Baptist Chapel, Upwell - A Fenland Mystery
The Baptist Chapel is on the south side of Upwell on the road out to Three Holes and Christchurch.
It dates from about 1840 onwards - and has a substantial cemetery. The Upwell area was a hotbed
of Non-Conformism and with this Cemetery being the only Non-Conformist Cemetery, Methodists and Baptists
alike are buried there - including many RUSSELLs, CAWTHORNS, SCOTTs, & FORTHs from my Family Tree.
Possibly the grave of The grave of my Gt Gt Grandparents, The grave of John FORTH and
George and Bridget RUSSELL John RUSSELL & Ann HIAM Rebecca Ann CAWTHORN
All photos © Ann McClean
I am now trying to locate the whereabouts of the Registers from the Baptist Chapel.
I was told at the chapel in March 2002, when looking at headstones, that the registers were at the
C.R.O. at Cambridge only to find that they are not; much to their great concern - especially as they
spoke to someone at the Chapel and learned that they had simply assumed that because they no longer
had the registers, they must have been deposited at Cambridge!.
They are not at the Fenland Museum in Wisbech or the Norfolk Record Office in Norwich,
nor at the Baptist Union HQ at Didcot.
This/these will be the original Minute Book/s dating back to when the chapel opened in abt 1840.
AND THEN I noted the following from the Fenland Family History Society January 2004 Newsletter:
"It has been brought to our attention that the Baptist Church in Upwell is to be sold.
We know that it has a graveyard ... and [have] been given permission for us to go there and record
the inscriptions on the gravestones."
On 7 February, I e-mailed the "Wisbech Standard" about my concern regarding the whereabouts of the
Minute Book/s and they were kind enough to print my letter - which led to Radio Cambridgeshire contacting
me to speak on Jane Smith's early morning show about the missing Minute Books/Registers.
They were quite intrigued with the whole story, and hoped that their interest would help.
18th February - My letter to the "Wisbech Standard" has borne fruit - an old acquaintance from my childhood
has contacted my parents about the Baptist Chapel Minute Book - apparently it/they went missing years ago,
and no-one has any idea where they are. This gentleman was an Official of the chapel from the mid-1980s to
the late 1990s, and he has never seen the Minute Books.
Also, the last burial - for MEANS -in the Baptist Cemetery was about 1983-84.
My view - now - is that the Minute Book/s has/have either been thrown away in a House Clearance because
no-one knew what it was, OR it's sitting on someone's book shelf, or it's in a box, stored away somewhere,
again without that someone realising what they've got, OR it's on someone's bookshelf and they know full
well what they've got. :(
I have visited the Chapel many times since 2002 and taken many, many pictures as there are 2 graves in
particular that I am looking for - my Gt Gt Gt Grandparents, George & Bridget RUSSELL buried in 1860 & 1861,
and also that of my SCOTT Gt Gt Gt Grandparents, John & Sarah, buried in 1900 and 1908 respectively.
"You should also note that anybody buying the property would have to to observe the terms of
The Disused Burial Grounds (Amendment) Act 1981, which requires that before removing any human remains,
or before any work is undertaken which, although not involving the disturbance of human remains,
would render any grave inaccessible, or before removing any tombstones, monuments or other memorials,
that advertisements be published and notices be given and displayed according to the detailed requirements
of that Act."
But after seeing what's happened at St. Peter's, Upwell & at Christchurch Methodist Chapel, with old
headstones being cleared away and broken up, I just hope that this doesn't happen there as well.
||The Baptist Chapel|
Cambridgeshire &/or Norfolk
AUGUST 2005 - The damage has been done.
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This page created 18 February 2004
and amended/updated 21:35 10/01/2018
** AUGUST 2006 - This is what the Chapel looks like NOW NO mention of the 185+ graves,
including a WW2 War Grave