The building known as the ‘Old Temperance’ in Reeth has had a very varied history since it was first built in 1730.
Situated beside the village green in Reeth, in beautiful Swaledale, it has been a public house, a hotel, a baker’s shop, a band room, a licensed restaurant, a grocer’s shop and a tea room.
David Gregson, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, moved to Reeth 16 months ago after being minister at Little Hill Church, Wigston, Leicestershire, for over 15 years. He succeeded Rev. George Hemming as minister of Reeth Congregational Church (Evangelical).
The Old Temperance, situated only about 50 yards from the church, appeared to be the most suitable property at the time of the move and so they purchased it.
For over a year, the members of Reeth Congregational Church prayed about the possibility of opening a Christian bookshop in a spacious room on the ground floor of the Old Temperance.
Potential obstacles gradually disappeared – which to them was an evident token of God’s guidance in the matter.
Grace in winter
On Saturday 12 April, around 60 people from Evangelical churches as far away as Keswick and Beverley, gathered for the opening on the cobbles outside the Old Temperance.
Mrs Faith Cook had been invited to cut the ribbon, but first she explained how she started writing Christian books during a crisis period in her family and in her own life.
At that time, she found the letters of Samuel Rutherford a great encouragement. Unfortunately, her friends did not share her enthusiasm which, she concluded, was due to Rutherford’s quaint 17th-century expressions.
To help them, Mrs Cook started to reproduce a selection of these letters in verse and her husband, Rev. Paul Cook, suggested sending them to the Banner of Truth Trust.
These were later published under the title Grace in Winter, from Rutherford’s statement ‘Grace grows best in winter’. That had been Mrs Cook’s experience during her earlier crisis.
Since then she has written major biographies on William Grimshaw of Hawarth and Selina Countess of Huntingdon, together with several books containing a selection of shorter biographical sketches on Christians from past generations. The most recent of these, Lives turned upside down (Evangelical Press), is featured at the Old Temperance Bookshop.
At the opening ceremony, after the singing of ‘How good is the God we adore’, Mr Gregson read a section from Psalm 119. Mrs Gregson recounted how – under God’s guidance – the bookshop had become a reality. Then Mr Cook led the gathering in prayer.
The shop will be open on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1.30pm-4.00 pm and on Fridays (market day in Reeth) from 10.30am-4.00pm.
Swaledale is situated in the northern part of the Yorkshire Dales and on sunny days it is a place of stunning beauty – as can be sampled from the door of the Old Temperance. It attracts many tourists during a large part of the year.
Please pray with the members of Reeth Congregational Church that the new bookshop will prove a blessing to tourists but even more to the people of Reeth and Swaledale.
If readers of Evangelical Times are in the area, they are warmly invited to visit the Old Temperance Christian Bookshop. They would be a great encouragement to the members of Reeth Congregational Church.