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Baptists in Bromham

Bromham Baptist Church March 2012
Bromham Baptist Church March 2012

Bromham Baptist church is surprisingly large for a village. Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has one probable registration relating to Baptists Bromham: the house of Samuel Hall was registered by Thomas Middleditch in 1832 [ABN1/2 and ABN3/3, 122]. Middleditch was active in registering meeting houses in the county and at least one of those he registered elsewhere was a Baptist meeting and so it seems reasonable to assume that this was one too. Voluntary registration of nonconformist meeting houses ceased in 1901.

On Sunday 30th March 1851 a census of all churches, chapels and preaching-houses of every denomination was undertaken in England and Wales. The local results were published by Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1975 as Volume 54, edited by D.W.Bushby. There is no return for any Baptist meeting in Bromham.

The former Baptist chapel in Bromham [X535/3]
The former baptist chapel in Bromham [X535/3]

The first purpose-built building erected for Baptist worship in Bromham was a timber-framed prefabricated structure opened in 1924 on a site purchased by Julius Rideout, who also owned 14 The Green. A scrapbook produced by the Women's Institute in 1956 [X535/3] stated: "In 1922 Mr. Rideout came to live at Moor End and started Baptist meetings in his own house [The Grange]. There was some difficulty in acquiring land for a site for a chapel, but eventually he was able to buy and give a piece of land in 1924".

Inside the former Baptist chapel [X535/3]
Inside the former Baptist chapel [X535/3]

The 1924 chapel remained until 1991 but was effectively replaced by a new chapel on the same site in 1966, designed by Bedford architects Deacon & Laing. In 1991 the present church was built around the 1966 structure with the 1924 building taken down for reuse in another parish. Professor Roger Rideout's book Bromham in Bedfordshire: A History published in 2002 has a good section on the Baptist Chapel as his grandfather Julius, as noted above, began the Baptist meeting in Bromham

Sadly Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has very little information about this important Baptist church in Bromham, having had no deposit of archives from the church itself. The service does have a marriage register, covering the period 1982-1995 [X674/7]. Otherwise it has correspondence about a proposed new church from the beginning of the Second World War [JN149] along with sketch plans [JN222]. In 1949 The National Register of Archives reported that two bundles of deeds dating from 1924 onwards are deposited with Baptist Church House in London.