1In The Beginning
During the 1860's, spiritualism developed an active following in Belper, resulting in the formation of the Spiritualist Society in 1873. Organised meetings took place in an upper room of the property of Mr W P Adshead on Campbell Street, who was to later lay the foundation stone of the new church which was named Jubilee Hall, and built for the sum of £500, in honour of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
During the 20th century the
appearance and structure of the building has
remained relatively unchanged, but alterations have
been made to maintain and modernise it. The unique
ambience and history that is experienced upon
entering is emphasised by the striking sepia
photographs of the founders, leading figures and
past presidents which adorn the walls.
The early pioneers of spiritualism were totally dedicated to the movement. Indeed, Jubilee Hall was financed and provided by the generosity of Mrs Alfred Smedley, who was the wife of the founder president [a position he held till 1905] and owner of Smedley Iron Works in the town. He later wrote a fascinating book called Some Reminiscences, a first hand account of his experiences within spiritualism and of startling spirit manifestations witnessed by the author.
In 1889 the Pipe Organ was installed by George Benson and Son Organ Builders of Manchester, It is due to past Presidents, Mr A Smedley, Mr A Bodell, Mr F.W. Wheeldon and the late Mr G.H. Hawkins Organist from 1936 to 1993 who, at his own expense, maintained the Organ that we have this fine musical instument to accompany our Church Services today. Together with the stunning visual effect created by the organ which stands majestically at the head of the church, enabling services to be conducted with great reverence and tradition, including the choir, which is still going strong since it's inception.
It was a very special moment when the church was dedicated and officially opened by Emma Hardinge Britten in December 1887, an occasion which, to this day, gives a great sense of justifiable pride to all associated with the church. Mrs Britten remarked at the time that the new hall would soon "prove too small and have to be enlarged", which it was in 1899 with the installation of a new pipe organ by George Benson & Son of Manchester and the addition of choir stalls and chairs made locally by Wheeldon Brothers, doubling the original cost of the church to £1000!
It is the intention of the current President and the committee to treasure the past, honour the dedication and wisdom of it's pioneers and to place the church at the forefront in the future by providing a friendly welcome to all, regardless of religious persuasion; to embrace the true meaning and philosophy of spiritualism; to attract and encourage the best mediums from around the country onto it's rostrum resulting in more accurate and impressive demonstrations that validate life eternal [not to mention the provision of tea and biscuits afterwards].