The early history of Baptism in Southampton is obscure. There are references to a congregation in the years 1689 and 1703 under the pastorate of Richard King, their meeting house being in an unspecified location in Blue Anchor Lane. A congregation existed prior to 1750, worshipping in a meeting house in the St Mary's district. This meeting house was sold in 1764 and a new one erected on the east side of St Mary Street midway between Coleman Street and Cumberland Street (on a site later occupied by Albion Chapel). This meeting house being too small was replaced by a larger one on the same site in 1796. In 1800 the congregation decided to move to a more central location and a new chapel was built in York Buildings, off the north side of East Street. In 1818 another new chapel was built on the south side of East Street, opposite York Buildings (image 1). The building endured into the 20th century and was converted to a cinema in 1911. It was demolished before 1940.
An offshoot of the East Street congregation formed a new congregation in 1840 and met for services in the Royal Victoria Rooms on Portland Terrace until, in 1843, the new Portland Chapel(image 2) was opened also on Portland Terrace. After a division in this congregation in 1859, Carlton Chapel (image 3) in Belle Vue Road was opened in 1865. Portland Chapel was destroyed in the Blitz of 1940; Carlton Chapel survived until 1968.
Another offshoot of the East Street chapel was Bitterne Baptist Chapel, built in 1844 in Chapel Street at the expense of William Francis Mayott, Deacon of East Street Baptist Church. The chapel did not prosper and was acquired by the local Anglican community in 1849.
A History of Southampton, by Rev. J Sylvester Davies, p430-2. (HS/h)
Three centuries of Nonconformity in Southampton and District, (exhibition brochure). (HS/j)
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