Old Book

Church History

Baptist meetings were first held in Stratford in 1826 in a home at the back of the High Street. In 1832 it was decided to move forward with the construction of a church building and permission was granted to build on Payton Street as part of a new development area just to the east of the town centre. Work started on the building in 1832 and it was completed in 1835. The building was constructed in a simple Greek Revival style with a Doric portico and unfluted columns being significant features.

 

The first service to be held in the building was on 15th June 1836. Services have been held ever since that date. The first minister was the Rev. James Todd who was appointed in 1837. The longest serving minister was the Rev. FC Watts from 1896 to 1929, a period of 33 years.

 

A school hall was built adjacent to the main sanctuary in 1861 and was used for teaching local children. Further additions to the buildings subsequently took place as the congregation grew in size. On 7th June 1864 the great Baptist preacher, CH Spurgeon, visited Stratford. The meeting, which was held at a local bowling green, was attended by around 2000 people.

Due to its architectural significance the building was registered as Grade II Listed in 1972. In the mid 1990’s the church undertook a major refurbishment when a number of the older rooms were replaced or upgraded. At this time the former Brethren Chapel adjacent to the school hall was purchased which provided additional space for church activities. This is now known as the Welcombe Hall.

 

The present minister, the Rev. Amanda Rhodes, took up her ministry in September 2019 and is the twenty sixth minister to serve the church. The current fellowship, like all those Christians who have met in the building since 1835, continue to be open to the Lord’s leading for his work in the town of Stratford.