Our History

Tim Parkman Sept 2021

The religious life of Saltash goes back in history too far for us to explore except to note that it would have been centred from about the 11th century at St. Nicholas with St. Stephens added about the 13th century.

The I8th Century produced some men of outstanding courage and ability, who have left their mark on the history of England. Among these are Wilberforce, Wilkes, Wesley, Raikes and Carey. It is not surprising therefore, that the conscience of the people was aroused, for although smuggling and law-breaking was rife there was a distinct movement towards the improvement of moral standards. So although the first Baptist fellowship seems to have been founded in the reign of Elizabeth 1, it was not until about 1750 that the first Baptist dissenters crossed the River Tamar to bring non-conformity to Saltash. The followers of John Wesley soon followed and by 1792 they also were holding open-air meetings.

The way of dissenters was not easy for they met with much opposition. In 1790 a group of Baptist evangelists, arriving by boat in Saltash, were stoned by locals, but they were determined people. They would have begun by meeting in the homes of sympathisers, or any available building. By 1791, their efforts were rewarded, when Rev. Isaiah Birt and Rev. Philip Gibbs of Plymouth Dock acquired a plot of land in Silver St. Thus with non-conformity established in the Town in the name of the Baptist community of Protestant Dissenters, the first chapel was built. It is commemorated on a stone erected by Isaiah Birt’s son and also by the graves of his wife and family. These may be seen on the South wall of the present churchyard. In 1797 the Minister of the Baptist Tabernacle in Plymouth, the Rev. Isaac Taylor, took on the additional task of being our first Pastor. Non-conformism was spreading and in l807 the first Wesley Chapel opened. At this time the Vicar of St. Stephens, Rev. John Dawson, was claiming that Saltash ‘abounded with dissenters’!

By the 1860’s the first church was in a state of decay and had to be demolished. In 1865 it was replaced on the present site with a new building shown above on the left. This housed the town’s Baptist Fellowship for over a hundred years. The architect was Mr. J. Ambrose of Plymouth with Mr. Shaddock as the Saltash contractor. The foundation stone, laid by Mr. Jeffery of Liverpool in April 1865 can be seen in the wall of the current church close to the entrance.

Many other interesting gravestones are to be found in the graveyard. These include a man whose death is commemorated on three separate stones one wonders which wife had him in the end? The present Church held it’s first service on Christmas Day 1991 and was dedicated and opened in March 1992 following the destruction of the second church by fire on Christmas Day 1987, following a break-in. The intruder probably started it while trying to keep warm! The dramatic photograph above showing the ferocity of the fire, was taken by a local teenager using a camera given him as a Christmas present that very morning! 

Data Protection Policy

Under Data Protection legislation the church Charity Trustees of Saltash Baptist Church are the Data Controllers and the Church Secretary acts as our Data Protection Officer. We are collecting this information to enable the church to keep in touch with you and provide pastoral support as appropriate.

Data Protection legislation allows us to process this information as we regard it as being in the church’s legitimate interest. Your name and contact details will be entered into our church database which is held on the church office computer and cloud system which is password protected and accessed only by the Ministers, Church Secretary and Church Administrator. Your contact details will be removed from the database once you are no longer a member of the church – unless you ask to remain as one of our “church friends”. We would like to include your name and contact details in our Church Directory which will be accessible through ChurchSuite . If you are happy for your details to be included please indicate where asked to do so. You can ask for your details to be removed at any time.

To enable us to provide adequate pastoral support to you and your family, one of the Ministers may record information which may be regarded as sensitive. This information will be stored (in password protected documents) on the church computer and Cloud System but the password will only be known by the Ministers. This information will NOT be disclosed to anyone else without your consent. You have the right to ask to see any information we hold about you (including the pastoral support information) by submitting a ‘Subject Access Request’ to the Church Secretary. You also have the right to ask for information which you believe to be incorrect to be rectified. If you are concerned about the way your information is being handled please speak to our Data Protection Officer. If you are still unhappy you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioners Office.


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