We are in Cambridge for a Wedding Anniversary break and on 2 December 2021 (37 years and 364 days since that Fateful Day) we walked along to St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church. I realised that, although we worshipped here for three years and were married here, I know nothing about the history of the church. The website helps – https://www.stasbaptist.org/Groups/239182/Our_History.aspx – and I hope they don’t mind if I use a couple of their photos.
On 16 April 1721 a group of Christians took over the stable and granary that was on this site, and started a new church. Forty years later the Reverend Robert Robinson took over a congregation of 34 people in a “damp, dark, cold, ruinous, contemptible hovel”. A few later they pulled down the old building and replaced it with a chapel large enough to seat 600 – he must have been quite a leader. In 1791 the Reverend Robert Hall came to the church. He was “a fine scholar and great preacher” and the church was enlarged to take about 200 people. In our day the Student Baptist Society was the Robert Hall Society and I was President for a year. Nowadays the RHS in my life is the Royal Horticultural Society! A new church was built in 1836, and replaced by the current one in 1903. This picture dates to soon after the completion of this building.
Church Halls were added onto the back of the site. One summer Julie and I spent a week or so cleaning and sorting. We tried washing the curtains, they disintegrated. Mike Quicke, the minister, told us not to worry “They’ve been there for years. Robert Hall blew his nose on them.” Mike married us in 1983, the same year the Church Council agreed to build the new Stone Yard Centre. There has been a café here, but that is now closed. We rang the doorbell and a young lady came and welcomed us into the church. Most of the pews have gone, removed a decade ago, and I was sad to see the worship band has replaced the organ – I’m just a boring old traditionalist.
The window behind the pulpit was erected to commemorate members of the congregation who died in WW1. The window depicts three characters from “Pilgrim’s progress” – Freedom in the centre, Truth on the left and Faithful on the right.
They obviously have a busy church and a busy ministry, and I am so grateful for that. No doubt it has its challenges, as everywhere does (especially at the moment). We remain very, very grateful for our three years here – and remember a wedding day with joy.
One more personal pause while here. We went down Downing Street and onto the New Museums Site to have a look at the refurbished Zoology Museum. My grandad, Len Hoskison, was caretaker here for many years. I would go and find him on my way home from school and he would find me jobs to do. I remembered the whale, plenty of butterflies, the dioramas, and some jars with interesting things inside. Lovely to go back. I wonder what grandad would have made of it having a shop and a café. We patronised them both.