The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Schisms in Glemsford

Steve Clarke has spotted a mistake in the captioning of one of the photographs of a Glemsford chapel. Glemsford has a large collection of Nonconformist chapels. Some are still being used, but others have, sadly, gone out of use. To quote from Kenneth Glass's guide

"In 1828 Bbenezer Baptist Chapel was built in Egremont Street and opened in 1829, and through the years they maintained a strong Christian witness. They also were able to support their own ministers, Mr, A. J. Ward was Pastor in the late 1800's and the last, Pastor Laver, resigned in 1945, The sad dispute which troubled the Baptist denomination in the 1850's had its repercussions in Glemsford and In 1859 Providence Chapel in Hunts Hill was opened. Both Churches flourished whilst Glemsford was prosperous with a large population but grew less strong as the village declined and Providence Chapel is now closed and disused. A branch of the Long Melford Congregational Church was formed in Glemsford about this period and they built a small chapel off Egremont Street, It is interesting to record that the Congregationalists used the Chapel for a fortnightly midweek service on a Thursday, and rented the Chapel to a company of Methodists for use on Sundays. The Chapel was known as "Renters Chapel" for this reason. During the first World far the Congregationalist cause was revived and flourished again for a number of years, but the Chapel is now closed and used as a store. The company of Methodists mentioned above were a church of Primitive Methodists in the Sudbury Circuit and in 1914 they decided to build the present Chapel at a cost of £495, and it was opened on Whit Monday 1915; it has seating for 300 and useful Sunday School hall and vestries After the Union of Methodist Churches in 1934 it continued in the Sudbury circuit and remains today the most flourishing nonconformist church. Members of the Plymouth Brethren have a meeting place in Egremont Street and although small in number their influence in Christian witness has been felt in the village. "

There must have been some friction at times between the various chapels and at one point, in March 1829, this piece accidentally slipped into the paper, written by one of the hot-heads

Our Glemsford correspondent says that several places in the neighbourhood, Chapels for Baptists and Independents have occassioned a schism and a Meeting House was erected in opposition to the old Meeting House, the erectors of the Meeting House refuse to continue in fellowship. The officiating preacher announced himself a Baptist. Here is the begining of heresy, the Sunday previous to the commencement of service the place was taken into possession of the Independents and the doors were locked and entrance refused but the place was besieged by the Baptists who broke open the doors and took possession, I think you will agree such spirit does not savour of Christianity.

This story must have led to a number of complaints because, on March 25th 1829, came the following apology

We confess we acted unwisely in publishing the dispute at Glemsford among dissenters, we cannot make our paper a vehicle between rival parties


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