Church History

The origins of the church go back more than 350 years, when in 1651 Thomas Tillam was appointed to the post of lecturer at Hexham Abbey. A passionate evangelist with Baptist convictions, he baptised his converts and formed them into a Baptist church in July 1652. After Tillam left the Abbey a few years later, and with the restoration of the monarchy, the church was prevented from meeting in Hexham and for the next 180 years met in homes and farmhouses.

It soon expanded into the Derwent and Wear valleys, and eventually separated as congregations , each erecting its own premises for worship, firstly in Hamsterley, then Rowley. The Tyne Valley congregation met primarily in the kitchen of Hindley farmhouse, and also at Juniper Dye House. During these years evangelists and ministers from the church travelled widely through the North of England, helping to establish churches in new places such as Conston and Stockton. The church was also a founder member of the Northern Association of Baptist churches in 1690.

Hindley Farm
Hindley Farm, where a baptist congregation met for almost two hundred years before moving to Broomley in 1835. The building was destroyed by fire in 1863 and subsequently rebuilt.

In 1835 the Hindley congregation moved to a new purpose-built chapel in the village of Broomley. A fruitful period of growth then saw the church build a second chapel in Broomhaugh (Riding Mill) in 1842. This was built on land which belonged to the Angus family, the distinguished leading family in the church for most of its life, who had already established a Baptist burial ground there. These two congregations remained a similar size - about 50 members - throughout the rest of the nineteenth century.

Broomhaugh Baptist Chapel
Broomhaugh Baptist Chapel in Riding Mill village, which was the home of a baptist congregation from 1842 until the 1960s. A burial ground at the back of the building includes the resting places of two ministers and several leading members of the church from the nineteenth century.

Then at the turn of the Twentieth Century, under the leadership of Peter Slater, the church's longest-serving pastor, the Broomley congregation took the strategic decision to move to Stocksfield, which was then a growing commuter village, while Broomley had suffered from depopulation. The Broomley chapel was demolished and the stones were used in the building of the new premises on the main road in Stocksfield. In the following years the congregation grew to its largest size, almost a hundred members.

Stocksfield Baptist Church in 1905
An early photograph of the current building in Stocksfield, not long after it was erected in 1905.

Like many British churches, Stocksfield and Broomhaugh Baptist churches saw slow decline in life and membership over the post-second world war years, and the Broomhaugh church was closed in the 1960s, the building being sold to Riding Mill Methodist Church.

However the 1980s and 1990s saw new growth especially under the ministry of Andy Fitz-Gibbon, who led the church through charismatic renewal. The church has continued to flourish since the millennium, and seeks to be a significant force for good and for the Kingdom of God in the Tyne Valley and beyond.

Church Interior from 1970s
The interior of the church building in the 1970s.

God has been faithful to the church for more than three and a half centuries and Baptist people have faithfully witnessed to his power and love through many generations. We believe as a church that our story is also a small part of God's story, and we give him thanks for all that he has done: "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." (Psalm 115 verse 1)

If you would like to read a more detailed account of the church's history, please contact us and we can mail you a copy of the booklet Baptists in the Tyne Valley by Paul Revill



Page last modified 10 October 2009 by EKH

Stocksfield Baptist Church
Tel: +44 (0)1661 843710
Email: secretary@stocksfieldbaptistchurch.net