Records dating from November 1840 state that “attempts had been made to introduce the gospel into Helmdon, containing above 1000 inhabitants, but such was the sad moral condition of the inhabitants that this met with violent opposition. It was however considered advisable to procure a piece of ground and erect a chapel”.
The Baptist Chapel in the 1990s.
Seventeen churches of the county contributed to the cost and the building opened for public worship on 8th June 1841. A congregation of about 200 persons gathered.
A Sunday school room was added in the early 1950’s. It was built by Jack Hermon of Kings Sutton and included wall plaques with the names of the scholars at that time. The room was also used for Tiny Tots group and as a village meeting place. A kitchen and toilets were added in the 1970’s.
The chapel was used for regular worship and in 1970 had a regular congregation of around 20.
As a result of subsidence in the early 1990’s part of the structure was underpinned. During a service in 2004, the congregation in the mezzanine gallery reported structural movement. An expert report was commissioned which concluded that the building “had broken its back” and was in need of major structural repair. Estimates were obtained for the work but the cost was prohibitive and the decision was taken to cease using the chapel.
In 2005 a final service of celebration was held attended by past ministers and past members of the congregation after which the building was abandoned and fell into general disrepair. The members of the congregation decided to attend Weston chapel.
The Baptist Chapel today.
After considering all the options available, the site was sold for redevelopment and the purchaser obtained planning permission for conversion to a five bedroom property with off road car parking. The conversion included the shortening of the building, raising of the roof and the removal of the small burial ground.
The majority of the school room plaques were removed and offered to the appropriate families. A large commemorative plaque from the school room has been incorporated into the internal decor of the new property.
Redevelopment of the former Helmdon Baptist Chapel in Wappenham Road is now complete (2015).
with thanks to Rosemary Gulliver for her help