Discover the chapel interior

Open door at Monksthorpe Chapel in Lincolnshire

Visit the chapel to find out more about Baptists and to see what it was like to attend a service here.

Built in 1701 there are no records of what the chapel was exactly like inside. The interior would have been plain and unfurnished. The present decor is typical of the 1840s when the chapel was refurbished.

When the building was built, baptists were persecuted, therefore the chapel building was erected in the form of a farmyard barn with a thatched roof; and an escape hatch above the pulpit so that the preacher might make a hurried exit on a horse tethered outside should that be necessary. The thatched roof was replaced with tiles in 1847, when the vestries were also added.

Chapel pews as seen from the balcony above
Pews in Monksthorpe Chapel
Chapel pews as seen from the balcony above

 A bit of history

Thomas Helwys founded the first Baptist Church on English soil at Spittalfields in 1612 which was then just outside London. By the year 1651, the Baptist cause had reached Lincolnshire and small groups were meeting for worship. As it was not safe for them to do so, they met in secret. A group formed and met at the 'Preaching Tree' in the croft of Monksthorpe. They worshipped in the open air while watch was kept from the nearby trees to give warning of the approach of the king's soldiers. People walked to worship at Monksthorpe from distances of many miles. This was at a time when it was not safe to be other than a member of the established church. The congregation at Monksthorpe was always intended to be a non-residential one, but in 1781 there are records to show that Monksthorpe had a membership of eighty-one. Since that time numbers have fluctuated, as Monksthorpe's seclusion in a sparsely populated area makes it harder to attract new members.

Monksthorpe's harmonium, or reed organ, was made in Canada
Harmonium in Monksthorpe Chapel
Monksthorpe's harmonium, or reed organ, was made in Canada

Don't miss...

  • the harmonium that was used in the 1800s
  • the tomb of Hugh Ayscough under the pulpit
  • the small escape door high on the wall
  • the pot-bellied stove to keep the congregation warm
  • information boards in the newly renovated caretaker's cottage
Modest decorations at Christmas time
Christmas decorations at Monksthorpe Chapel
Modest decorations at Christmas time