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Wiltshire Community History

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Baptist Church, Idmiston

Baptist Church, Idmiston Date Photo Taken 2012
Uploaded 06/01/2015 16:07:32
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Map Latitude 51.12587260566111 : Longitude -1.7339462041854858
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

Porton Baptist Chapel - front and side view.

Porton was one of the earliest Baptist centres in the county. On 3rd April 1655 a total of 111 people from many Wiltshire and Hampshire villages met there. Porton was probably chosen because it was some distance from any town and was the home of John Rede, J.P., an ex-Parliamentarian colonel and a prominent Baptist. Meetings were held in a large hall of his farmhouse, Birdlimes Farm. The congregation came from 20 villages and included Baptists from Salisbury. From the centre of Porton the churches gradually spread through the network of river valleys, with meetings held in a fixed rota of villages. The meeting ceased from 1660, the Restoration, until 1672 during which time persecution of non-conformists was at its height. After the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 meetings restarted and the house of John Rede was licensed for Anabaptist worship.

In 1690 Salisbury separated from Porton and by the time the Brown Street Baptist chapel was built in the city (1719), Porton was no longer the chief meeting place in this part of Wiltshire. In 1710 the headquarters of this 'county church' moved from Porton to Broughton in Hampshire and the Baptist church in Porton gradually declined. In the late 18th century two houses, that of William Cook in 1793 and John Hibberd in 1797, were licensed for Baptist worship. A new chapel was built in the High Street in 1865. Since the early years the private burial ground of John Rede had been used by the Baptists and it came into their ownership in 1870. The final burial took place there in 1897, and the chapel was enlarged in the 1920s. The church is still open, but in 2004 had only 9 members.

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