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Wiltshire Community History

Baptist Chapel, North Bradley

A large number of people from North Bradley would have been members of the Baptist meeting, in the mid 17th century, that eventually settled in the Baptist chapel at Southwick. The early meetings during the times of persecution were held in Witch Pit Wood on the Cutteridge estate, under the protection of William Trenchard. Later they attended the chapel at Southwick but it is believed that there was a group meeting at North Bradley. This is borne out by 2 meeting house certificates; in July 1689 a newly built house belonging to Richard Greenhill was licensed for meetings while in December 1709 'a house lately erected on part of a close' belonging to John Millard was licensed. The first known congregation began meeting in the house, believed to be Willow Grove, of George Batchelor, a farmer, in 1768. The prayer meetings were Wesleyan at first but it was later arranged for Robert Marshman, Baptist minister st Westbury Leigh, to preach. Batchelor fitted out a room for 100 people and the church became formally established in 1775.

Work started on building a chapel in 1779 and this was dedicated and opened on Easter Tuesday 1780, with Robert Marshman preaching the opening sermon. The chapel was in plain brick with stone quoins. Congregation numbers increased and a gallery was built over the front entrance in 1796, the chapel was lengthened at the back for another gallery in 1803, and widened at one side to increase the width by a third in 1831.During the 19th century adult baptisms took place across the fields in the river Biss with crowds of up to 2,000 attending. The bridge at this site is still known as 'The Baptising'. A Sunday School began in a separate room in 1825 while in 1836 a series of services were introduced to counteract North Bradley Fair, the village revel that took place on Bradley Common at Michaelmas. The congregation continued to increase and in 1851 there were 240 at evening service and 135 children attending Sunday School. This led to the chapel being re-modelled and enlarged and a new schoolroom built at the back in 1852. The house called Lime Villa was bought as a manse in 1869 while the chapel received a new roof and organ in 1887. The chapel enjoyed much success in the late 19th century and in 1896 a new manse was built at a cost of £500.

Membership peaked in 1901 at 185 and many of these wanted a new chapel nearer the road so that aged members did not have so far to walk. This did not happen then and instead the interior was altered and a baptistry installed in 1911, thus ending baptisms in the river. By 1915 there were 126 members and 65 Sunday School children. From 1932 this became a joint pastorate with Southwick, which lasted until the late 1950s. In 1961 a new chapel was built between the site of the old one and the main road. This was designed by T.W. Snailum with concrete framing and was in brick with stone dressings. The pulpit, dais rail and some pews from the old chapel were installed. The chapel, with a schoolroom, vestry and kitchen at the back, could accommodate 150 people and was opened on 25th November 1961. It cost £16,663, which was raised despite falling membership numbers. The old chapel was demolished. From 1964 this was a joint pastorate with Beckington and in 1980 a new manse was built alongside the chapel.

Church Search Results

There were 6 items found.

Baptist Chapel, North Bradley
Baptist Chapel, North Bradley

Image Date: 1961
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Baptist Chapel, North Bradley
Baptist Chapel, North Bradley

Image Date: 1962
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Baptist Chapel, North Bradley
Baptist Chapel, North Bradley

Image Date: 2004
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Baptist Chapel, North Bradley
Baptist Chapel, North Bradley

Image Date: 2004
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Baptist Chapel, North Bradley
Baptist Chapel, North Bradley

Image Date: 2004
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


Baptist Chapel, North Bradley
Baptist Chapel, North Bradley

Image Date: c.1903
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham


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