How the Church Started
There are records of Baptists in the Minehead area as far back as 1656 when they worshipped at Stogumber (our mother Church). A meeting house was established in Minehead in 1760, and in 1817, with the kind permission of Lord King, a small Church was erected in Periton.
In 1831 the Chapel, on its present site, was built on leasehold land and cost £750; the lease eventually being bought 60 years later. The Periton Church was in use until about 1880 when the lease ran out.
In 1902 the Chapel was enlarged to its present size; and in 1992 we celebrated our 175th anniversary when the buildings were again modernised.
Some of our Church members have spent hours sorting out our Church records, which are now safely stored with an archivist in Taunton. However, before sending them off, a few notes were taken of what the records contained, here are some snippets;
Extract from Western Martyrology
In 1685. Persons executed, as implicated in the so called Monmouth Rebellion – some of whom were Baptists and others dissenters, by Judge Jeffreys.
At Minehead six persons, Robert James, Hugh Starke, Francis Bartlett, Peter Warren, Simon Hawkins, Richard Sweet. Three at Stogumber, three at Dunster, three at Dulverton, and two at Porlock.
4 April 1817
A new meeting house was opened at Periton for the use of Baptists, two men four women accustomed to meet in private homes for years past.
The borough of Minehead like the cities of Asia, once had the candle of the Lord in the midst of her and the glory of the Lord shone around her.
About 50 years since there were three dissenting places of worship in the town, one belonging to the Presbyterian denomination, one in the connection of Lady Huntington and one the property of the Quakers or Friends, but as these were built on lease hold ground, they successively fell into the lands of the Lord of the manor and were converted to other purposes, since which time the gospel has been only occasionally preached in private houses.
Minehead Baptist Church of six maintained this doctrine: the existence of one only, living and true God – three equal persons in the Godhead – eternal and personal election – original sin – particular redemption – free justification by the imparted righteousness of Christ – re-creation and sanctification by the spirit and grace of God – the moral law a rule of life to all believers – the final perseverance by true saints – the resurrection of the body to eternal life – the final judgement – the eternal happiness of the righteous and everlasting misery of those as die impatient – practising Baptism by immersion to such only as are arrived to the years of understanding upon their own confession of repentance towards God, and faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus.
Letter to Sir Thomas Acland re land for the chapel in The Parks. “rough weather prevented visit from a Mr Jay re building 26th Feb: and a plan to have a large lobby inside the door to keep the chapel warm.” From Richard Birmingham.
15 November 1832
A minute entered regarding “that we extremely regret that our beloved pastor Mr. John Cocks should be compelled to leave us and we believe the cause of his removal was the decided interest he took in the cause of civil and religious liberty, for this he was persecuted, both by the professors and open enemies of the cross of Christ and we bear testimony to his diligent, faithful and pious labours amongst us during 7 years and having been the instrument of erecting in Minehead a chapel and dwelling house for the minister.”
27 members and 26 communicants – 2 were appointed re a baptismal candidate to enquire whether the conduct of the lady is in harmony with the profession of faith she is making and to report to the church after the Lords Supper next Sunday.
1889 Extract from church report
The most regretful thing that has happened to us during the year has been the falling of in the attendance of our Sunday School. We are not in a position to cope with the strong outside influences which are brought to bear against us and for the present can only bend to the gale. Gales do not last forever and when it has spent itself things may be more favourable to us, so meanwhile we desire to trust in God in all things and to plod steadily in the path of duty knowing that Divine promises (with but few exceptions) are not of private interpretation, and in due season we shall reap is we faint not. Rev W.A.Hobbs pastor.
27 January 1890
Expenditure of last year £91 . 0 . 0. Income £83 . 14 . 0. It was proposed to have extra collections to cover the deficiency and to see what could be done increase the revenue by a system of weekly payments of those not paying at present.
14 October 1892
Sir Thomas Dyke Acland sold the freehold rights of the Baptist Chapel to the trustees, £74.8.0 given by 62 persons, an average of £1.4.0 each.
We are a very peaceable people, we do not snarl at, or backbite, or scandalise one another, or if so, it is done so secretly that it never comes to my ear. I have heard the opinion expressed that we are ‘a drowsy lot’.
June 1894 – W.B.A (Western Baptist Association) annual meeting at Minehead Baptist Church
From Monday p.m. to Wednesday p.m. hospitality was offered to delegates by other Christians, in Minehead 18, Wesleyans 16, and C.of.E 15.
Tuesday AM – Presidents address – SIN – SACRIFICE – SERVICE followed by a public dinner at which the new president spoke referring to the Queen and royal family and said there was no doubt as to the loyalty of the W.B.A …… while they were citizens of heaven they were also citizens on earth and as such accorded loyal feeling to the Queen and her government in every way and their prayer was that God might indeed save the Queen. There was applause and the national anthem was sung.
A resolution condemnatory of the Opium traffic was passed unanimously.
16 September 1897
Mr Sampson was requested to show visitors and occasional worshippers who have no appropriated sittings, into pews and make the necessary arrangements for receiving the offering on these occasions.
18 February 1903
The pastor delivered a lecture on the History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty from the time of the Reformation till the Disestablishment of the Irish Church.
4 March 1904
On this date five of our people were summoned to appear at Dunster Police Court for refusing to pay the education rate. Rev. Irvine – Mr and Mrs Holloway – Mr Parminster – Miss Short, under protest, while two others had distraint orders made against them in their absence. The Court refused to allow reasons for the refusal of the rate but were courteous to them, e.g. the chairman, Squire Luttrell – their conscientious objections to the law. An auction sale was held re. the five passive resistors on 29th April – raised over £9.
29 May 1904
Church members were invited to remain after the morning service. The Pastor brought forward the case of Jane Webber (baptised 1901) who was guilty of adultery and at present in the Williton Workhouse. After expressions of sorrow it was decided that we must withdraw the hand of Fellowship from our erring sister for the time being, with a view to repentance and hope to restoring her in a short time. Mrs Holloway and Mrs Clapp were duly appointed to see her and convey our feelings and the action we are compelled to take, and at the same time assuring her we will receive her back when she shows Godly sorrow for her sin.