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Cauldwell Street Baptist Church Bedford

Cauldwell Street Baptist Church in 1862
Cauldwell Street Baptist Church in 1862 [Z50/9/413]

Cauldwell Street was an odd place in the 19th century – it boasted at thirteen licensed premises in 1890 but also two chapels. The oldest nonconformist presence in the street was the Baptists.  The Builder of 22nd February 1862 (page 136), noted that a Baptist chapel had been built to John Usher’s designs by Reynolds and Son, builders.

In 1791 Francis Green, coal merchant, had purchased Water Close, which, two hundred and fifty years before, had been part of the estates of Cauldwell Priory. [CCE2744/20]. In 1857 his daughter-in-law, Mary Green contracted to sell 3,040 “superficial feet” on the north side of Cauldwell Street and forming part of Water Close, to John Usher for £152 [CCE2744/21].

 The Baptist Chapel shown in blue on this map of 1901
The Baptist Chapel shown in blue on this map of 1901

In June of 1862 Mrs. Green and John Usher conveyed 4,560 superficial feet to the trustees of the newly built Baptist chapel – the plot was described as being bounded north or north-west by a private road of twelve feet width laid out by Mary Green, south or south-east and north or north-east by other parts of Mary Green’s close and west or south-west by land of the representatives of the late Mr. Preston. The plot had a frontage of 38 feet and a depth of 120 feet and included the chapel built upon it [CCE2744/22]. A plan on the deed makes it clear that this was substantially the same piece of land as that contracted to be sold to John Usher in 1857. He then sold it on to the trustees for the same price at which he had bought it from Mary Green, indicating that he was acting as agent for the Baptists who had commissioned him to build them a chapel.

 The site of the Baptist Church - left of shot - in July 2008
The site of the Baptist Church - left of shot - in July 2008

The Baptist trustees named in this deed were: Joseph Hansey, draper; Joseph Sturges, grocer; Nathaniel Sturges, draper; Harry Jones, baker; Jabez Whiting, foundryman; James Brown, stonemason and James Trustram, organist, all from Bedford, and Robert Frazer of Blunham, Baptist minister, William Wilson of Riseley, Baptist minister and Samuel Smith of Elstow, baker. The trustees immediately mortgaged the chapel to one John Horrell for £400. In 1876 the surviving trustees sold the chapel to the Primitive Methodists for £600 [CCE2744/25].