Baptist Tabernacle

Woman standing outside front of Baptist Tabernacle, early 1900s

Keach's Meeting House catered for Baptists from 1695, but a Victorian resurgence of interest in the General Baptist cause was beyond its capacity:

Bucks Chronicle, 4 Oct 1856
WILL deliver TWO SERMONS, at WINSLOW, Bucks; that in the Morning at Twelve o’Clock, and in the Afternoon at Three.
  Persons will be admitted by Tickets, to be had of Mr. Wigley, Winslow; Mr. Stallworthy, Buckingham; and Mr. Marshall, Aylesbury, free of charge.
  A COLD COLLATION will be provided, in the large room of the Bell Hotel, between the services, for which separate Tickets may be obtained, 1s. 6d. each, of the parties above-named, and at the Bell Hotel.
An early application for Tickets is requested.

Bucks Herald, 6 Feb 1858
By the Rev. C.H. SPURGEON.
Services to commence - That in the Morning at half-past Eleven; Afternoon at Three o’Clock.
INVITATION CARDS for the Morning Service will be issued, which will admit to Reserved Seats from half-past 10 to quarter to 11, after which time the doors will be open to the public.  A few of these Cards may be had on application to the Bell Hotel.  The Morning Service is chiefly designed for Members of the Church of England.
Collections will be made after each Service.
  A Cold Collation will be provided after the Service, 1s. 6d. each.
  It is probable an Evening Sermon may also be given by Mr. Spurgeon, at 6 o’Clock.

Bicester Herald, 19 July 1861
  BAPTIST RE-UNION AT WINSLOW.- The Baptists of Winslow, and other friends, had a union tea meeting on Monday.  An effort is in progress for obtaining the services of a resident minister.

Oxfordshire Telegraph, 16 Sep 1863
  HARVEST TEA MEETING AT WINSLOW.- On Tuesday, the 8th instant, there was a gathering of the friends belonging to “The Union Tabernacle,” at Winslow, in order to “Return thanks to Almighty God for the most abundant harvest with which it has pleased him, in his loving mercy, to bless us.”  There were upwards of 130 persons present, who after partaking of tea, which had been provided on the occasion, were addressed by several gentlemen belonging to the connection, and a very agreeable evening was spent.

Buckingham Advertiser, 7 May 1864


Tuesday, May the 3rd, 1864, will for the future be a red letter day in the history of the Baptist Church at Winslow.   The day had long been looked forward to with interest and pleasurable anticipation, being the day appointed for laying the foundation stone of a new Baptist Tabernacle.   A large and commodious tent was erected on the Chapel ground, and over the entrance, in which was displayed in large characters, “Welcome Rev. C. H. Spurgeon,” while over the platform was to be seen, “We preach Christ and Him crucified;” above this the very significant words – “Every man shall give as he is able;” on other parts of the tent were the following  - “Other foundations can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ,” “and are built upon the foundation of the Apostle and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.”  The fair fingers of the young friends must have been busily employed for some time on these decorations.   The morning service commenced at a quarter-past 11 by a few words of prayer by the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon;  after singing and the reading of a portion of the Scriptures, prayer was offered by D. L. Marshall, Esq., of London.  Mr. Spurgeon took for his text the 1st Romans, i., 16 – “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ;  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth:  to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

After the morning service  Mr. Spurgeon, accompanied by a few friends, visited the old Baptist Chapel;  and we could not help feeling, as we gazed at the quaint and out-of-the-way building, looking like something belonging to a by-gone age, that it symbolized the faith of those who worshipped there.  ....  Excellence and abundance characterised the repast, which did great credit to the good taste and liberality of the worthy host, Mr. Neale.

In the evening the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon preached from Mark vii, 32, to at least 1,600 persons.

Donations at laying the foundation stone.

  £ s d
H. Kelsall, Esq. 52 10 0
Rev. C. H. Spurgeon   20 0 0
John Neale, Esq., London  20 0 0
Mr. M. Fulks, Winslow 20 0 0
Mr. W. George, ditto  20 0 0
T. Olney, Esq., London    5 5 0
J. Olney, Esq., ditto          5 0 0
W. H. Paismore, Esq., ditto  5 0 0
J. Orchard, Esq., Hemel Hempstead  5 0 0
Mrs. Fulks, Tring 1 0 0
A friend, per J. Neale   0 10 0
A friend, per W. George 0 10 0
Mr. Madder, Aylesbury  3 0 0
Collections at services  28 0 0
Collecting cards  30 0 0
Profits of tea 12 0 0
  Making a total of   £227 15 0

In addition to the above Mr. Spurgeon also promised to give the last £20.   The attendance at the several services, and the amount contributed to the Building Fund must have more than realised the most sanguine hopes and expectations of those who have taken the lead in this good work, and compels all who are interested in the undertaking to say, “What hath God wrought;” and while ascribing all the praise to Him to whom alone it Is due, and with hopes radiant for the future, to thank God and take courage.       

