In 1793 Mr George Seaman who attended Diss Baptist Church started having Christian meetings on weekday evenings at his home Athelington Hall Farm. By the late 1790’s the idea of starting a church in Horham gathered momentum.
On 18th June 1799 Horham Baptist Church was formally constituted by a meeting of 16 people (13 of whom were previously members at Diss). A few weeks later, Edward Manser, aged 24 from Shelfanger in Norfolk, was appointed as the first pastor. In September of that year, on a piece of land donated by Mr Culham, (a farmer from Wilby) a timber building (40 feet long and 24 feet wide) was completed at a total cost of £225 and 16 shillings.
Growing congregations in the first few years meant the addition of a gallery and an extension to the building as well as the installation of a baptistry. A stable outside was built for those travelling to services by horse and cart. A hundred years later in 1904 a “lean-to” was added to the stables to accommodate “perambulators and bicycles”.
Records from church meetings in the early 1800’s show close links to and support of congregations in Stradbroke, Earl Soham and Fressingfield. References to a Sunday School date back to 1818.
In the 1850’s the church continued to grow. A house for the pastor was built in 1856 and in 1859 the original church building was replaced. According to documents of the time the new chapel building was ” a substantial and commodious structure, calculated to hold 900 persons … a neat and suitable village sanctuary”. A school room and vestries were added as part of the new building. However heating was not installed until 1894!, three years after an organ had been purchased to “assist the singers”.
In the 20th century the church continued to develop and grow. Additional land was purchased in 1956 which today provides safe off road parking for all our events and activities. The current manse near the top of Chapel Lane was built in 1967 following the sale of the original building. The main church building that we use today includes a large hall, big kitchen, spacious foyer and excellent loos, all of which were added in the 1980’s.
PASTORS OF HORHAM BAPTIST CHURCH
In the 200 or so years since the church was founded in 1799, there have been 12 pastors, each serving on average 15 years.
1799 – 1816: Edward Manser
1817 – 1845: Matthew Harvey
1847 – 1855: James Galpine
1855 – 1876: Thomas Hoddy
1878 – 1901: J R Debnam
1906 – 1915: Charles Welsford
1916 – 1933: H Morris Winch
1934 – 1963: Stanley Oxborrow
1975 – 1985: Bryan C Brown
1986 – 1994: Micheal Healy
1997 – 2006: Simon Ladd
2013 – present: Adam Blowes