Gloucestershire Places of Worship

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Pithay Baptist Chapel (Demolished), Bristol
Pithay Baptist Chapel (Demolished),
Bristol, Gloucestershire.


This Chapel 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 after 1640, but we understand it was closed in 1861.

"The most ancient dissenting place of worship is the Pithay Chapel, which was built in the year 1650 by a few Baptists who had seceded from the Established Church. In the course of time, the congregation becoming too large for the building, a more commodious chapel was erected for the purpose in King-street." [Extract from Webster & Co.'s Postal and Commercial Directory of the City of Bristol, and County of Glamorgan, 1865]

The Pithay Chapel shares its early history with that of the several early dissenting congregations in the city. John Latimer, in his Annals of Bristol in the Seventeenth Century (1900), cites 1640 as the first open secession from the Church of England, and the foundation of a Baptist congregation in the City by 1652, when members of the original dissenting body had separated, after "divers of the church were baptised in a river" - probably the Froom... However The records of a Church of Christ meeting in Broadmead, Bristol, 1640-1687 (1847) - a chronicle begun by Edward Terrill, a founder member of Broadmead Baptist in 1672 - presume that the Pithay church was founded 'soon after Mr. [John] Canne's visit to Bristol', which is documented as occurring in 1640.

Non-Conformist Chapels and Meeting Houses, Gloucestershire (1986) records that in 1679 the Pithay Baptist congregation purchased land in Redcross Street jointly with the Broadmead [Baptist] Church, for a burial ground. And about 1699, a 'sope house' at the Pithay was converted to a meeting-house. Phil Draper, on his ChurchCrawler website provides the further information that the meeting house in the Pithay was rebuilt in 1791-2 as it had become too small, but when in turn, it was no longer big enough, a new church was built "on a new site in Old King Street in 1815, where the church had earlier founded a school". This was opened in 1817.

The Pithay Chapel gained a new lease of life with the arrival of the Rev. Evan Probert, in 1834. A short biography, on the Baptist History Homepage website describes his arrival at the Pithay, and his first sermon on Christmas Day that year to "forty members, who had left the church in Counterslip, which had many years before gone out of the Old Pithay". He pioneered the movement for a new chapel, towards which "Mr. Probert, by his individual efforts, collected over £2,000", and when "the commodious chapel in City Road was opened September 11th, 1861... in it Mr. Probert laboured till his departure to his rest".

The Old Pithay Chapel was afterwards purchased by the church, then under the care of the Rev. James Davis, for about £800. There is a sketch of the building in the Loxton Collection in the Bristol Reference Library (E413), for which see Bristol - Pinpoint Local Information. It shows a three-bay three-storey building with a central double doorway, having sash windows in the left and central bay. The rightmost bay appears to have been added at a later date, as it is without windows, and has its own sloping roof. A plaque above the doorway reads "Baptist Meeting 1655". As indicated above, it was replaced by Old King Street Baptist Church (#1336), which in turn was superseded by Cairns Road Baptist (#1445), for which see elsewhere in this database.

Note: The 'sope house' [soap house] in the Pithay may have been a casualty of restrictions imposed by King Charles I on the manufacture of soap. "In July, 1634, proclamation was made in Bristol that the King forbade the making of soap for private domestic use, and prohibited the importation of foreign, Irish, or Scotch soap. Bristol had then enjoyed a great repute for its soap for four hundred years, and the soapmakers were numerous and their business extensive when this monopoly was created... Londoners maintained spies in the city who constantly harassed the industry. In May, 1637, twelve Bristol soapmakers were lying in the Fleet prison for non-payment of the extra tax levied by the Crown". [John Latimer, Seventeenth Century Annals of Bristol (1900) pp.121-2]


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.


This Chapel was located at OS grid reference ST5897973172. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:


I have found many websites of use whilst compiling the information for this database. Here are some which deserve mention as being of special interest for Bristol, and perhaps to Local History and Places of Worship as a whole.

The above links were selected and reviewed at the time I prepared the information, but please be aware their content may vary, or disappear entirely. These factors are outside my control.

Information last updated on 25 Feb 2014 at 13:36.

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This Report was created 19 Aug 2022 - 08:34:05 BST from information held in the Gloucestershire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 13 Oct 2021 at 14:13.

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