Bible Christians in Basingstoke
For a short period during the second half of the nineteenth century, there was a Bible Christian presence in Basingstoke. Although there are relatively few traces of this branch of Methodism in the town, from the surviving evidence it is possible to provide a broad outline. There is no reference to Bible Christians in the 1851 Religious Census, but a Bible Christian chapel is shown on an Ordnance Survey map of 1871/3. It was situated on Wote Street near the junction with Goat Lane. Thus, it can be assumed that the cause was established between 1851 and 1871. A surviving indenture indicates that chapel premises were opened in 1871 with William Hill as the minister. It is likely that prior to that the Bible Christians met in the homes of members. The denomination is only listed in one trade directory, that of 1875 when the minister was Rev. E. Yemm.
Further evidence comes in the form of references in reports which appeared in the Hampshire Advertiser. In one dating from 1868 about a series of London Missionary Society sermons, mention is made of the Bible Christian Sunday School scholars, along with those from the Primitive Methodist and London Street chapels, attending. In addition, a report from 1870 records an amateur concert being held in the ‘schoolroom adjoining the London Street Congregational Chapel’ in aid of funds for the Bible Christian chapel. ‘The room was well filled, and the performers were frequently applauded.’ The previously mentioned indenture indicates that the chapel premises were sold to Edwin Glanville, a grocer, in 1878. Thus, the Bible Christian Chapel is no longer shown on an Ordnance Survey map of 1894/6. It is possible that the cause did not survive the removal from Basingstoke of a number of its leaders. For example, the indenture refers to ‘William Hill formerly of Basingstoke, Grocer but now of Crondall, aforesaid Bible Christian Minister.’ Significantly, perhaps, there was a Bible Christian presence in Crondall.
Although Basingstoke’s Bible Christian chapel had a life of less than 10 years its existence is evidence of the evangelistic zeal of the various branches of Methodism during the nineteenth century. It is probable that when it closed the remaining Bible Christians joined either the Primitive Methodists or Wesleyan Methodists, both denominations having chapels in the town. Despite an extensive search no images of the Bible Christian chapel have been found.
Content derived during research for the new VCH Hampshire volume, Basingstoke and its surroundings.