Our History

Baptists in Eden Valley

Baptists first came to the Eden Valley area from Leeds, Bradford, Bedale, Masham, Hamsterley and Middleton-in-Teesdale. Baptists and associated Independents worked closely together in this area between 1799 and 1812, worshipping in various buildings and houses.

Building their presence in Westmorland, the Baptists built numerous Eden Valley Churches and Preaching Stations during the 19th Century, including Brough (1834), Winton (1842), Sunbiggin (1845), Wygill Head (1845), Kelleth (1845), Crosby Garrett (1856), Great Asby (1862), Little Asby (1883) and finally constructing the Victoria Square Church Kirkby Stephen in 1891.

The Westmorland Group Of Baptist Churches

The Westmorland Group of Baptists constitution and membership roll was established by Rev W.Nelson between 1947 and 1951, bringing together the four remaining Baptist Churches in the area; Crosby Garrett, Great Asby, Winton and Kirkby Stephen.

However in 1989 Winton formed a Local Ecumenical Partnership (LEP) with Methodists and the Westmorland Group disbanded in 1992. Today Great Asby remains a Baptist Church, whilst Crosby Garrett has formed another LEP with local Methodists.

Crosby Garrett in turn has united with Kirkby Stephen in 1994 to form what is today the popular congregation of the Upper Eden Baptist Church.

2010 saw extensive work to modernise the Upper Eden Baptist Church building making it more relevant to the Christian worship of today.

At the core of the process has been the removal of the dark wooden pews, making the space brighter, more flexible and more welcoming. Carpeting has been added to the warmth of the space, while also making it less ‘acoustically’ live.

In addition the improvements have made the interior visible and inviting from the outside.

The first stage of the work comprised the demolition of the outside toilets and construction of new ones with disabled access and a porch at the rear.

The third stage has been the building of a new kitchen facility in the rear room.

In 2015 we made extensive changes to the main hall, turning the chairs through 90 degrees and installing projection and sound equipment.