Meeting in safety
Deliberately built into a hill and surrounded by woodland, it was hoped that at Loughwood, Baptists would be able to meet in safety. The meeting house may have been positioned on the county border to allow preachers to flee into the neighbouring county when threatened.
A time of great danger
Attending a service was risky and guards were often stationed outside to warn of approaching soldiers. Tales recount how the congregation arrived one morning to find an armed soldier at the door, with orders to attack the first person attempting to enter. Another story describes worshippers arriving to find a huntsman blowing a horn whilst hounds sniffed around the pews.
Protestant refugees (Huguenots), fleeing persecution in France, were crucial to the founding of Loughwood. Jean de Phippen may have provided the site which Loughwood was built on. It is believed these refugees were nicknamed ‘French’ which they adopted as their surname.
The mother church
As attitudes to Baptists softened so Loughwood became a mother church creating new parishes in the region. In 1832, a new church was openly established in Kilmington and it retains close links with Loughwood.
By 1969 damp and rot forced church services to move permanently to Kilmington Church and Loughwood was given to the National Trust. A restoration programme was launched to halt the decay and restore the thatched roof which had been replaced with slate in 1871.
Heresy, political rebellion, murder and sexual licence. The 17th Century English Baptists were called Anabaptists and accused of these crimes. Why?
Life at Loughwood
What was it like to be part of the 17th Century congregation at Loughwood? How was the meeting house used and what went on?
Loughwood's most famous worshipper was Deborah Huish. A young girl confused with her beliefs, her story is immortalised in the book The Captive Taken from the Strong (1658).