Buckingham Advertiser, 9 May 1868

When the Baptist cause in the town of Winslow was commenced during the summer of 1863, no one could have anticipated that in such a short space of time it would have grown to the strength and stability which it has now attained.  Probably the highest hopes, and most sanguine expectation of its early promoters have been more than fulfilled in the fact which we have to record.   Both those who supported and those who opposed the movement have been surprised at the success which has continually attended it, and this fact ought greatly to encourage, those who are now engaged in carrying on the work. 

It is just four years ago, since on Tuesday May 3rd, 1864 the first stone of the new Tabernacle was laid by Henry Kelsall Esq, of Rochdale, - the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon on the same day preached two sermons to large crowds of people attracted by the fame of the great gospel orator.   Since that time he has always taken the warmest interest in the new cause at Winslow, and has rendered very considerable help.   Until severe and repeated attacks of gout laid him aside, to a great extent, from country work, he paid regular visit to this town, and preached annually on behalf of the liquidation of the debt incurred through building the new place of worship.   This debt it has been the constant effort of all supporters of the place, to remove, and it is in connection with this object that we have to report the recent proceedings in celebration of the laying the foundation stone of the new Chapel.

These services took place on the Fourth Anniversary of the event, Tuesday, May 5th.  The Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, we regret to say, was unable to attend, though [sic] weakness of health and press of buisness [sic], but his place was efficiently supplied to the satisfaction of all present, by his esteemed brother, and co-pastor, the Rev. J. A. Spurgeon.

The morning service was appointed for a quarter past eleven o’clock, when Mr. Spurgeon preached to a good congregation, an excellent discourse from “Mark, xvi., 6.”

Dinner was provided at the Assembly Room, Bell Hotel, by Mr. W. Neal, in his usual praiseworthy style, and at three o’clock in the afternoon;  a public meeting was held in the same place.  At this gathering John Neal, Esq., of London, but a native of Winslow, who has taken a prominent part in the establishment of this church, occupied the chair.   After the usual devotional exercises the Chairman declared the object of the meeting to be the entire removal of the debt, which still rested upon the Baptist meeting house.   Such churches as the one recently formed in Winslow were needful, even if for no other purpose, to dispel the ignorance exiting in the public mind, upon  many important subjects, and perhaps nowhere more than in Buckinghamshire.  In support of this view, he made reference to the late debate in the House of Commons, upon Mr. Gladstone’s first resolution concerning the Irish Church.   But above all, earnest gospel preaching was needed, because many were daily perishing for want of the knowledge of Christ.   It was to help supply this want that the present effort was made.

The Chairman then called upon Mr. Walker, the pastor of the church, to present the financial statement, which showed a debt on the building of £52..13..0½, while three instalments of £10 each remained to be paid to the Metropolitan Tabernacle Loan Fund.   As it was sought to repay these at once, without waiting until they absolutely became due, the total sum required would be £82. 13..0½.

Next came the Rev. W. Julyan, of Ridgmount, Beds, with an address of a gentle, brotherly spirit.

Mr. Fulks, from the first an earnest supporter of the causes made an appeal for subscriptions, practically enforced by his own example, and the Chairman read out a list of donations promised.

The Rev. J. A. Spurgeon then addressed the meeting, congratulating them upon the progress which had been made, and stimulating them to further effort.   After two young men, officers of the church, Mr. E. Braggins and M. H. George, had spoken, the proceeding were bought to a close.

A number of friends took tea in the chapel at five o’clock, and at half-past six the evening service commenced.   The place was crowded to the doors, the aisles and entrances being all occupied.   The Rev. J. A. Spurgeon again preached, this time from 1 Samuel, xxx., 6, “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”   Though we have often listened to Mr. J. A. Spurgeon, we can honestly say that we never heard him with more unmixed pleasure and profit than on this occasion.   This visit, we believe, has proved a great spiritual blessing to those who heard him preach, and will be productive of abundant good in the church to which he spoke.       

