Our Background

The Church at Temple Ewell can trace its beginnings to the early nineteenth century. While few detailed records have been kept, the records of the Eythorne Baptist Church reveal that it was during the ministry of the Rev John Giles from 1793 to 1827 that the work at Ewell (Temple Ewell) was started. And in 1843 when the Rev John Webb was the minister he used to visit Ewell once a month and it was agreed at a deacon’s meeting that the ‘Pastor should be allowed the expenses of a Gig (cart) for that purpose’. It also records in 1924 that Temple Ewell was a flourishing branch of the Dover Baptist Church.

Originally the Temple Ewell Fellowship met in a house opposite the present building. In 1883 Miss Caroline Fector, a spinster daughter of a well known Dover family who took an interest in the Baptist cause, gave the present building and its furniture to the Fellowship as a gift. She also made over the interest on £750-worth of stock for its upkeep – only stipulating that a Particular Baptist doctrine ‘as taught by Charles Haddon Spurgeon’ should always be preached there.

Attendance and enthusiasm were variable. In 1914 the church decided to try the idea of a resident pastor and a man named Henry Dobson was appointed and stayed for seven years. A Sunday School had been started many years before and under the guidance of Walter Holyoak (minister at Salem) it was reorganised and a ‘proper system of class teaching’ began. This seems to have had excellent results, so that by the time Dobson left the school was outgrowing its buildings. Howard Bailey and his wife were appointed Superintendents in 1921and had been there only two years when the church opened a new ‘institute’ at the back of the chapel for the use of the Sunday School and other groups that met during the week.

The Church then continued as a subsidiary chapel from Salem and a Superintendent led the fellowship. This format continued until 1990, when the Dover Church considered closing it down as it seemed nonviable. The congregation at Temple Ewell, although small in numbers, wished to carry on and a team was sent from the Dover Church to lead the Fellowship and see if it would grow.

Two couples from Salem offered to take over the leadership at Temple Ewell and several other families who lived in the River and Temple area were willing to leave Salem entirely and go out to give all their support to the village. It would leave a gap in the fellowship at Salem but it offered a new impetus at the chapel and gave hope that it still might one day become an independent cause. These couples, Liz and Alan Hibell and Pat and Arthur Clipsham would not be called Superintendents but together with Derek Donne the treasurer, (who already worshipped there regularly) would become a ‘leadership team’. They were commissioned at Salem on 16th June 1990 and were given £2000 to allow the work a fresh start.
The team spent several years thoroughly renovating and re-decorating the chapel to make it more attractive to worshippers. A Bible Group was started and the single Sunday afternoon service was changed to a morning service with an evening ‘prayer and share’ meeting.  A mission was held and efforts were made to reach the villagers. Then they started a children’s club and the children from the village primary school not only came enthusiastically on Friday afternoons but also brought their parents to Special services on Sundays.

This situation continued for many years until Rev Nigel Booth (minister of Salem) encouraged The Fellowship to think about becoming an Independent church. This would be a big step in the life of the Church and became a serious matter for thought and prayer. In March 2012 the Fellowship at Temple Ewell celebrated becoming an Independent Church within the Baptist Union promising to “Seek to be obedient to God’s direction as we share His love in our Community.