Gloucestershire Places of Worship

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Broadmead Baptist Church, Bristol
Broadmead Baptist Church (link to Church's website)
Union Street, BS1 3HY,
Bristol, Gloucestershire.

Cemeteries

This Church has (or had) a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded in 1671, and we understand it is still open.

"The Baptist Chapel, Broadmead, is one of the oldest in the city, having been founded as early as 1671." [Extract from Webster & Co.'s Postal and Commercial Directory of the City of Bristol, and County of Glamorgan, 1865]

Much has been written about the establishment of its congregation - it certainly has a colourful history. According to Non-Conformist Chapels and Meeting Houses, Gloucestershire (1986), the church "originated about 1640 as an Independent society, becoming Baptists in 1653". One of the original dissenters was Dorothy Hazzard, whose name is recorded on the Bristol Tapestry for her role in helping to defend the City against the Royalists during the Civil War. She was the wife of Matthew Hazzard, incumbent of St Ewen's.

The dates of 1640, as "locally notable for its record of the first open secession from the Church of England" is recorded by John Latimer, in his Annals of Bristol in the Seventeenth Century (1900) on pp.150-1. And in 1652 (p.234), the earliest mention of a Baptist congregation in the city, when members of the original dissenting body had separated after "divers of the church were baptised in a river" - probably the Froom... He does however dispute a widely held notion that "the new secession left its mark in the name Baptist Mills, where a wholesale immersion took place in January, 1667", as he mentions a Map of 1609 on which the name appears, and "there can be no question that it is identical with the Bagpaths Mill mentioned by William Worcester about 1480".

The following years were troubled for dissenters. We learn from The records of a Church of Christ meeting in Broadmead, Bristol, 1640-1687 (1847) - a chronicle begun by Edward Terrill in 1672 - that meetings of groups of dissenters were frequently broken up by the authorities, and their members imprisoned. For example, in 1667 - "we again take another public meeting-place, upon the seventh day of the eighth month... at the Whitson Court, of brother Ellis, whereto he had of late removed his habitation... it being a large warehouse, up one pair of stairs, which our said brother Ellis had made very commodious for the use of the congregation"; and in 1671, after being driven out of Whitson Court, "we took the meeting-house at the lower end of Broadmead, where the heretics called quakers had formerly used to meet; it being four great rooms made into one square room, about sixteen yards long, and fifteen yards broad, which we took the 12th day of the sixth month, and fitted it up against the 20th day of the said sixth month, August, anno 1671, which was the first Lord's day we met in it".

This was to be their permanent home, as although the premises have been renovated, rebuilt, and modernised, the Church has stayed at this location ever since. The most significant change occurred in recent years, when a new development of shops and offices incorporated a meeting-house on its upper floors, leading to its present alias of "The Church Above the Shops". There is a photograph of it prior to this on Paul Townsend's Flikr photostream.

Incidentally, a "Broadmead chapel yard" is listed on a webpage on Local Burials available on the Bristol & Avon FHS website, but this is not shown on Old Maps. Broadmead Baptist and the Pithay Baptist Chapel did however purchase jointly a plot of land in Red Cross Street for burials in 1679, so a yard by the chapel may never have been very large.

Denomination

Now or formerly Baptist.

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.

Maps

This Church is located at OS grid reference ST5899873340. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:

Reference

  • Places recorded by the Registrar General under the provisions of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (2010) is available as a "Freedom of Information" document from the website What Do They Know.
Last updated on 16 Jun 2013 at 12:53.

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This Report was created 27 Jul 2017 - 20:37:34 BST from information held in the Gloucestershire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 4 Jul 2017 at 10:50.

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