Rev Winifred Elsie May Brown (1919-2015) was born in Bradford. She became the first woman church minister in Ipswich in 1943, when appointed by the Ipswich Unitarian congregation.
Although most churches only allowed male ministers at that time, she was the 19th female Unitarian minister in the country. Winifred Brown was a graduate of Somerville College, Oxford (BA and MA) and had completed ministerial training at Manchester College, Oxford. Her decision to become a Unitarian minister was its teachings and ‘lack of dogma'.
She took up her post in Ipswich, when the pulpit became vacant in 1943. She joined a congregation which had experienced dissention between its members. Rev Winifred Brown was 24 at the time, and the task of unifying a divided congregation was a difficult one. She remained a minister for 3 years and then went on to teach English at Rawlins Grammar School, Quorn, Leics. In 1950 her book The Polished Shaft on 18th century Christian writers was published. Winifred Brown continued to be actively involved in the Unitarian Congregation in Loughborough for many years.
The 300 year-old Unitarian Meeting House is considered the finest Dissenting meeting house in the country. It is open to the public at set times during the summer months.
Sources: Cliff Reed A Suffolk Tabernacle, The Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House, 1997. www.unitarianipswich.org.uk
The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.