separating from the Church of England in 1605.

Many Gainsborough Separatists emigrated by boat in 1607 and settled in Amsterdam, but the parish registers still show the deaths of local Separatists in 1614, 1630 and 1655. In 1672 the house of Matthew Coats was licensed for worship but its whereabouts are unknown. In 1688 Matthew Coats conveyed to trustees a Chapel in Ratten Row (later Beaumont Street) Gainsborough for ‘such Protestant Dissenters persons or people to meet assemble and worship God under the name of Congregational, Independent or Presbyterian.’ This became fully Unitarian in 1844.

The present church was built in 1896/97. The sanctuary is a fine example of late Victorian free church architecture and is set within the town’s central Conservation Area. The Conservation Area includes The Old Hall, a 15th century manor house, and All Saints parish church which we adjoin.

The church was erected as a memorial to John Robinson, sometimes known as ‘the Pastor to the Pilgrim Fathers’. He was born nearby at Sturton le Steeple in 1575 or 1576. He was hugely instrumental in preparing for the voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers, a group of Separatists, who settled in Plymouth Colony in the USA in 1620.

A particular feature of the sanctuary is the fine pipe organ which has been awarded a Historic Organ Certificate as an instrument of national heritage importance.

As one of five 'Pilgrim Churches' in the area we are involved in preparations for the 400th anniversary of the departure of The Mayflower in 2020.

Key Features

  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Accessible toilets in church
  • Café in church
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

Other nearby churches


All Saints

A very different Georgian style church with medieval tower and a magnificent interior, the altar piece is a copy of the Da Vinci painting of the Last Supper.

Friends Meeting House

A touchingly simple building dating from 1704, with a few later additions, it remains simple but with a powerful feeling of history, of prayer and of silence.

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