The Baptist Church in Hook Norton is one of the oldest in existence, tracing its roots back to the 1640s. Not surprisingly it has an interesting history: the first pastor James Wilmot was imprisoned for six months in 1664 for preaching! In the era before cars, horses and traps would converge on the church from surrounding farms and villages, some people would travel for over an hour on foot for Sunday Worship.
In May 2010 we celebrated the origins of our fellowship, our forefathers in faith, who struggled to worship God in the way they believed was right; and some of the people and events down the years that faithfully witness to God’s grace here in Hook Norton.
Nowadays our buildings still give away some secrets from the past. The Georgian chapel building is set at the far end of our land and was once almost out of sight from the road, dating from an era when “dissenters” although tolerated, had to be kept out of sight!
The chapel was rebuilt in 1787 on a plot first made available to Baptists in 1718 by a generous bequest. The Victorian box pews were removed in 1970s to make way for comfortable individual seats, but the balcony (also Victorian) still remains. A separate Hall was built in 1873 and has been in regular use by village and church organisations, and for many years served as part of the village school.
The Hall facilities were extended in 2004 and now include a new kitchen, toilets, disabled facilities and an upper meeting room.
The church is about to undertake a renovation to remove damp, install insulation and a low-energy heating system amongst other improvements. The ethos is to return the chapel to its original Georgian character and remove unsightly 20th century lighting and heating fittings.