The rebuilding of the Church in 1999 was a milestone in the history of one of the oldest Christian communities in Warwick. Its exact foundation date is lost in the confusion of the 17th-century Civil Wars. It certainly existed by 1649 and was probably started by soldiers of the Parliamentarian army. It is the oldest continuing Baptist church in Warwickshire and possibly in the whole of the Midlands.
Castle Hill Baptist’s history is a long one:
Church between 1650 and 1700
Warwick was the host church when in 1655 Baptists from seven Midland churches met to inaugurate the Midland (now the HEBA – Heart of England Baptist Association) Baptist Association During the persecution of non-conformists in the reigns of Charles II and James II the church seems largely to have escaped because James Cooke its minister was a famous surgeon employed and protected by Lord Brooke of Warwick Castle. While persecution lasted, Cooke’s congregation met in private houses, but in 1685 a member named Thomas Hurd bequeathed to it a garden next to the almshouses for use as a burial ground. This was because non-Anglican burial services were not permitted in parish churchyards. On the site there was a house, and Warwick Baptists have worshipped there ever since. The church records are continuous from 1697. They tell a fluctuating story. The original house was replaced in 1700 with the first purpose-built church. In 1707 and 1709 hymn singing was introduced – a daring novelty when metrical psalms were the order of the day. It was the minister’s job to compose the hymns to fit the subject he was to preach on the next Sunday!