Bennetts Baptist Church




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Bennetts End Reformed Baptist Church in Hemel Hempstead | The Holy Bible and The TV Guide
Bennetts Baptist Church

The History of God's Church here

1818 - 2018

  Years, all of God's Grace

From 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).

This 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 1818 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





The 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 Baptists.







Later a mortgage of 10th February 1836 was for Land, Chapel and Manse 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:


Church Sittings AM PM Evenings
Hemel Hempstead R&C Yard 680 351 487
Water End 90 - 90
Boxmoor 340 150 300
Salem Baptist Church 140 65 72
Leverstock Green 162 - -

William Upton Survey 1847/1848

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) - 1918

Church Officers

Salem Baptist Chapel – Two Waters - Centenary Services August 28th 1918, Ministers and Officers of the Church:

Mr Gilbert, Mr Reynolds (Deacon), Mr Osbourn, Mr Batchelor, Mr Christmas (Sunday School Superintendent)

Mr Hawkins, Mr Beasley, Mr Booth (Officiating Minister), Pastor Burrage (Salem Church's Pastor), Mr Pearce,

Mr Creasley (Senior Deacon)

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 school teacher.

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 visiting Preachers.

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 the NIV.

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 Church called a Pastor.

Over time the Bible Version changed 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" Hymn Book.

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 established.

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 Church unanimously 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 discussions concerning 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 Church 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 2018, 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 Church".

Please pray for our Pastor and Church members. Please 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.

Ephesians 3:20-21 "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"






Welcome             Church Services and Times      SUNDAY SCHOOL        Contact us          Map        

Sermon Recordings          What is a Christian           Our History           Reformer's Online Library           1689 Confession            TULIP

                 The Word of God           Worthy Hymns             Good Book Guide             CH Spurgeon'S Daily Readings  

    SITE Search            Young People’s Gospel Meetings          Catechism          R. Chaplin