A brief history of Denmead Baptist Church
Although it is believed that there were dissenting Christians
in the Denmead area before the Act of Toleration of 1689 it was not until 1717
that William Luff applied for the first ‘licence’. Even so it was not until 1829
that “a certain chapel, Anmore. Humphrey Crossman, minister” was registered.
This ‘certain chapel’ was the beginning of what was to become Denmead Baptist
Church through the ministry of Daniel Miall, baptised at St Thomas’s Street
Baptist Church in Portsmouth and ordained there in 1774. Through his ministry,
centred on Meeting House Alley, Miall has been recognised as the most prolific
sponsor of new churches and trainer of pastors in the history of the Southern
The church building at Denmead was acquired through the purchase of ‘a dwelling,
stable and buildings’ from Simon Hatch on 23rd June 1828. This allowed for a
brick-built chapel to be constructed, a field next door for picnics and
celebrations, and Firgrove Cottages as its Manse. By May 1841 the fellowship had
reduced in number and was unable to finance the upkeep of the chapel. The chapel
was gifted to Hambledon parish and employed as a ‘chapel-of-ease’ for Anglicans
in the Denmead Area. The manse and field were bought by Humphrey Crossman before
being sold on to William Walker. The fellowship did not disappear entirely,
however, and continued to meet in various homes around the village. By 1881 the
congregation had grown to the extent that a meeting hall was needed. The Forest
of Bere public house, located at the village end of Anmore Road, had a suitable
upstairs room which became the church’s meeting place on Sundays. An application
to move back into the chapel was met with opposition from Hambledon parish –
until an Anglican church, All Saints, was being built in Denmead in 1892. In
1894 the Baptist congregation moved back onto the site in Anmore Road, tore down
the dilapidated chapel building and rebuilt it. This is the building used for
Not much remains of the detailed life of the church between 1894 and 1930. As
some point in the 1920s a lay pastor, Mr Mansbridge, arrived. He died in 1930
and was replaced in the early 1930s by Mr Gould, whose family kept a Drapers
shop in the end-of-terrace house across the road from the church. The work of
the Pastor was picked up in 1934 by Mr Nutkins, whose wife was President of the
“Women’s Bright Hour” meeting. They continued in ministry until 1944 when Mr
Nutkins was asked to leave on account of his lack of training in ‘Baptist work’
– a move seen as instigated by Rev. Tooke from Waterlooville Baptist Church. Mr
Nutkins went to a Baptist Bible College and on completion accepted the call to
pastor three churches in Cornwall. The impact on the church in Denmead was to
split, with some (including the Women’s Bright Hour) starting a new church based
at Greylands in Mill Road, whilst Waterlooville Baptist Church took ‘oversight’
of those who remained at the chapel.
A new phase of the church was instigated by the arrival of (Waterlooville
Baptist Church appointed!) Sister Mable Carnell, as ‘Deaconess in Charge’, in
1947. With a difficult task in front of her she healed many broken
relationships. It may have been this that contributed to her ill-health and
early retirement, and eventually her premature death. She was replaced by Sister
Hazel Graham in about 1953 – who inherited a church with well attended services
and several baptisms. However, she too paid with her health – and after much
illness died of bronchitis at the age of 62.
Having had lay pastors and Deaconesses the church next tried student pastors. In
1960 Mr Bryan Oman arrived as a student pastor – lodging with Mr and Mrs Pierson
in Hambledon Road. After a year in post he left for full-time ministerial
training before settling in Milford, Southampton. He was followed by Mr W
Rogers, who also left after one year to go to college for ministerial training
before settling at Hendley, Exmoor. These student pastors provided some
stability and held the church together.
From 1962 the church relied on visiting preachers, however, the removal of the
Pierson family to Hambledon, and then Waterlooville, left a serious dent in
church life. The Pearson family had been the backbone of the church for some
time – providing Church Secretaries, Treasurers, organist, Sunday School
teachers, etc. As a result, help was sought from Waterlooville Baptist Church.
Rev. Murray Raw of Waterlooville became the Moderator, and three or four members
took it upon themselves to support this struggling fellowship. Most notable of
these were Miss Bailey and Miss Beart (retired school teachers from Marcham in
Oxfordshire) who provided great help in many areas of church life.
Some time later Sister Ethel Stephenson retired out from Portsmouth. She took
over as Church Secretary and generally ‘mothered’ the fellowship until she died.
She was replaced as Church Secretary by Mr Frank Dellow, who with Mrs Dellow
worked hard in the church, travelling two or three times each day from Purbrook.
After another period without oversight, and with much prayer, a student pastor,
Mr Ken Hyde arrived in 1988. At the end of his studies he moved to Cornwall to
take up full-time ministry. This saw Mrs Diane Cooper, a retired school teacher,
take over as Pastor in 1990. During Diane’s ten year ministry she built a solid
foundation in the church. On her retirement she was missed greatly by many. As a
result of Diane’s ministry the church was able to call its first full-time
stipendiary ordained minister in 2003, when Rev. Danny Paine Winnett accepted
the call to minister at Denmead.
Danny has helped the church to move forward over the last two years and the
church in Denmead is a thriving and lively community.
Their website at
http://www.denmeadbaptistchurch.org.uk gives more details of current