Baptists had been meeting in Northchurch since at least 1665 but in the early years of the nineteenth century, encouraged by Baptist congregations at both New Mill and Chesham, a more regular pattern of worship began to emerge. This culminated in 1840, with William Norris, one of the early dissenters, gifting the plot of land in Bell Lane to his Baptist brethren for them to build a Meeting House. By 1841 the original eight founders had been formed into a recognised and organised church. In 1842 these believers began to use the land around the chapel building to bury their dead.
In Victorian days, Northchurch villagers referred to this plot of land as the Chapel Yard. Over the years possibly 300 or more people were interred there. Most, of course, left no trace, but the names of 54 survive, either from the Baptist written records or from the memorial inscriptions.
When the original chapel building was eventually demolished in 1920, interments all but ceased on the Bell Lane site. A few continued into existing family graves by special dispensation, the last known of these being in 1939.
Now the site stands idle, providing a tranquil space, separate from the modern-day hustle and bustle. But much lies hidden there: delve a little deeper and many windows into Northchurch village life begin to open.
Tim Prouse, Chronicle v.XVI (Mar 2019).