Upper Stratton Baptist Church Swindon
With this Swindon in 50 More Buildings series my quest to include different areas of town continues, as it did in my Swindon in 50 Buildings book. What I can also do with this series, that I couldn’t with the book, is look at some buildings in the wider borough. I’ve not yet spread my blogging wings that far but I will – so watch this space. But for now, with this post, I’m in Upper Stratton with the Upper Stratton Baptist Church.
In the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic I’m reliant on Internet research. Thus much of what I’ve written here is taken from the website of this church. They’ve got an ongoing history page that has lots of great photographs and documents on it. So, if you want to delve deeper into the history of this church go there!
A bit about Upper Stratton to begin with
In similar vein to Shaw , swallowed up by the western Expansion, Upper Stratton village used to be a discrete community. That was until the arrival of the GWR. As New Swindon expanded into a large and modern town it absorbed Upper Stratton.
The Baptist church on which this post centres, was built 1861. From that year to this the church has busied itself serving the community as a place of worship as well as a hub for community activities.
See also this Swindon Advertiser piece from 2008: A Brief History of Stratton Sr Margaret.
‘The area of the parish of Stratton was once much larger than it is now. The majority of Gorse Hill was part of the parish until 1890 when it was taken into Swindon. And a large part of the housing estate at Penhill used to be fields in the parish of Stratton St Margaret.
Stratton derives its name from the Latin, strata (meaning a paved way or street) after the Roman road which runs straight through the parish from south east to north west. In the Domesday Book, taken from the survey in 1086, the name is shown as Stratone.
Then, the parish was in possession of Nigel who was the physician of William the Conqueror. The village once consisted of three main areas:
1.The Street (the area near The Wheatsheaf in Ermin Street)
2. The area around Green Road and Dores Road and including the few houses at Kingsdown ..
3. … and Stratton Green, mainly around Tilley’s Lane.
Various footpaths and coffin-ways joined these three areas…’
Before the chapel in Green Lane (later to become Green Road) opened, Upper Stratton had no school and only one small Primitive Methodist church.
In 1860, one Henry Tucker Esq. of Bourton House, Berkshire took ownership of a large part of Upper Stratton village. A Christian, he took the decision to take action on this situation to both benefit the community and of course, glorify God. Thus he made plans to build the Chapel. He intended it to serve the community both as a day school and as a free church.
1861 saw the laying of the foundation stone and the church started its Upper Stratton life in 1862 and Rev Horatio Gilmore served as the first full-time Minister.
1886 – the bell dings its last dong
In this year the bell fell from use in Upper Stratton but later went on a one way trip to Jamaica in response to an appeel (see what I did there?!) from the Baptist Missionary Society. So what do Jamaica that?! Boom!
By 1891, following the death of one Mrs Tucker (see their website for more info) this church became a lay church. Plans to amalgamate with Gorse Hill Baptist church and for a co-pastorate with Stratton Green Baptist church came to naught. Hence this church became led by a lay pastorate for over 60 years. The first such preacher being Mr A N Taylor who served as Senior Deacon until 1919.
1929 and there’s a Sunday School
On the 2nd March 1929 the bunting flew for the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the new Sunday School hall. Mr Samuel Colborne did duty as guest of honour and gave the address at the special service. Mr Colborne served as superintendent of the Sunday School some forty-five years before this event.