The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

The Bible Hole

On December 19th 1891, the Bury Free Press newspaper reported the death of Bertie Clarke

A young man named Bertie Clarke of Stanstead formerly employed by Messrs Kole's hair factory at Glemsford has been missing for some days, his body has been found after a week's search on Wednesday in a piece of water which is called "Bible Hole," he left a memo behind stating "if you want to find me you will find me in the "Bible Hole".


So where was the 'Bible Hole'? 'Hole' is a Suffolk word meaning a deep section of the river. If it was at Stanstead, then it must have been in the Glem. Why call it the 'bible' hole? We all scratched our head at this until somebody remembered that the Baptists used to do their Baptisms in the river rather than in the artificial baths that can be seen in the Baptist chapels. Could there have been a 'Hole' in the river Glem near Stanstead where the local Baptists did their baptisms? The Particular Baptist Chapel in Glemsford was built in 1829, and by 1850 had a congregation of 350. One suspects it would have been use before the chapel was built. Stanstead had no chapel of its own, and one would imagine they would use the Glemsford chapel, as the Lawshall chapel, 'Baptist Barn', was even further.

We asked around amongst the oldest people in Glemsford, and nobody could remember a stretch of the river called the 'Bible Hole'. Then, suddenly to our rescue came the Glemsford Historian and Morris Dancer, Steve Clarke, who cleverly found the solution to the mystery

this appears in Tom Brown's study of the Dissenters in Glemsford.

The most regular Baptist Minister to preach at Glemsford from 1820 was Pastor Cornelius Elvin of Garland Street Baptist Church who preached in the open air using a farm wagon as a pulpit. His diary states at times he preached to a congregation of 3000 people at Glemsford. He also carried out baptisms in a specially dug pool by the River Glem at Scotchford Bridge at which he claims there were never less than 20 candidates, some almost 80 years of age, this in addition to those he baptised at Garland Street.

and a further note adds:

Pastor Elvin baptised a further 10 persons in the river at Glemsford on October 25th 1829. A bit late in the year for outdoor baptisms, but the candidates' enthusiasm evidently helped keep them warm. Mr Elvin was getting used to these by now.

According to Tom, no more outside baptisms took place after 1832, with the Ebenezer fully operational.

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