Strict Baptist Chapel

baptistIn October 1831 William Tiptaft, a well known Dissenter, came to give a public address at Stamford Assembly Rooms. This was arranged by Dr. J. G. de Merveilleux, a member of the Independent Chapel at the time. The address caused quite a stir, … ‘denouncing with no unsparing language the Church of England, the general Dissenters, etc.” Some people left the meeting, and some “audibly testified their disapprobation.”

This address inspired Dr. de Merveilleux to sever his connection with the Independents, and to build a chapel at his own expense. With difficulty, he bought a site in North Street on which to build, but had to keep quiet about his purpose. In 1834 the foundation stone was laid by William Tiptaft.

The chapel was enlarged in 1838 and a gallery added. The estimated cost to Dr. de Merveilleux by this time was £1,000. The first baptisings took place in 1839. The original baptistry is still under the floor in the old chapel; a large bath for full immersion.

In 1859 the North Street Chapel published The Articles of Faith and Rules of the Particular Baptist Church.  The name of the Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel needs some explanation nowadays. Strict is a shortened version of restricted, and indicates simply that communion was restricted to certain people. Particular refers to the particular redemption.

Dr. de Merveilleux died in 1843, and in 1863 the chapel passed from the de Merveilleux family to the trustees.

A new chapel was built at the North Street site in 1900, incorporating the north and west walls of the old chapel. This can be seen quite clearly on North Street car park, looking at the west wall. The year 2000 is thus the centenary year of the present chapel.

The shell at the top of the facade may be interpreted as an early Christian symbol. When the architect asked what he should put at the apex, he was apparently told “anything but a cross.”