Buckingham Advertiser, 17 Sep 1864
The opening Services of the New Tabernacle, were commenced on Thursday the 15th of September, at 11 o'clock, by the Rev. J.A. Spurgeon, of London, preaching an excellent sermon from a part of the 10th verse of the 3rd chapter of the 1st book of Samuel, "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth," to a respectable though not a crowded congregation.
  At half-past one, a goodly number of the friends partook of a cold collation, provided at the Bell Hotel.
  A Public Meeting was held at half-past 2. J. Neal Esq. of London occupied the chair ... The meeting which was a crowded one, was addressed by the Rev. J.A. Spurgeon, and other friends, who urged upon the meeting the necessity of immediate and persevering effort, till the Building they had erected was free from debt.
  The thanks of the meeting were proposed and carried by acclamation, to the chairman, the Rev. J.A. Spurgeon, the Ladies who had so kindly volunteered their services to preside at the tea, and to Mr. W. George, the indefatigible Secretary of the Building Committee, to whose zeal, energy, and untiring exertions, the signal success that has crowned their labours is mainly to be attributed ...
  A Public Tea was provided at the Bell Assembly Room, at half-past four.
  In the evening, at six o'clock, the Rev. J.A. Spurgeon again preached to a very crowded and attentive congregation ...

Buckingham Advertiser, 24 Sep 1864
  The following particulars relating to this place of worship were omitted in our last impression.  The opening services were continued on Friday, the 16th.  In the afternoon the children belonging to the School took tea in the Chapel, and appeared to enjoy themselves heartily.  Amusements were provided for them in a field kindly lent for the purpose by Mr. Yeulett. 
  In the evening a public service was held in the chapel, when the ordinance of baptism by immersion was administered to five candidates, who were afterwards admitted by the pastor into church fellowship.  The amount realised at the opening services, including a donation of £10 from W. Hauley, Esq., Adstock Fields, was £33 4s.
  The chapel is built of brick, and will seat about 300 persons.  There is a front gallery for the use of the choir, and also commodious vestries.  The entire cost of the building was £600.  It was erected by Mr. J. Munday, builder, Chandos Road, Buckingham, and does him much credit, and is highly satisfactory to all concerned.  There is a nice space left in front of the building, which is to be made into a grass plot, and will be bounded by an iron palisade.  Mr. J. Neal, of London, has very kindly presented a handsome clock for the use of the Chapel.
  The opening services will be brought to a close on Sunday next, September 25th, when two sermons will be preached by the Rev. Thomas Ness, Assistant Minister to the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon. Service in the morning at half-past 10, in the evening at 6 o’clock.

Buckingham Advertiser, 9 Dec 1865 [only part of the very long report is included]
The Rev. R. Sole was publicly set apart and ordained at the Baptist Tabernacle, Winslow, on Friday, December 1st, as the Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A goodly number of ministers were present, beside those who took part in the solemn ceremony, and the congregations were large and respectable.
  The services commenced in the afternoon at half-past 2 by the Rev. George Rogers, Tutor of the Metropolitan College where Mr. Sole was student, giving out the 675th hymn of the new selection, after which the Rev. G. Walker, of Fenny Stratford, read II Corinthians, iv., and offered prayer, simple, devout, and appropriate to the occasion.
  The Rev. Robert Shindler, of Tring, put the usual questions to the Church, when the young minister and Mr. Fulks, the deacon, gave a brief outline of the rise and progress of the Church, and how he came among them, and the success that had attended his services.
  The Rev. R. Shindler next asked Mr. Sole to tell them of his conversion, of his introduction to the ministry, his doctrine, and his teaching, the answers to which were simple, clear, and highly satisfactory.
  At the evening service Mr. Neal, of London, presided, and the service commenced by the Chairman giving out a hymn.
  The Rev. Mr. Ray, the Independent Minister of Winslow, gave out a hymn, after which Mr. Neal read a few verses from the 17th chapter of John.
  The Rev. Mr. Ray being called upon by the Chairman, said he thanked God for this opportunity of meeting with his Baptist friends.  He could, and he did, from his heart wish them all prosperity.  He would hope that what they had heard and enjoyed so much might be long remembered, and become very influential.
  The Rev. Mr. Hood, of Ford, near Aylesbury, offered prayer for the Divine sanction and blessing on the services of the day and the people engaged in them.
  The Doxology was then sung, and the people separated about half-past 9.
  Between the services about 100 of the friends sat down to a social tea, in two separate companies, one in the vestry of the chapel, the other in the chapel house [160 High Street].  The repast being excellent in quality and quantity was enjoyed by all.

Bicester Herald, 2 Aug 1867
  THE BAPTIST CHURCH AT WINSLOW.- On Tuesday, July 16, there were services at the Baptist Tabernacle, at Winslow, to commemorate the settlement of Mr. Alfred Walker (late student of Mr. Spurgeon’s College) as pastor of the Baptist church at Winslow.  In the afternoon there was a recognition service, the chair being taken by John Neal, Esq., of London.  The opening devotional service was conducted by Mr. C. S. Madder, of Aylesbury, after which Mr. M. Fulks, late a deacon of the church, stated the reasons which led to the invitation of Mr. Walker to the vacant pastorate.  Mr. Walker then gave a short account of his Christian experience, of his call to the ministry, and of the motives which led him to settle at Winslow.

