THEY may be small in number but they more than make up for it in fellowship and enthusiasm.

The congregation of Poole’s oldest church is celebrating its 350th anniversary with a whole range of activities from concerts to services and a quiz night.

The stately Georgian Grade II*-listed United Reformed Church in Skinner Street, with its beautiful interior including a balcony, was built in 1777 at a cost of £1,400 and is the only remaining 18th century church building in Poole.

However, it was by far from the first church to house the congregation. In 1662 the then Independent Chapel was in a small building in Hill Street – then called Hell Street – and the following year the Rev John Wesley, grandfather of the founders of Methodism, was made first minister.

By 1760 a new building had been put up in Leg Lane, now Lagland Street, which when the present building came into use 17 years later, was used as a day school.

Elder Kath Barrington, now 91, first went to the church when she was three and was a keen member of the Sunday School.

“It was pretty full in those days,” she said.

Sylvia Isgar, 75, said: “I can remember when the church was full. We had a Sunday School here in the war and had lots and lots of children. Every October they used to move up a class. I can’t believe it now.”

Upkeep of the magnificent listed building is expensive, not helped by two thefts of lead from the roof. But after a tussle with the ecclesiastical authorities, assistant secretary and elder Tricia Knapp, 59, said they received permission to put in a lead replacement.

“It’s worth fighting for,” she said. “I can’t tell the difference.”

The congregation, which can be up to 30-strong, supports children’s hospice Julia’s House, Marie Curie nurses, has strong links with Old Town First School and homelessness charity Routes to Roots has its base at the church.

Events to mark the milestone go on until December and a warm welcome will be extended to anyone who crosses the threshold.