Bennetts End Reformed Baptist Church in Hemel Hempstead | The Holy Bible and The TV Guide
The History of
God's Church here
1818 - 2017
all of God's Grace
about August 1720 to 1890 Baptists as a percentage of the
population exceeded 10% in this part of Hertfordshire England,
according to “A history of the Hertfordshire Baptists” by DR
Watts (1978). From about 1800 the population in the Two Waters, Frogmore and Apsley area was increasing due in part to the
expanding production of the mechanised paper mills in Nash
Mill (see picture below).
was why two Baptist Chapels were founded in the Boxmoor area in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.
One of these was on the London Road (between Stratford way
and Russell Place), built in 1825 and closely associated
with the family of the famous Missionary, William Carey,
after whom the Baptist Church in the Marlowes is now named.
The other, Salem Baptist Church was
formed in 1817 and the building was erected in Featherbed Lane.
In 1818 it became known as Salem Strict Baptist Chapel and was
associated with the Strict and Particular Baptist Churches.
Above is the 1894 Sunday School register.
We have many register records containing the names of attendees
through the many years. Which makes for an interesting
earliest record of Salem Baptist Church is the piece of Land
on which Salem stands, this was bought from Mr Henry Gold
on June 24th 1818. This was to permit the meeting house and
adjoining vestry to be used as a place of public religious
service and worship by the Protestant Dissenters at Two Waters,
Hemel Hempstead, belonging to the denomination called Particular
Later a mortgage of 10th February 1836 was for Land, Chapel and
in the name of
J Waller. In 1850 a trust was founded for the meeting place
with integral vestry.
By 1851 Census figures, as
quoted in the History of Hemel Hempstead, show the local
Baptist Churches attendance figures as:
Hemel Hempstead R&C Yard
Salem Baptist Church
William Upton Survey
Salem Baptist Church:
Accommodation 150, 3 Sunday Services, Attendance 100
Wm. Foxell, Minister,
officers Jas Tolley, William Budd, John Powling, William Frances,
G Gristwood. JNO Waller Deacon William Ewer, Boxmoor.
The picture below is the
centenary service with special services on Wednesday August
28th, 1918, and a report from Charles Reynolds, (Deacon)
appeared in the “Christian Pathway”. Mr J Booth of Bradford
preached sermons in the morning, afternoon and evening. “Many
friends from surrounding causes were present Including Mr
Beasley of Gower Street London and the Chapel was packed to
overflowing. Luncheon and tea were provided”.
Pastor Burrage (Salem Church's Pastor) -
Baptist Chapel – Two
Waters - Centenary Services August 28th 1918, Ministers and
Officers of the Church:
Pastor John Saunderson was
connected to the Church for over 55 years. He was 12 years old
when he joined the Church in 1932, at which time attendance was
quite good at Sunday Services and weeknight prayer meetings. He
worshiped there with his parents and was baptised in 1939, the
year the Second World War began. After serving in the 2nd Beds
and Herts Regiment he returned and was for many years a Sunday
The 1950's were very encouraging
years spiritually and numerically, with 50-60 children attending Sunday school. In June 1956
Mr Boxal, a lay preacher, became Pastor and served for 7 years.
Prior to that deacons had led the work and were supported by
In 1963 John Saunderson became
pastor. Under his ministry the Church flourished. June
15th 1968 marked 150 years of the work and it's witness. The
guest speaker was the General Secretary of the Association of
the Strict Baptist Churches. Pastor Saunderson's ministry continued until his health no
longer enabled him - he retired in 1987. The Church had always
maintained a commitment to the Authorised Version of the Bible,
the singing of Psalms and sound Christian Hymns in an atmosphere
of reverent worship.
Salem Chapel on
Featherbed Lane, Hemel Hempstead
Picture taken June 2013
After Pastor John Saunderson retired, a much younger man who
had just completed theological studies began to lead the work on 24th
September 1988, but not as the pastor. The young man was a member of
nearby Newtown Evangelical Church, Chesham. Under his leadership, the
Church Bible Version was changed from the Authorised Version, to
the NKJV and then again to
Gradually attendance on Sundays decreased
to just a few people. In a campaign to increase numbers a few Christians
from the Church in Chesham, and other churches came to
assist him in various ways with the work, but despite these efforts numbers did not increase.
He continued to lead Salem Baptist Chapel for a
further two years until November 25th 1990 when the final
service took place that Sunday morning, ending the 172 years of
Salem Baptist Church's witness in the area.
Under his leadership, the
Salem Chapel was sold, and the monies put
into Trust. Unfortunately, property value was very low at the time and
so little was obtained from the sale. The Church received
£47,691 for the Chapel and
property. A charismatic Church have
continued to meet in the Church Chapel ever since.
After the sale of the above Church
building, further trust funds were granted
to the remaining members from the closed Bethel Baptist Church, in St Albans.
The combined capital of the two Churches were granted to
a continuing relocated work known as the “Belswains Evangelical Fellowship”
just 3/4 mile away from the Chapel which it once used to meet in.
The meetings began in homes in
Bennetts End, then moved to Belswains Primary School and
then to the Bennetts
End Community Centre where we now meet.
In June 1994 the Church formed as
"Bennetts End Evangelical Baptist Church" on that occasion
the above mentioned gentleman,
took charge as the Church Pastor.
Over the next four years membership decreased to
just a few people and so he laid down the pastorate
in August 1998.
After his departure and at the
Church's request, the last remaining Church Deacon, Mr Chalan Hetherington agreed to accept the responsibility to lead the work until the
called a Pastor.
Over time the Bible Version
back from the NIV to the Authorised Version and the Church also
replaced the chorus book with the formerly used old "Gospel Hymns"
hymn book (a Strict and
Particular Baptist Hymn Book) and "Psalms and Hymns of Reformed
Worship" hymn book, these are used alongside the original "Christian Hymns"
The Church also then began
holding both services at the Community Centre which were once held in
homes. Later a new afternoon Sunday School commenced, and later
the twice, weekly
Open Air Gospel preaching in Hemel Hempstead town centre was
On March 16th 2003 the Church recognised
the Lord's equipping and gifting of Mr Hetherington as elder and
then on January 20th 2009 the
called him to be the Church Pastor.
We still have not been able to
replace our long lost Church Chapel, and property values have
escalated dramatically since. In September 2013 we began
purchasing the old Salem Chapel back with the new owners.
Please pray for this.
In October 2013 the Church unanimously came
to the conclusion that it had
to withdraw from the Association of Grace Baptist Churches.
We have much to be thankful for in
God preserving us during some very difficult times and we praise God, the
Church is of one heart and mind. The Church members remain very
committed to the work.
We can also draw great
encouragement from the things that the Lord is presently doing
amongst us. The Lord has saved people and added them to His
here. We are seeing Christians grow in the grace and the knowledge of
the Lord Jesus Christ, and in love for one
another. We pray that the Lord will raise godly Deacons to assist our
Pastor in the leadership.
In the year 2017,
through God’s mercy and His provision the Church by His grace
continues worshipping and witnessing. Through all the various trials, ups and downs,
by grace we continue to serve The Almighty and Gracious God who
will carry out His Sovereign plan to save His people, and
Glorify His Son Jesus Christ, who has declared "I will build my
Please pray for our Pastor and Church
especially pray for the twice weekly Open Air preaching in Hemel
Hempstead Town Centre, that the glorious Gospel of
Jesus Christ will go forth in clarity and great power, and that God will
be pleased to grant repentance and faith to sinners to His Glory.
Please pray that in all things we
will bring glory to God.
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think, according to the power that
worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ
Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen"