18th Century Exterior
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The original external timber-framing was covered up with plasterwork. This was done to make the building more weatherproof and perhaps look more ‘fashionable’.
Tall windows were put into the wall facing the alleyway, replacing the original medieval mullioned windows. Even in the 18th century glass was still expensive, so the cut panes would have been small and would have been joined together using dividing bars called cames. By using cames, large panels of glass could be made, sometimes referred to as leaded glass.
Conversion into a Baptist meeting house
The first specific reference to the building being used by the Baptists as a meeting house dates from 1711. The conversion of the Old Baptist Chapel into a recognisable place of worship probably took place sometime after the 1689 Act of Toleration, although no licenses for Baptist meetings were issued under the 1672 Royal Declaration of Indulgence Act which attempted to extend religious liberty to Protestant nonconformists, as well as Roman Catholics.
Further architectural alterations occurred throughout the eighteenth century which turned the building into a recognisable place of worship, although it is difficult to date these precisely. It is important to remember that for Baptists ‘the Church’ refers more to the congregation than to the actual place of worship; which stems from their persecution and therefore the tradition of Baptists meeting in private houses.