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Southwick Open Air Baptistery

A Grade II Listed Building in Southwick, Wiltshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.2951 / 51°17'42"N

Longitude: -2.2301 / 2°13'48"W

OS Eastings: 384053

OS Northings: 155127

OS Grid: ST840551

Mapcode National: GBR 1SZ.M0X

Mapcode Global: VH972.9QD2

Entry Name: Southwick Open Air Baptistery

Listing Date: 9 February 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1396446

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507726

Location: Southwick, Wiltshire, BA14

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Southwick

Built-Up Area: Southwick

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: North Bradley, Southwick and Heywood

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

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Listing Text

SOUTHWICK

1361/0/10008 WYNSOME STREET
09-FEB-11 Southwick Open Air Baptistery

GV II
Open-air baptistery lying to S of Southwick Bridge, about 100m NW of Southwick Baptist Church, on the E side of Southwick. The baptistery is fed by water from the adjacent stream, the Lambrok, which flows beside it to the NW. The baptismal pool was formalised by the construction of a stone pool and enclosure in 1937. The contractor was Edward Linzey & Son.

A low wall of coursed rubblestone demarcates the rectangular baptistery on four sides, with piers at each corner and marking the gateway into the pool. Wall and piers have a rough stone coping with uneven edges. Wide, irregular stone steps lead from the south-east end of the bridge, taking a quarter-turn to the gateway in the south-east wall of the baptistery; the gateway holds its original wrought-iron gate. Shallow steps lead downwards into the water. The pool is surrounded by a terrace of random stone slabs. Facing the pool, in the NW wall, a stone plaque notes the connection of the baptistery with Southwick Baptist Church, and commemorates the 1937 re-opening.

HISTORY
Southwick was one of the earliest and largest centres of the Baptist movement in Wiltshire, giving rise to many other Particular Baptist communities in the area; this part of the West is known for its strong Baptist tradition. The community was active by the mid-C17, and remained strong throughout the reigns of Charles II and James II, when dissenters were prevented from worshipping freely, with congregations of up to 2000 meeting in covert locations. The Southwick Baptists were encouraged and ministered to at this time by influential Baptist preachers including Andrew Gifford and Thomas Collier. In 1676 it was recorded that 340 of the 440 inhabitants of Southwick and Bradley were nonconformists, and many Baptists came from other parishes to worship at Southwick; after 1689, and throughout the C18, Baptist congregations were established in neighbouring parishes - several as branches of the Southwick church. In 1709 the first Baptist chapel was built at Southwick, within the site now occupied by the car park; in 1815 this was replaced by the present church. In 1861 a second Baptist chapel - the Providence Baptist Chapel (qv)- was established at Southwick by a former pastor of what was then known as the Old Baptist Chapel, the old chapel retained a diminished but loyal following, which revived during the later years of the century.

The formalisation of the open-air baptistery in 1937, on the site of a historic baptismal pool a short distance from the church, demonstrated the continuing support of the congregation. The pool, which had been formed by damming the adjacent stream, the Lambrok, had last been used c1910, since which time baptisms had taken place in the baptistery inside the church. The formalisation was undertaken partly in recognition of the significance of the site for the history of Baptism in the area. The work was paid for by subscription; the contractor was Edward Linzey & Son of Trowbridge. On 22 September 1937 the baptistery was re-opened by H. L. Taylor, President of the Baptist Union, and a re-consecration service was held; the ceremony was attended by large numbers, and the event received considerable press interest. The late-C20 re-building of Southwick Bridge, which lies immediately to the NE, has brought the bridge into closer proximity with the baptistery. Today (2010) the chapel serves an active Baptist community, but the open-air baptistery has not been used since the mid-1990s.

SOURCES
Southwick tithe map, 1846
OS maps published 1887, 1901, 1924
W. Doel, Twenty Golden Candlesticks! (1890)
Wiltshire and Swindon Archives: 486/1; 486/2; 486/15; 486/18; 1164/2; 1164/3
C. Stell, An Inventory of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting-Houses in South-West England (1991)
R. W. Oliver, The Strict Baptist Chapels of England (1968)
N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, The Buildings of England: Wiltshire (1963, 1975)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The open-air baptistery associated with the Baptist Church at Southwick, Wiltshire, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: as a rare surviving example of a structure associated with a significant religious practice
* Historical: the baptistery illustrates the ceremony of adult baptism, once commonly practiced by Baptists in the open-air; Southwick's 1937 structure formalised a historic baptismal pool
* Historical: the Baptist community with which the baptistery is associated has an unusually long history, and was of importance in establishing the strong Baptist tradition in this area
* Group value: with the associated Baptist church of 1815, and with the railings, gates and gateposts which stand outside it, both listed at Grade II.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Reasons for Listing

The open-air baptistery associated with the Baptist Church at Southwick, Wiltshire, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: as a rare surviving example of a structure associated with a significant religious practice
* Historical: the baptistery illustrates the ceremony of adult baptism, once commonly practiced by Baptists in the open-air; Southwick's 1937 structure formalised a historic baptismal pool
* Historical: the Baptist community with which the baptistery is associated has an unusually long history, and was of importance in establishing the strong Baptist tradition in this area
* Group value: with the associated Baptist church of 1815, and with the railings, gates and piers which stand before it, both listed at Grade II.

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