THIS PAGE WAS PRINTED FROM THE TOUCH 2000 HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY IN TONBRIDGE WEBSITE
PLEASE VISIT http://history.touch2000.org.uk
Tonbridge Strict Baptists began their history as part of the old Independent Cause. However, in 1838, a number of people left the Independent Church and began services of their own in a hired room, later moving to a small school room. The congregation continued to grow and so a much larger building was hired in 1842 and a Strict Baptist Church formed on March 4th, 1845.
By 1856, a meeting house of their own was being sought because the hired rooms they had met in for the last 18 years were considered unsatisfactory. After discussions, Mr. Piper, a fellmonger, who owned property adjoining the Little Bridge on both sides of the High Street, offered to build a chapel in Bradford Street. The chapel was called Ebenezer Chapel and opened on June 8th, 1857.
The building, however, was not the property of the Church, who soon found that their tenure was far from secure. In 1866, the church was re-constituted and Mr. Piper, not a Strict Baptist himself, gave the church notice to leave the building, as he wished to turn it into an Independent place of worship. For more details about that church refer to the Ebenezer Chapel section.
At the time, two sisters, Miss Anne and Sophia Nye of Winchester Farm near Hadlow Stair, offered to build a chapel which would be the property of the church and was to be put in trust for the Strict Baptist denominations. This offer was gratefully accepted and the Zion Chapel was built in Pembury Road by Mr. Punnett, a local builder, and opened in 1867.
In both the Ebenezer and Zion Chapels, Mr. R. T. Clifford regularly ministered, until his death in 1878. The Reverend Henry Penfold of Aldershot accepted the Pastorate in 1880 and held it until 1902. He was followed by Mr. Frederick Russell, who remained there until his death in 1929. There was not another minister until Mr. F. J. Prickett came. He ministered between 1945 to 1959.
The present minister, Mr. Tim Field, is keen that children feel welcome at the church, which is now known as Pembury Road Baptist Chapel. It has an active Sunday School and organises outings from time to time, such as a visit to the Farm Park at Beckley in East Sussex (see below).
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