The Baptist Chapel in Leverstock Green was situated along the Bedmond Road, opposite Holy Trinity Church, and can be seen quite clearly in the centre of this early postcard, its rounded tall “Chapel” windows proclaimed its function.
The chapel was built in 1841, following the transfer of the land on which it stood from John Field to the elders of the Baptist Church in Hemel Hempstead. It was demolished in the early 1970’s. The original deeds of conveyance for the freehold land in the then parish of Abbots Langley were for the express purpose of building a Baptist Chapel in Leverstock Green and were dated 23rd March 1841. They are currently held in the Baptist Archive at the Angus Library, Regents Park College, Oxford. Essentially the deed assigns the Freehold of the land on which the Baptist chapel was to be built, from John Field, to the elders of the Baptist Church in Hemel Hempstead, with Frederick Day acting as a holding Trustee for that freehold.
It also, very interestingly, also lays down what today we would call the constitution or governing document of the “charity” or “trust” which was to control the new Baptist Chapel and its congregation. The photo to the right shows May Day celebrations at the school with the Baptist Chapel next door. During its lifetime, until the decade or so before its demolition, Leverstock Green Baptist Chapel served a vibrant local non-conformist community, and its congregation played an important part in Village Life.
It was the first official purpose built place of worship in the village, the Anglican Church not being built for a further 8 years. By the 20th century it was the possessor of a fine organ, and as well as services several concerts were held in the chapel. The Rev. H.D. Logan M.A. was the minister at the Baptist Church in 1965, and presided till its demolition a few years later.
On 27th May 1936 the 95th anniversary of the chapel was celebrated with special meetings etc. Funds raised on the day went to the cost of renovating and redecorating the chapel. £100 had recently already been spent on redecorating etc. Gazette gave full details of speakers etc. (mostly from around Hertfordshire) and concluded by saying that “ The meetings were splendidly attended and were a great inspiration to the Village Cause.” The congregation during and immediately after the war was particularly vibrant and Norman Ivory, born in 1940 remembers the following:
Mum's Father William was the Sunday School Superintendent at the Baptist Chapel and she became the Church organist. After she married my Father and he returned from the war they both did organist duties and he became the Chapel Treasurer and Secretary. I attended of course - three times every Sunday. I remember at the end of the wartime when my Mother played the organ at the services I sat with my Grandfather in his pew. The Chapel then would hold a maximum of about 110 people seated in the pews. It was full and with people sitting down the isles every Sunday at that time and I would sit looking at the pictures in Granddad’s Bible and looking at the red writing. (The words spoken by Jesus were in red). …. He would leave the pew half way through the service to take the collection plate round. People came from all around the area to those wartime and just after the war services. Many events were held like suppers and festivals. The Harvest Festival was very special and the whole of the front end of the Chapel around and including the pulpit was full of produce. I used to go down the Lane hedgerows to collect 'Daddy’s Beard' to decorate the Chapel. The produce was all donated and was the biggest and the best and afterwards was auctioned off.
The Baptist congregation had their own Sunday School and Women’s League and, like their Anglican counterpart held an annual treat or trip.
The two photos below show the women’s League and one pre-outing photograph sometime in the late 1940’s or 1950’s. Today’s non-conformist worshipers in Leverstock Green are served by Adeyfield Free Church on Leverstock Green Road, just the other side of the dual-carriageway.
ABOVE: Baptist Women’s League about 1948. From back to front and from left to right:Mrs Ison, Mrs Hilda Ivory, Mrs Ivy Milmer, Mrs Edith Rogers, ?,
Middle row: Mrs Gertrude Wilkins , Mrs Helen Field, Mrs Seeby, Mrs Mayo, Unknown - possibly Mrs DeBegar Front row, Mrs Rose Healing , Mrs Rose the Paster's wife, Mrs Lillian Gurney - Unknown - possibly Mrs Brigginshaw.
BELOW: Members of the Leverstock Green Baptist Chapel's Women's League & Sunday School prior to one of their annual summer outings, sometime between 1945 & 1954. Pictured are Back Row L-R: ?, Mrs Ison, Mrs. G Wilkins, Mrs. Ivory the Chapel organist, ?, ?, Mrs Rogers, ? Middle Row L-R: ?, ?, Mrs Gurney, Mrs Seaby, Mrs Rose the Pastor's wife, Mrs Milmer, ?, ?, ?, Front L-R: unknown children, Mrs DeBeager, ?,?.