The current Baptist church, completed in 1937, retains the walls of the 1867 church that burnt down in 1936. However, there has been a Baptist presence in the town since 1688, when Baptists first established themselves in Henley as part of the Alcester branch. Permission to hold services in Henley was granted in 1711. The minister, Rev. John Beddome, purchased a building just north of the present church, now known as the Manse, which became his residence and a place of worship in 1712. His son Benjamin was born in the Manse in 1717. Benjamin went on to be ordained as the pastor of the Baptist church at Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds in 1743. He became renowned as a hymn writer and composed over 830 hymns in his lifetime.
A much-needed chapel, described in contemporary accounts as ‘a neat brick building,’ was built in 1822, and later replaced by a larger church in 1867 funded by the wealthy industrialist G. F. Muntz of nearby Umberslade Hall. This church was designed by Birmingham architect George Ingall in a revived Gothic or Decorated style. In 1877, Muntz and Ingall collaborated again to build the splendid and rare nonconformist estate chapel Umberslade Baptist Church. Although built on a larger scale, it copied the same style as Henley’s Baptist church. Both churches were built of blue lias stone with steeply pitched gabled roofs in welsh slate, enriched with pinnacles, finials, buttressing and traceried circular windows.
The building was badly damaged by a fire in 1936 which only left the walls and tower standing. The current church was rebuilt by F. B. Andrews retaining the shell of the original church and it re-opened in September 1937.
Today, the church also has a hall that is used by many local groups and societies.
More information: www.henley-in-arden-baptist-church.org.uk