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Wiltshire Community History

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Baptist Chapel, Chitterne

Baptist Chapel, Chitterne Date Photo Taken 2012
Uploaded 26/03/2015 17:11:31
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Map Latitude 51.19419775314207 : Longitude -2.011667490005493
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Original Media Location: Helen Taylor

Non-conformist meetings were held in Chitterne as early as the 18th century. George Grant (1753-1840) was a dedicated Baptist and attended meetings in Chitterne. In 1801 his own house, occupied by his son John, was licensed as a meeting house. Other houses were licensed in 1813 and 1819. By 1846 a chapel had been built in Chitterne by the Wesleyan Methodists, but it was not well supported and the chapel was given back to the Baptists.

In 1864, when all clergy were sent a list of Visitation Queries by the bishop, George Richards was the resident priest. He claimed that 500 people attended church each Sunday. He declared that there were very few non-conformists in the parish and that they were of 'no particular denomination, if any, probably Baptists'. Twenty years later the Chitterne Baptists agreed to be grouped with other churches at Shrewton and Tilshead and their numbers were increasing. In 1889 Frank Maidment and his wife Rose were baptised and Frank was asked to be a deacon. Later that year he presided over meetings and started taking services.

On 1st April 1903 a fire started in the thatched roof of the chapel. Unfortunately all of the building except the schoolroom was destroyed. During the summer services were held in Mr. Wallis's malthouse. Walter Long MP generously gave a piece of land for a new chapel. Comparisons of the 1901 25" Ordnance Survey map with the 1924 edition show that the building was on the same site as the old one, but had a slightly bigger footprint. The foundation stone was laid on 4th November 1903 and the new chapel opened the following spring. Numerous generous donations were received, ranging from 2s 6d given by a poor widow to the entire fittings from a chapel purchased by a director of Harrods.

Under the leadership of Frank Maidment the chapel continued to thrive. However, as the 20th century progressed, the congregation gradually became smaller. Mr. Maidment died in 1952, having served his community faithfully for 63 years.

The chapel had been built in front of a chalk hillside which unfortunately collapsed in 1969, which in turn caused the collapse of the retaining wall and damage to the chapel itself. The chapel closed around this time and was sold c.1978.

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