Webpage created: July 19, 2017
Webpage updated: March 21, 2020
GEORGE STREET BAPTIST CHAPEL
George Street Baptist Chapel was situated on the south-eastern side of George Street, Plymouth. It no longer exists.
The imposing frontage of George Street Baptist
Looking across the ruins of George Street,
When the Baptist congregation at the Howe Street Baptist Chapel in Plymouth outgrew its premises, a plot of land in George Street adjoining the Baptists' burial ground was purchased for the purpose of erecting a larger place of worship. Mr W Prance laid the foundation stone on Wednesday May 15th 1844 during a service conducted by the Reverend Samuel Nicholson.
On Sunday September 14th 1845the Reverend Nicholson, who had been the Baptist Pastor for 23 years, held two special services in Howe Street Chapel to commemorate the forthcoming move to the new Chapel.
The following Wednesday, September 17th 1845, a special prayer meeting was held for the last time at Howe Street Baptist Chapel and at 11am that morning George Street Baptist Chapel was opened for worship. The service was opened by the Reverend T C Hine, of Batter Street Chapel, and the Reverend W Jay, of Bath, preached the first sermon. Naturally the event was followed by a luncheon.
George Street Baptist Chapel was designed by Mr George Wightwick, of Plymouth, and was constructed by Mr Elliott, also of Plymouth, whose workmen were praised for their conduct during the building work. The cost of the land and building was about £4,600.
The building measured 85 feet in length by 55 feet width and was about 45 feet from the ground to the top of the cornice. The pediment over the main entrance added about another 10 feet to the height at that point. Projecting from the front was a Corinthian arcaded porch constructed entirely of Caen stone that measured 35 feet by 10 feet and had a height of 23 feet. Above the porch were three arched windows with Caen stone dressings.
Plymouth limestone was used for the remainder of the building, at the rear of which were vestries and other rooms. Above these rooms were class-rooms approached from outside by flights of stone steps over the porches leading to the vestries. This rear portion measured 53 feet in length by 23 feet width and was 28 feet high.
Internally its most distinctive feature was the ceiling, which was plastered 'in imitation of intersecting beams, forming deeply sunk panels, moulded in continuous harmony with the cornice'. There were galleries above the entrance end and along two sides, supported on bronzed iron pillars, while at the inner end was a large arched alcove surmounted by an inscription, and flanked by two niches. The entire width of the alcove contained a projecting pulpit stage, with a centrally placed, panelled compartment for the preacher, all enclosed within bronzed iron railings. Adjacent to the stage was the Baptistery, which was concealed beneath the boarding of a pew enclosure, which was removed for baptism ceremonies.
Additional land was purchased in 1864 and the George Street Day School was opened on January 26th 1865. The school was enlarged in 1892.
Sadly, the Chapel and the School were destroyed during the Blitz of March 1941 and the congregation were forced to move first to Mutley and then the Lower Street Mission before finally finding a home at the Catholic Apostolic Church in Princess Street in the heart of the City.
It was envisaged that the Chapel would be rebuilt but that plan vanished when the City Council compulsorily purchased the site for the reconstructed city centre.
A new Chapel was erected in Catherine Street. At first it was know as the Old George Street Baptist Chapel but in 1982 was renamed the Catherine Street Baptist Chapel.