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Wiltshire Community History

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Emmanuel Baptist Church, Trowbridge

Emmanuel Baptist Church, Trowbridge Date Photo Taken 2002
Uploaded 25/10/2007 08:29:35
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

In 1736 members of the Conigre chapel who didn't like the Arianism prevalent there seceded and formed a Particular Baptist community. They first met at Studley but moved to the house of a Mrs Thresher, on the site of the town hall, in 1743. The first permenant pastor was in office in 1752 and in 1754 a chapel was erected in Back (now Church) Street. Services were first held here in 1755 and a vestry was added in 1766. One distinguished minister, Nathaniel Rawlings, (1765-1771 and 1778-1809) planted a Baptist colony at Hilperton and enlarged the Back Street chapel in 1784 to accommodate the growing congregation. Around 1812 the chapel was enlarged again. In 1814 a group seceded to form the Zion chapel in Union Street and in 1821 another group started the Bethesda chapel in Court Street. Despite this the congregation still numbered 700 in 1829.

The chapel was again extended in 1846, paid for by the factory owner Samuel Salter, and was enlarged a further three times by 1890, by which time the present plain square building had been created. As with other local churches the graveyard was closed in 1856. In 1799 a boys' Sunday school was established and c.1820 a girls' school was set up in various accommodation in the town. In 1822 a dedicated schoolroom for both was built behind the chapel, but soon proved too small. Samuel Salter gave land for a 'Boys' Room' which opened in 1875. In 1885 the girls' schoolroom was replaced by a new building, largely paid for by John Stancomb. In 1890 there were 588 pupils and a lending library. The church has continued to thrive through the 20th century. The schoolroom adjacent to the chapel is pictured here.

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