Bucks Herald, 24 Aug 1867
  MISS HOOPER AT WINSLOW.- This celebrated lady preacher was announced to preach at the Tabernacle, Winslow, on Wednesday and Thursday, 14th and 15th inst.  On Wednesday the doors were besieged by the crowds in attendance from the towns and villages around, and some time before the service, the building was thronged to excess.  On Thursday, notwithstanding the unpropitious state of the weather, the congregation was again very numerous.

This very cryptic notice inserted in one of the Liberal local papers probably means that someone had lost his job with the Hubbards of Addington for being a nonconformist.

Bicester Herald, 18 Oct 1867

WANTED, a Situation for a Thorough Good AGRICULTURAL LABOURER, living within one hundred miles of Addington, who is under notice to leave because he finds it convenient and profitable to attend the Winslow Conventicle!  Address, No. 90, Post Office, Buckingham

Bucks Herald, 11 Feb 1871

The Reverend J. Smith, late of Bellingborough, Lincs, has accepted an invitation to the pastorate of the Baptist chapel.

In 1877 the Tabernacle was the venue of a public meeting of the National Agricultural Labourers' Union.

Buckingham Advertiser, 28 Feb 1880
TENDERS for the Erection of a NEW SCHOOLROOM, adjoining the Baptist Tabernacle, Winslow, will be received up to SATURDAY, March, 6th, 1880.
Plans may be viewed, and particulars obtained at Mr. William George’s, Stationer, High-street, Winslow.

Buckingham Advertiser, 7 Aug 1880
OPENING OF NEW BAPTIST SCHOOLROOMS. – On Tuesday, August 3rd, public meetings were held at the Baptist Tabernacle, to celebrate the opening of a newly-erected commodious building for the purpose of Sunday Schools.  In the afternoon, the Rev. Charles Spurgeon, of Greenwich (son of the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon), preached to a large congregation, from Haggai, 2nd chap., 19th verse, “From this day will I bless you.”  The preacher remarked that in most almanacks or calendars we could find certain days distinguished from the rest – as red letter days;  so each Christian must have experienced in his life’s history some golden days for which he might erect Ebenezers along the road of life.  Surely that day might be entered in the annals of their Christian Church as a day of special blessing;  but they must set to work with increased energy, even from this very day, if they would receive richer blessings from above.  They now possessed large schoolrooms, and they must use every effort to fill them.   The husbandman must labour and toil for the harvest; there must be a holy industry for those that would prosper; slothfulness always brings evil, and therefore he would beg of them not to neglect their work, as the fire constantly requires fresh fuel, and we daily need renewing and winding up.   The rev. gentleman divided his subject into five portions, or heads, viz.; First, “From this day I will bless you;” secondly, “the nature of the blessing;” thirdly, “the certainty of this blessing;” fourthly, “who are the objects of this blessing;” and lastly, “the time of blessing.” – A collection was made in aid of the building fund.  A public tea followed, in the new schoolroom, at which a good number of visitors and friends were present. – The meeting in the evening was presided over by John Neal, Esq., of London.  The Rev. F. J. Feltham (pastor) gave a detailed statement, from which it appeared that the total cost of the new building amounted to £450, towards which sum they had collected £198 11s. 7d., and he hoped to take up the amount to £250 before the close of the day.  Stirring addresses were given by the Chairman, Mr. C. Madder (Aylesbury), Rev. C. Spurgeon, Rev. W. J. Tompkins (Ridgemount), Rev. T. S. Smith (Little Kingshill), Rev. A. Walker (Houghton Regis), and the Rev. – Mote (Bramton, Cumberland).  The pastor announced that the collection in the afternoon was rather over £5, and that the evening amounted to £36 1s. 2d., upon which the Chairman most liberally offered to give the sum required to bring the total amount up to £250.  He strongly suggested that the new building should be called the “Winslow Centenary Hall.”  A cordial vote of thanks was given to the Chairman, to Mr. Spurgeon, and the brethren who had taken part in the proceedings, and the meeting closed with the Benediction.

The name Centenary Hall was chosen because it was the 100th anniversary of the Sunday School movement.  

Interior of Baptist Tabernacle with leading members seated, 1926
Baptist Tabernacle, 4 February 1926

Memorial to Frederick Benbow, 1917

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Copyright 28 October, 2020