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Lesser Spotted Baptist History

Tribe of Dan.jpgThere is an awful lot of Baptist history to be found in books and a lot of the overviews - at least so far as English Baptist history is concerned - tell a consistent tale of the effective triumph of Particular Baptists.  Lesser known but vital to the story are the New Connexion General Baptists, of which Dibley is one of the earliest.  It gives me a mixture of odd pride and strange bewilderment to think that the new Connexion held some of their Assemblies, most probably, in the pub (then a farmhouse) opposite my front door and may well have worshipped in the wooden chapel that stood on what is now our graveyard.

The Tribe of Dan is a lovingly written work by Revd Dr Frank Rinaldi who tells the story of the emergence of this strand of Baptist Christianity alongside and amongst the framework knitting industry that spread across this area at the same time.  Sadly due to ill health, Frank needed editorial health in turning his PhD thesis into a book.  I count myself privileged to have been loaned the original manuscript a few years back when I was trying to uncover something of this story.  So big thanks to Graham Doel and others who did the editorial work - and if you want a few tiny glimpses of the glory days of Dibley Baptist Church when it was part of an exciting new movement spawned by Dan Taylor (Dan of the title) and centred on the delightfully named Barton-in-the-Beans have a read.

Sadly Barton is no longer a Baptist church (FIEC we think) but there is a tiny Barton and Dibley Trust which pays my folk the princely sum of £6 a year - when the interest rate exists!  I just wish I knew what it's original purpose was and what it's founders might make of it all...


  • My first recollection of Barton-in-the-Beans is getting lost on the way back from a family holiday in Scotland circa 1976. Rather than travel further south along the M1 to the M6 junction and then double back to our home in Atherstone, my father drew a straight line in the RAC road atlas from exit 21 to our house and told me to navigate the closest route along it. We spent two hours thoroughly lost in rural Leicestershire, a mere 20 miles from home, and every direction sign we passed seemed to point to Barton-in-the-Beans! Perhaps this is how the New Connexion originally built up their congregations?

    Conversely, I reported the direction sign to Attleborough Baptist Church as missing last week, only to realise a few days later that the lampost to which it was attached had disappeared as well! I suspect an undercover group of miltant Dawkinsite atheists. Who else these days would go to such lengths either to advance or undermine the furtherance of Baptist religion?

    I will certainly add this long-awaited work to my growing list of books I would like to own but can't afford at the moment!

  • When I was minister at Higham Way, Hinckley, I used to preach regularly at Barton-in-the-Beans and a number of other local churches because, for much of my time at Higham Way, we only had a morning service.

    In fact, I was preaching at Barton the day that my son was born. He was born 10 weeks premature - my wife had gone into hospital a day or two earlier, and went into labour that Sunday. I think that the service I took that day was the shortest service I have ever taken - I hope I didn't speed their departure from the Baptist family.

    I remember very fondly the churches at Barton, Barlestone, Newbold Verdon and Wolvey - but I don't think I ever got to Dibley.

    (Sorry, didn't mean to hijack this topic with personal reminiscences)

  • Andy - yes there certainly are an awful lot of signs for said village.

    David - no problem, good to hear your reminiscences, I had not 'clicked' that you had spent time in this general (General?) area. I'm sure B-i-t-B was capable of leaving the Union all by itself with no help from anyone. I have checked - it is listed by FIEC as Barton Fabis Baptist Church (trying to go all posh and Latin on us all obviously)

    Good to know how Dan's tribe spreads its tentacles to this day!

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