Great Ellingham Baptist Church was founded on September 29th 1699, just 10 years after the Act of Toleration had allowed Nonconformist churches to have their own places of worship for the first time. 12 founding members, including the first pastor, John Wright, signed a Covenant pledging “to walk with one another to the Glory of God and the Edification of each other in love.” The Covenant was accompanied by 17 Articles of Faith, outlining what the church believed. The Covenant is still read annually and, together with the Articles of Faith, form the basis of what we believe as a church.
The church initially met in a thatched barn on land bequeathed by an Elizabeth Asty, whose cottage still stands in the chapel grounds. The growth of the village means that the Chapel is now fairly central, but when the church was founded it would have been on the very edge of the village, like most nonconformist church buildings of the time.
The current chapel, a Grade II listed building, was built in 1824 and opened on November 4th at a cost of £540. Much of the building cost was met by Jeremiah Colman (of Colman’s Mustard fame) who attended the church and is commemorated on a brass plaque in the chapel.
The church established the first Village School in 1855, built on an adjoining orchard, and the school remained there until the current premises were built in 1896.