The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
MUTLEY BAPTIST CHAPEL
The Mutley Baptist Chapel is situated on the western side of Mutley Plain, Plymouth.
Early in 1867 the Baptist congregation at George Street Chapel resolved to build a second chapel for the convenience of its worshippers and that this should be in the rural surroundings of Mutley Plain.
Mutley Baptist Chapel with the Spurgeon Hall on the left.
The uninscribed memorial stone for Mutley Baptist was laid on Wednesday, June 17th 1868 by Mr Peter Adams, the senior deacon. From that sunny day onwards, construction proceeded rapidly. The Chapel was constructed in the Venetian Italian style using blue limestone from Pomphlett quarries and massive slabs of Cornish granite, from Cheesewring Quarries, were brought to form the front landings and steps. The columns at the entrance were in Portland stone, especially carved by Mr Harry Hems, an Exeter sculptor. The architect was Mr John Ambrose and the contractor was Mr J Finch. The Chapel would be 85 feet in length and 55 feet in breadth and below the building would be schools capable of taking seven hundred children. The cost was expected to be around £7,000.
Present at this event were: the Reverends T Horton, J P Haddy (Hope Chapel), J M Charlton, F E Anthony (Western College), C B Symes (Courtenay Street Chapel), J Wood (Presbyterian Chapel), J May (Saltash), E Edwards (Torquay), B Hickman (Norley Chapel), T C Page (George Street Chapel), J Stock (Morice Square Chapel), W Elliott and J Haydon, plus Messrs A Rooker, W H Prance, R C Serpell, J W Popham, C Watt, J Alger, D Slater, F Weymouth, W Burnell, J P Fittock, and T Nicholson.
Another glorious day marked the opening of the Chapel, Thursday November 11th 1869. A prayer meeting was held at 7am and in the afternoon a meeting was held in the school room at which it was announced that the final cost of construction would be nearly £8,000, of which £5,500 had already been raised by subscription or promised. This announcement brought a rush of gifts and promises that by the end of the first day brought the total received to £7,935 8s 8d and the building was thus opened free of any debt, to the relief of one and all.
The towers each side of the entrance contain the stairways to the galleries. At the western end of the Chapel is the pulpit and baptistery, the whole standing in an arched recess. The arch is carried by two polished granite columns, each 13 feet tall, and the pulpit is of varnished pitch pine. In addition to the vestries for the ministers and the deacons, there is also a large room beneath the vestries for meetings. Although the school-room for about 500 children and the class-rooms are at basement level, because the ground falls away from Mutley Plain, they are in fact naturally lit.
Gas fittings were provided by Messrs Monk and Westlake, of Frankfort Street; red cushions for the seats were provided by Mr Chapman, upholsterer, of George Street; while the hot water heating system was installed by Messrs Plimsaul Brothers.
Doctor Landells of Regent's Park and the Reverend C Vince, of Buckingham, conducted the services on the opening day.
Mutley Baptist worked closely with its companions in George Street until March 20th 1876, when over one hundred members who worshipped at Mutley decided it was time to form a separate congregation. In July that year they appointed their first minister, the Reverend Benwell Bird, of Birmingham. It was some time after this that Mutley took on the responsibility for the chapels at Millbrook, Hoo Meavy and Buckland Monachorum.
In 1877 the organ was installed and in 1907 the Chapel was extended by the provision of a lecture hall, eight classrooms and a caretaker's house, all at a cost of £3,650.
During the Blitz of Plymouth the Chapel was used by the congregation from George Street when their premises were bombed and also by the Presbyterians when the same happened to their building. Mutley Chapel was miraculously spared from destruction by the prompt action of its caretakers, Mr Pethick and Mr Trevena, who on many occasions dealt with incendiaries that landed on both the Chapel and the School.
|© Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK|
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