CongtnalChurch
CongtnlChurch

Ivybridge Baptist Church

Formerly the Congregational Church, its early history is not well documented since no records were kept before 1862. The Church minutes book indicates that the date of the commencement of the church to be 1842, but there are records from other sources which indicate that the church was well established long before this date. The Church originally started in a house in Exeter Road which is still standing and called Trehill Lodge.

 

In 1836, James A Moreton became Home Missioner to Ivybridge. He was a travelling evangelist. He left Ivybridge and Lee Mill churches in 1839 and in 1840 he was replaced by Mr Adams who stayed until 1842. It was during the time of the next pastor, James Ellis that the Church moved from the house to a room behind the Bridge Inn or Bridge Cottages. At this period the church was officially recognised by the Congregational authority. In 1856 the hall had to be enlarged as the average congregation was around 120.

 

In the late 1860’s the congregation was still averaging around 90 and it was decided to build a church. John Allen, the owner of Stowford Paper Mill, donated the necessary plot of land and in June 1868 the foundation stone was laid. The church was opened in June 1869 at a cost of £850. Only a sum of £150 had been raised by collections leaving a £700 debt to be repaid. There was no pulpit, music was played on a harmonium, light by gaslight and heating by a tortoise stove. The congregation continued to rise with young men’s bible classes and interest shown in foreign missions.

 

In 1888 it was decided to build a Sunday School behind the church. The Hon. J Mildmay MP laid the foundation stone. In 1890, gas was made available to heat the church. The pipe organ was purchased in 1896 at a cost of £61 from a church in London.

 

During the 1920s the Sunday school thrived. Special outings in ‘a well-scrubbed coal lorry’ owned by Mr Varcoe was always something to be looked forward to. In the late 1920’s they were travelling in more grand style, enjoying the luxury of a char-a-banc belonging to the local garage proprietor Mr Hoare of Park Street and even later they were able to travel by train.

Varcoe
Varcoe lorry
Sunday school outing in the Varcoe lorry

During the 1930s with the country in depression, times were hard in Ivybridge made worse with the paper mill closing for weeks at a time, restricting the income of many families. In 1933 Ivybridge was grouped with Lee Mill and Ugborough and electric lights were installed in the church and school buildings. The average attendance was now only 30.

 

The outbreak of war in 1939 caused many problems within the church with so many men at war. The school room was used by the people fleeing The Blitz in Plymouth when literally hundreds would walk out of the city in search of safer environments. The Red Cross helped by providing mattresses and the church raised money to send comfort parcels to the soldiers.

 

In 1943/44 the American GI’s arrived and many of them attended the church, with the GIs providing their own Gospel Choir. Many built up a good rapport with the local people of Ivybridge.

 

By the 1950s the local badminton club had started under the stewardship of the enthusiastic Marjorie Kelly. The club soon grew to 60 members with a waiting list of children wishing to join.

Packing primroses Congtnl Hall

Operation Primrose

From the early 1960s until the late 1980s, the Congregational Church Hall was taken over each year for a short period by volunteers of Stowford Paper Mill. They were tasked with coordinating the distribution of primroses from Wiggins Teape, the mill’s owner, to all of their customers around Britain. In the early years anyone could pick primroses in return for cash for each bunch of 50 flowers and 5 leaves. Inevitably it was mainly children earning a bit of extra pocket money but later it became restricted to consenting farmer fields only.  Literally thousands of bunches were boxed and sent out each year.

Ivybridge Baptist Church. Photograph courtesy of Ivybridge Camera Club

In modern times the church has been redecorated and the church pews have been removed and replaced with comfortable chairs and smart carpet laid. The reception area has a glass partition making a suitable room for smaller groups.

 

The church has now merged with the Baptist Church and is a member of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.

 

 

Reference: Extracts from Ivybridge Independent Chapel – Congregational Church – A History 1824 – 1993 compiled by Phoebe A Phillips.

Ivybridge Baptist Church

Formerly the Congregational Church, its early history is not well documented since no records were kept before 1862. The Church minutes book indicates that the date of the commencement of the church to be 1842, but there are records from other sources which indicate that the church was well established long before this date. The Church originally started in a house in Exeter Road which is still standing and called Trehill Lodge.
In 1836, James A Moreton became Home Missioner to Ivybridge. He was a travelling evangelist. He left Ivybridge and Lee Mill churches in 1839 and in 1840 he was replaced by Mr Adams who stayed until 1842. It was during the time of the next pastor, James Ellis that the Church moved from the house to a room behind the Bridge Inn or Bridge Cottages. At this period the church was officially recognised by the Congregational authority. In 1856 the hall had to be enlarged as the average congregation was around 120.
In the late 1860’s the congregation was still averaging around 90 and it was decided to build a church. John Allen, the owner of Stowford Paper Mill, donated the necessary plot of land and in June 1868 the foundation stone was laid. The church was opened in June 1869 at a cost of £850. Only a sum of £150 had been raised by collections leaving a £700 debt to be repaid. There was no pulpit, music was played on a harmonium, light by gaslight and heating by a tortoise stove. The congregation continued to rise with young men’s bible classes and interest shown in foreign missions.
In 1888 it was decided to build a Sunday School behind the church. The Hon. J Mildmay MP laid the foundation stone. In 1890, gas was made available to heat the church. The pipe organ was purchased in 1896 at a cost of £61 from a church in London.
During the 1920s the Sunday school thrived. Special outings in ‘a well-scrubbed coal lorry’ owned by Mr Varcoe was always something to be looked forward to. In the late 1920’s they were travelling in more grand style, enjoying the luxury of a char-a-banc belonging to the local garage proprietor Mr Hoare of Park Street and even later they were able to travel by train.
During the 1930s with the country in depression, times were hard in Ivybridge made worse with the paper mill closing for weeks at a time, restricting the income of many families. In 1933 Ivybridge was grouped with Lee Mill and Ugborough and electric lights were installed in the church and school buildings. The average attendance was now only 30.
The outbreak of war in 1939 caused many problems within the church with so many men at war. The school room was used by the people fleeing The Blitz in Plymouth when literally hundreds would walk out of the city in search of safer environments. The Red Cross helped by providing mattresses and the church raised money to send comfort parcels to the soldiers.
In 1943/44 the American GI’s arrived and many of them attended the church, with the GIs providing their own Gospel Choir and many built up a good rapport with the local people of Ivybridge.
By the 1950s the local badminton club had started under the stewardship of the enthusiastic Marjorie Kelly. The club soon grew to 60 members with a waiting list of children wishing to join.
From the early 1960s until the late 1980s, the Congregational Church Hall was taken over each year for a short period by volunteers of Stowford Paper Mill. They were tasked with coordinating the distribution of primroses from Wiggins Teape, the mill’s owner, to all of their customers around Britain. In the early years anyone could pick primroses in return for cash for each bunch of 50 flowers and 5 leaves. Inevitably it was mainly children earning a bit of extra pocket money but later it became restricted to consenting farmer fields only.  Literally thousands of bunches were boxed and sent out each year.
In modern times the church has been redecorated and the church pews have been removed and replaced with comfortable chairs and smart carpet laid. The reception area has a glass partition making a suitable room for smaller groups.
The church has now merged with the Baptist Church and is a member of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.

 

Reference: Extracts from Ivybridge Independent Chapel – Congregational Church – A History 1824 – 1993 compiled by Phoebe A Phillips.