Darkhouse Baptist Chapel

Extracted from William White's "History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Staffordshire" published in 1851

With many thanks to Sue Challenger

The Origins of the Darkhouse Chapel go back to when a Thomas Smith from Brierley Hill, (Staffordshire), Baptist Meeting House went to live in the Deepfields about 1776. He was shorly followed by five others. They began to worship in the week in their houses and went to the Baptist Chapel, Dudley on Sundays.

After seven years they decided to separate from the Dudley Chapel and began to hold meetings in the large kitchen of a farmhouse belonging to a Mr Wassell. This was known as the "Darkhouse" so called because it was completely surrounded by trees which obscured the light. The lane leading to the farm was also known as Dark Lane because it was overshadowed by an avenue of trees.

A record of the founding of this new church is to be found in the Church Minute Book: "On Wednesday, June 18th 1783, met in the fear of the Lord, and. after prayer, Unanimously agreed to separate ourselves from the Church of Christ at the Darkhouse. This was the first meeting upon this solemn occation. Our reason for this is the inconvenience we and our families labour under, being three miles from the Church of Dudley.

It is noted that the Church at Dudley opposed the move.

The names attached to the declaration were Smith. Groucutt.Claridge. Horton. Wassell. Bissell. Waterhouse. Dangerfield. Cornfield. Parkes. Webb. Hill. Mason. Jeavons. Stevens.Skidmore.Wagstaff. Green. Turley. and Lewis.

The group met for worship in the large kitchen of a farmhouse known as the "Darkhouse". A new chapel was opened on 17th December 1785. It was registered for the Particular Baptists in 1787 by Thomas Smith who became the Pastor until his death in 1808. This left the church without a pastor for a period, during which time a division occured resulting in the founding of the Providence Baptist Church, Coseley.

The Darkhouse Chapel Register surrended to the Register General, Pro Reference RG4 2803, starts in 1822 and runs through to 1837. The entries record: Entry Number, when born, Christian name, parent's name, profession, where born, who was present at the birth, when registered and by whom.The sheet numbers given are of double page of the register. There is obviously a large gap between when the church was built and the first entry. Entry number 87 indicates that there was probably a previous register but this was not deposited.

Names include the following.

Adams-Atkiss-Bassett-Beddow-Barnsley-Burton-Cokeman-Cox-Chumbley-Colbourn-Dawson-Dickenson-Evans-Freeth-Green-Granger-Guest-Hatton-Hale-Harrold-Hauldcroft-Jones-Knock-Moreton-Nock -Rollason-Steadman-Seedhouse-Sewhouse-Townsend-Weston-Welch-

Organ built by J. Halmshaw & Sons of Birmingham in 1860

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