This month Moira Ackers shares with us the delightful Monksthorpe Baptist Chapel.
This Chapel was recently featured in the Chapels Society Newsletter 63. The mention of its surviving outdoor baptistry started a bit of a debate about how many outdoor baptistries do in fact exist. If you wish to follow this discussion in can be found in Newsletters 64, 65 & 66. Having visited this chapel on a February day of horizontal sleet and rain, I just hope the use of the baptistry was limited to the summer. To my horror the guide to the chapel suggests the baptistry was filled with water from the nearby dyke.
Monksthorpe Baptist Chapel is now part of the National Trust’s Gunby Hall Estate and is run in partnership with The Friends of Monksthorpe. It was built in 1701 for a community founded as early as 1669. Made to look like a barn, out in the Lincolnshire Wolds, at a time when although the Act of Toleration had been passed in 1689, dissenters may still have feared persecution the Chapel was well concealed and out of the way.
The key for the Chapel is available at Gunby Hall after making a £20 deposit; at the moment no map or directions are available with the key. (Perhaps the National Trust should provide a laminate copy of a map and directions and Monksthorpe is not easy to find. Some reassurance that one is on the right track, down a narrow road with ditches to either side would have been appreciated.) So, Monksthorpe is still well concealed, but it is well worth the effort as it is located in a very atmospheric part of rural Lincolnshire.
The interior is dated to the 1840s, when it was refurbished. The simplicity of the chapel is striking. A pan tiled floor with wooden pews and modest central pulpit. Underneath this is the patron Hugh Ayscombe’s tomb. A balcony is over the vestries and there’s a delightful potbellied stove. The choir have their own pews with doors to the left of the pulpit and to the right there is a harmonium. The Chapel is surrounded by domestic buildings for a caretaker which included stables and a pig sty. The Orchard is now a wildlife reservation area.
Services are still held once a month so see the website for details .For any “chapel crawler” this is well worth a visit and could be easily included on an interesting day out in an overlooked beauty spot.