Our Church History

Catherine Street Baptist Church History

1620   Certain Baptists with other Christians “kindly  entertained and courteously used” the Pilgrim Fathers prior to their departure from the Barbican in the Mayflower on September 6th, then separating to found the Church in the homes of its first members, destined to exercise a fruitful  influence over almost four centuries.

 1648  Abraham Cheare was baptised and joined the Church, later received the Church’s call signed by 150 members and was ordained pastor

 1651   The Church purchased land in the Pig Market and “appropriated a house for divine worship”; later building the first meeting house.

 1668   Abraham Cheare persecuted and imprisoned for his faith on  Drake’s Island where he suffered virtual martyrdom at the early age of 42.

 1751   Because of its dilapidated state the first Pig Market Church was rebuilt and reopened June 30th.

 1789   The congregation moved to premises in Howe Street, first  rented and later purchased. This became known as the Howe Street Church.

 1843   The Deacons issued a circular drawing the attention of the congregation to the need for a larger place of worship.

 1844   Land peculiarly suitable for the site of the new Church was obtained in George Street and the foundation stone of the new building was laid May 15th.

1845   The completed Church was publicly opened on September 17th.

 1864   Additional land adjoining the Church was purchased for new school rooms.

1865  These commodious school rooms were publicly opened on January 26th.

1941    On the night of March 20th-21st during the Blitz the entire Church and school were destroyed.

 1941   Resolute members determined to continue worship first at Mutley, later atLower Street Mission and finally in the Catholic Apostolic Church in nearby Princess Street. They envisaged reconstruction but suffered a set back by the compulsory acquisition of the site by the City. The prolonged negotiations for a comparable site appeared doomed to failure.

1957    Successful direct negotiations at national level made acquisition of the present costly site possible. The old site is now significantly marked by the open space in front of the Civic Centre.

 1957   Commencement of the present building marked by stone laying ceremony on November 2nd. Two stones recovered from the ruins of the old Church were laid, one by Nancy, Vicountess Astor and the other by church Secretary John Cottrell.

1958   The new Church, largely conceived by the Minister, Rev. H. D. Hilliard, who did not live to see its fruition, was designed by Louis de Soissons partnership. Many interesting features include: the east front façade facing the pedestrian precinct: a cobbled quadrangle, reminder of the early association with the Pilgrim Fathers: the tablets which record the locations of the Church and the distinguished line of ministers. The Church was opened on November 29th in the afternoon followed by an evening induction service commencing the ministry of the Reverend D.H.Pascoe.

 1959   The spire was added.

 1960   A remarkable Mural by Hans Feibusch, a refugee German Jew, representing, in the artistic language of our time, the baptism of Christ, was unveiled and dedicated.

 1982   The Church renamed Catherine Street Baptist Church.