Baptist Chapel

Baptist Chapel, Albert Street
Baptist Chapel, Albert Street

The only non-conformist chapel in Jericho which is still in use.

Posted - December 26, 2012

Albert Street Baptist chapel was built in 1881. The earliest record of Baptists in the area is in 1843 when they met at Huggin’s house in Clarendon Place. They were Peculiar Baptists, and Huggins may have been their pastor but in 1869 his house is said to have been in King Street. Whether Huggins moved or whether Clarendon Place was an earlier name for King Street is not clear but there is no Clarendon Place on the 1850 map.

By the time the chapel was built most of Albert Street had been developed piece-meal between 1860 and the 1870s. The southern end between Nelson Street and Wellington Street existed even earlier as these two streets were both known as New College Lane and the carts bringing coal up from the wharf at the foot of Nelson Street came this way before the wall of Smith’s Close was taken down. The slow growth resulted because of the need to drain the ground before it could be used for housing. For Albert Street marks the line which divided the higher, drier ground to the east from the low lying, waterlogged meadows along the canal. The land was sold off in plots to individual owners, many of whom lived in one and rented the others out as a source of income and, as the land was drained, the roads leading down to Albert Street were extended. The cottages were typical of housing for the working classes at the time, two-up, two-down with a through passage leading to a long back yard, but by this time the earlier cesspits and wells were being replaced by outside toilets and piped water. The style, however, changed from Georgian features to Gothic but recent replacements of windows and doors has changed the overall aspect of the street. The chapel itself is an excellent example of Gothic architecture and taste.

As in the rest of Jericho the extent of renovation or demolition in the 1970s varied. Some parts such as Albert Place, a small courtyard on the west side of the street containing 5 tumbledown houses, were completely demolished and rebuilt and the owner taken into care, having lost her sole source of income which had been from her rents. It was cases like that which led to the formation of the Jericho Residents’ Association. This was a voluntary group of residents who advised those unhappy about the compensation offered for their homes and negotiated with the Council to reduce the amount of disruption to the lives of those displaced temporarily or permanently. Much of the success of this experiment in urban renewal was due to the climate of co-operation between the people of jericho and the city councillors and their officials. Albert Street is a good example of what can be achieved.

Even so the congregation tends to live outside Jericho, only coming in on the Sabbath and at times of special religious observance. As a result there has been little identification with the local residents although the congregation has at times contributed financially to local causes. Nor has there been any conflict with the largest immigrant communities now living in Jericho which is Muslim, consisting of Pakistanis since the 1947 Partition, Ugandan Asians evicted by Idi Amin and Lebanese refugees. The Lebanese restaurant at the junction of Walton Crescent and Richmond Road is also the Lebanese social centre.

This is an extract from the Jericho Sketchbook

Did you know?

Where we work?

According to the 2001 Census, in Jericho 28% of those working were self-employed, while 18% worked part time. Around 20% were in higher professional occupations compared with 14% for Oxford. We also tend to work nearby: 72% of people worked within five kilometres of their home; 18% went to work on foot, 13% by car and 6% by bike

How religious we are?

In the 2001 Census, some 50% of Jericho residents said they were Christian, 2.2% Muslim, 1.9% Buddhist and 1.2% professed other religions, while 34% of people said they had no religion. In Oxford as a whole the proportion with no religion was 24%.