Church between 1700 and 1986
Membership was never large – in the 18th century it was between 30 and 100, but there were generally plenty of ‘hearers’, that is people who attended but without being baptised as adults. After only forty years a new church had to be built. Its most famous preacher was John Cohen Rylands who came in 1746 and was ordained here in 1750. Three years later his even more famous son, co-founder of the Baptist Missionary Society, was born at Warwick. In 1799 a Sunday School was commenced.
By 1820 the church had fallen on hard times and it was only saved from closure by the efforts of a young deacon named Lawrence Tatham. Later the bitterly fought 1831 and 1832 Reform Bill elections split the church but it recovered quickly and in 1840 the building was enlarged by taking in some of the garden. That proved inadequate and in 1866 a large Victorian gothic church and schoolroom was built. This covered almost the whole site, including the graveyard. When it was demolished in 1998, a time capsule was discovered which revealed that the church was designed by a Birmingham architect and built by a local builder at a cost of about £1600.
In 1905 the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Midland Baptist Association was celebrated with a remodelled interior of the building and the installation of a pipe organ. ‘Open membership’ was finally adopted in 1930 (i.e. allowing people to become members who may not have been baptised as adults). The next year, classrooms were fitted in to the space that remained and with that addition the building continued in use until 1986.