British Unitarianism traces its roots to 1662 and the radical wing of the Protestant Reformation. In 1689, The Act of Toleration decriminalised worship other than in the Church of England, and many new places of worship opened immediately thereafter, many of which have since evolved into Unitarianism.
ln 1774, the first avowedly Unitarian congregation was convened in London on the site now occupied by the national Headquarters. Nazareth Unitarian Chapel was founded in 1806 by the followers of Joseph Cooke, a disaffected local Methodist preacher. Gradually, more and more dissenting congregations adopted a Unitarian theology and hence the name. From the first, freedom of conscience for the individual was insisted upon as a basic human right.
The name Unitarian originally came from the affirmation of the unity, rather than the orthodox creed of the trinity of God. Though that remains important, present day Unitarianism is much broader. It embraces the wisdom and truth of many religious and secular traditions, so that within a Unitarian congregation there is likely to be a broad range of theological and philosophical belief. We do not impose or demand conformity, but encourage individuals to develop their own faith in the spirit of free enquiry and within the context of religious community.