deposited in the Record Office on indefinite loan in December 1993
Administrative / biographical background:
The Berkhamsted Baptist Church dates from at least 1640 and is amongst the oldest in the denomination. A Representative of the Church attended the General Baptist Assemblies held in London in 1654 and 1656 and by 1676 the congregation had at least 100 members.
The congregation was not an isolated one. In its early years the Church was strongly associated with the Chesham baptists and was part of a wider Buckinghamshire Association. Separate churches at Tring and Redbourn established in the seventeenth century were apparently offshoots of the Berkhamsted/Chesham association, which from 1712 onwards was also supporting preaching stations at Colney Street, Bedmond, Bovingdon, Frithsden and Hudnall in Hertfordshire and Whelply Hill, Pipers Hill, Chartridge (from 1720) and Wendover (from 1788) in Buckinghamshire. By 1750 the dual Berkhamsted/Chesham Church was enlarged by association with a further congregation at Frogmore End, Tring.
In 1809 the Berkhamsted Baptist Church joined the recently established New Connexion of General Baptists and subsequently became part of the Hertfordshire Union (established 1810), predecessor of the Hertfordshire Baptist Association.
Until 1722 the Berkhamsted baptists held their meetings on the private properties of members. In 1722, however, a site in Water Lane, Berkhamsted, was purchased and a meeting house built which, later enlarged, remained in use until 1864 when it was demolished and a new chapel built in the High Street. A chapel was also erected by the Berkhamsted baptists at Frithsden in 1834 for the use of members who had been meeting in that hamlet since at least 1798, but this closed for services in the 1930s.