The History of
God's Church here
1818 - 2018
all of God's Grace
Salem Strict Baptist Chapel was formed in 1818 when the building
was erected in Featherbed Lane, Two Waters, Hemel Hempstead. The
Chapel was then registered for public worship on 15th August
1818 with Pastor William Foxwell as the first Pastor. It became
known as Salem Strict Baptist Chapel and was associated with the
Strict and Particular Baptist Churches belonging to the
denomination called Particular Baptists.
Later on 10th February 1836, a mortgage was drawn up for Land,
Chapel and Manse in the name of J. Waller. In 1850 a Trust was
founded for the Chapel. Pastor William Foxwell served for 35
years until 1853, and Pastor Richard Searle became the next
Pastor in 1854.
By 1851 Census figures show the Church attendance was an average
of 140 people at each of the three Sunday Services. In addition,
it had a full Sunday School of an average of thirty three
children. The Church Officers in 1852 were: Pastor William
Foxwell and Deacons: Mr Jas Tolley, Mr William Budd, Mr John
Powling, Mr William Frances, Mr George Gristwood, Mr J Waller,
and Mr William Ewer. Sixty six years later, the picture below
was taken at the Church Centenary Services with special services
on Wednesday August 28th, 1918. Mr J Booth of Bradford preached
sermons in the morning, afternoon and evening.
Pastor Richard Searle
Pastor John Burrage
Above Centenary Services August 28th 1918, Pastor and Deacons
(Top left to right)
Mr Gilbert, Mr Reynolds, Mr Osbourn, Mr Batchelor, Mr Christmas
(Sunday School Superintendent) Mr Hawkins, Mr Beasley, Mr Booth
(Officiating Minister), Pastor Burrage (Pastor), Mr Pearce, Mr
Creasley (Senior Deacon).
The picture to the right is of Pastor J.P Gladstone who was the
Pastor at Salem from 1931-1947. After the Second World War,
during the 1950's, the Church saw very encouraging years, both
spiritually and numerically, with 50-60 children attending
Sunday School each Sunday. In June 1956, Mr Boxal was called to
be the Pastor and he served as Pastor for 7 years to 1963.
Pastor John Saunderson was connected to the Church for over 55
years. He was 12 years old when he began attending the Church in
1932. He attended with his parents and was saved by grace and
baptised in 1939, the year the Second World War began. After
serving in the military he returned home to the Church and was
for many years a Sunday School teacher. In 1963 he was called to
The Picture to the right is of Pastor Saunderson in 1963 at his
induction. Under his ministry the Church flourished. June 15th
1968 marked 150 years of the Church’s work and it's witness.
However, Church attendance dropped over the 1980’s and Pastor
Saunderson's ministry continued until his health no longer
enabled him in 1987.
Over those 169 years the Church has always maintained a
commitment to the best translation of the Word of God into the
English language from the uncorrupted Greek Received Texts and
Hebrew Masoretic Texts. The faithful Authorised Version of the
Bible is based on these texts. God in His Word has indeed
promised to preserve His Word. Therefore, the Church has always
held to the Doctrine of Divine Preservation of Holy Scripture,
as set forth in the Word of God and referenced in all the
Historic Reformed Church Confessions of Faith. The Church also
maintained the singing of the inspired Psalms and theologically
sound Hymns sung in an atmosphere of godly fear and reverent
After Pastor John Saunderson retired, a much younger man began
to lead the work on 24th September 1988, but not as the pastor
and remaining as a member of a nearby Church in Chesham. Under
his direction the Bible Version changed from the Authorised
Version, to the New King James and then to the New International
Attendance by now had decreased to just a few people. In a
campaign to increase numbers a few Christians were called upon
from other Grace Baptist Churches to assist with the work,
however despite these efforts numbers did not increase. The
young man continued to lead Salem Baptist Chapel for a further
two years until November 25th 1990 when the final service took
place that morning, ending the 172 years of Salem Baptist
Church's witness in the area. Sadly the Salem Chapel was sold
for just £47,691 to a charismatic Church that still continue to
meet in the Chapel.
Salem Strict Baptist Chapel, Featherbed Lane, Two Waters, Hemel
After the sale of the Chapel, further trust funds were granted
to the Church work from the recently 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. Meetings moved to homes in
Bennetts End, then Belswains Primary School and then to the
Bennetts End Community Centre where we still meet today.
In June 1994 the Church formed as "Bennetts End Evangelical
Baptist Church". On that occasion the afore mentioned gentleman,
became the Church Pastor.
However over the next four years membership decreased to just a
few people and he laid down the pastorate in August 1998.
After his departure and at the Church's request, Mr Chalan
Hetherington a very new and last remaining Deacon, agreed to
lead the work until the Church called a Pastor. Over time the
Bible Version was restored back to the Authorised Version and
the Church also replaced the contemporary chorus and hymn books
with Metrical Psalms and the formerly used "Gospel Hymns" hymn
book. Later a weekly Open Air Gospel
preaching in Hemel Hempstead Town centre was established and
On January 20th 2009, the Church unanimously called Mr
Hetherington to the Pastorate. In October 2013 the Church
unanimously agreed to withdraw from the Association of Grace
We have not been able to replace the Chapel; and property values
have escalated dramatically since it was sold in 1990.
Nonetheless we are very thankful for the Bennetts End Community
Centre and above all for the way that the Lord has preserved the
Church during some very difficult times.
We are very encouraged that Mr Stephen Hare has recently taken
up the Sunday School. We pray that the Lord will raise godly
Deacons to assist Pastor Hetherington in the work.
This year marks 200 years of the Lord’s sustaining and upholding
the Church in Hemel Hempstead. Through God’s mercy and gracious
provision the Church continues to preach the Gospel of the
Sovereign Grace of God as we worship and witness for Him.
Through all the various trials, we continue to serve Almighty
God who has declared "I will build My Church". Matthew 16:18.
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"