The Bathford Society

Picture: High Street and the Baptist Chapel

Baptist Chapel

Bathford's Baptist chapel in High Street was built in 1839 on land conveyed in 1827 to trustees to provide for a meeting house for use for religious worship by Protestant dissenters of the denomination of Baptists. In addition, the trust deed envisaged extension to include a vestry room, a school room and a burial ground.

In March 1839 the plot of ground was assigned by John Watson, for the trustees, to the Reverend James Jackson who built the chapel at his own expense. It has a pitched roof and large round-headed windows each side of the entrance, above which in the gable end is the date 1839. Its accommodation includes a gallery approached by a staircase immediately inside the entrance. The furnishings include a baptistry dating from 1894, that is, a pool for the baptismal rite requiring total immersion.

One of the few memorial tablets on the walls is to the Reverend James Jackson who died in 1853. It records that 'After the building of this chapel he preached in it till laid aside by the affliction which ended his mortal career'. The chapel possesses a portrait of him in oils by J. Arrowsmith in 1836. He had been ordained in Wantage, Berkshire in 1817 and came to live in Bathford in 1838.

The chapel was granted a licence for dissenting religious worship by the bishop's court in Wells in August 1839. In 1841 the Reverend James Jackson assigned the land and the chapel, for the nominal sum of five shillings, to the chapel's trustees of whom he was one, for the term of one thousand years which was the term in the deed of 1827. The chapel was licensed for marriages in 1899 and the first marriage was solemnised in 1901. The chapel's property now also includes a garden entered from the High Street and also the adjoining cottage in Chapel Row and its garden, purchased in 1926.

The school building, which was sold in 1970, is situated in Dovers Lane, near the corner of Chapel Row and was built in 1849 as evidenced by this date carved on the gable above the doorway. Two of the school registers have survived. One records the attendance of teachers and pupils from January 1896 until December in the following year. The other records the attendance of pupils during 1912 and the next nine years, when there were about thirty-five children on the register. Much the same number attended the school through the 1930s.

The chapel building was sold in 2013/14 for use as a private dwelling.

Source: Bathford Past and Present
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