Honouring God, encouraging faith in Christ and serving our community.

Friar Lane Baptist Church

Friar Lane dates its history back to a reference in a 1651 book mentioning a Baptist group in Leicester under the leadership of Coniers Congrave and Thomas Rogers. But there are references to Baptists being convicted of preaching against baptising infants prior to this. Baptist believe adults should make the decision about committing their lives to God, and church membership, not babies.

Fear of arrest and persecution meant that early Baptists met in small groups, in different houses around the town. Baptists were subject to laws which prevented them from holding public office, or holding meetings of more than 5 adult people. Penalties ranged from a £5 fine to banishment to America. However, in 1709 Baptists were reported meeting in a house, later turned into a permanent chapel in1719. This was built down a passage, hidden behind cottages on Friar Lane, but seems to have been a focal point for Baptists from outside, as well as in the town.

The church remained relatively small until the arrival of John Deacon, a member of the Leicestershire clock making family, as minister in 1783. During his nearly 40 year ministry, the church was enlarged twice, and the cottages, which hid it from the road, were removed. In 1793, a Sunday school was started to teach reading, writing and maths to children who were refused education. New churches were formed or helped by the members of Friar Lane. These included Harvey Lane, Archdeacon Lane, Baltimore USA, Billesdon, and Houghton on the Hill.

After Deacon’s death, as repressive laws were repealed, the church continued to grow. A new church seating over 1000 was built in 1866, In 1837 the Sunday School was enlarged to provide education for adults from the congregation and community. By 1896 there were 800 scholars and 50 teachers. More churches were formed, Dover Street, Fleckney, New Walk.

However, by the 1940’s decreasing city centre population and road construction isolated the church from its congregation. Therefore it moved to the Braunstone estate Sunday school, enlarging a work which had been started in 1930 by deaconesses. The new joint Friar Lane and Braunstone Baptist Church was completed in 1962.