A History of YALDING, Kent, England


The history of the non-conformist church membership stems from the establishment of the Anglican Church, when recognition of individual freedom of conscience, found expression in various groups holding different convictions of faith.
From these origins emerged the Congregationalists, Methodists and Baptists, although much persecution followed and many sub divisions split from these early groups.
A particular group who rigorously opposed infant Baptism were the Anabaptists, and a local couple who were determined to defend their convictions, have the fact recorded in our registers: -
" April 16th, 1693.  Nathaniel Roe and  Elizabeth Stone married in their own congregation at an Anabaptist meeting."
The life of the Baptist Church in Yalding survived alternate periods of decay and revival. A small group of General Baptists were here in 1772, when the central Association were arranging to supply them with preachers. Later there was a proposal to revive the local chapel in 1802, and in fact up until 1825 it was included in the lists of member churches, but it rarely sent a report or representative. At this time the Meeting House was in Collier Street situated almost opposite the present YMCA hall. An 1871 census records that of the Free Churches, there were 40 Bible Christians in Yalding, 80 Primitive Methodists who were using a chapel built in the centre of Laddingford, plus the Baptists at Collier Street. At the early part of the 20th century there were a group of Plymouth Brethren using a low thatched meeting room just pass the Woolpack Inn on the opposite side of the road.
It proved possible with the aid of the Baptist Union to later place an Evangelist here. Work went well, and in five years a small chapel was built in Yalding. The church appears in the Associations list in 1892 and it's membership is given as 64, and for many years the Association supported the work with annual grants.
One of the prime movers for founding Baptist churches in both Kent and Sussex during the latter half of the 19th century was Evangelist, Charles Haddon Spurgeon." He  founded Spurgeon's College, London, in 1856 and between then and his death in 1892 he trained nearly 900 men for the Ministry. At the time he died the chapel mentioned above was in the process of completion. It was appropriately dedicated in his memory, and the Spurgeon Memorial Chapel still stands in Vicarage Road, Yalding. The finance for this project was supplied mainly from the Kendon family of Goudhurst. The foundation stone quotes this fact. Also included in this scheme which cost a total of £ 715 were the adjoining pair of houses which carry the name of "Haddon" Villas.
The initial interest in this venture was fostered by William Turner, farmer of Benover, and Frank Sales, Ironmonger of Laddingford, with the financial assistance of William Charles Kendon, and nurtured through its early years by its first Pastor, the Rev’d Edward Charles Chapman.
In recent times the story is a familiar one with dwindling numbers for small village churches, the only surviving chapel along Vicarage Road temporally closed in 1974. One year later the Maidstone Baptist Church adopted the chapel for use as a Youth Centre, and after nine years the Maidstone YMCA Sports-centre took on the lease to form the present Youth Centre. This was 1984, but in 1987 the Baptist Union who owned the property said that it must continue as a Baptist Chapel, or be sold. So since November 1988 fortnightly meetings have been held under a lay leadership, enabling the building to be used for various village activities.