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Bethel Free Grace Baptist Chapel Linslade

Bethel Free Grace Baptist Church New Road June 2008
Bethel Free Grace Baptist Church, New Road in June 2008

This handsome building stands in New Road. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has no records relating to the chapel other than a sheaf of some twenty five posters for services [X704/162]. The service does not have records of registrations of the chapel, as it does with other nonconformist chapels from the 18th to the early 20th century, because at the time Linslade was in Buckinghamshire and registration would have occurred at the Buckinghamshire Quarter Sessions or with the Archdeaconry of Buckingham. It is possible that the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies  has records.

Anniversary service poster 1964
Anniversary service poster 1964 [X704/162/5]

A history of the chapel may be found on a Clutch Club site assembled in conjunction with Greenleas Lower School. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is fortunate to have a history of Baptists in Leighton Buzzard written by H.G.Tibbutt in 1963 which has a section on the Bethel Chapel in Linslade. He notes that when the chapel was built in 1843 and cost £330 to build, having been erected through the generosity of M.D.Deverell of Soulbury [Buckinghamshire] it had sixteen members. The church gained some members from both Lake Street and Hockliffe Street Baptist churches in Leighton Buzzard. A note in the Linslade Church book noted that the Linslade Baptists had made "strenuous efforts to obtain the Meeting House in North Street, Leighton, belonging to Mr.Chew, but without success". The building was enlarged in 1853 and had its own burial ground.

By studying directories and census returns and consulting H.G.TIbbutt's booklet the following partial list of early ministers can be put together (dates being those of the first and last mention not the date the minister arrived at or left the meeting):

1850-1852: William Roberts;
1853-1856: Joseph Wilkins;
1856-1858: Benjamin Davies;
1860-1863: Joseph Willis;
1863-1879: John Lindsey;
1885-1894: Samuel Mitchenall;
1899-1901: Alfred James Grant.