A FINAL service at a 19th century Baptist chapel near Knighton is being held next month.

Coxall Baptist Church, near Bucknell, is closing, with a final service to be held at 2.30pm on Sunday, May 8, to give thanks to God for all that has been achieved there over many years. Tea will be served afterwards in the chapel, with everyone invited.

Over recent years numbers have declined, making the decision to close inevitable. Members and friends of the chapel will now be cared for by Knighton and Knucklas Baptist Church. The property will then be passed to the trustees for sale, subject to the condition that the graves may be visited by family members, and that people whose names have been recorded before the sale may be buried there.

The 19th century Baptist movement in the Bucknell area was said to be strong. In the 1860s Mr and Mrs Rogers of Coxall Farm opened their farmhouse for Sunday services. Numbers grew so large that a granary was converted for the congregation. In 1871 William Smith, of The Oak, provided the land where the chapel stands today.

The chapel seats about 100 and has a high pulpit and a baptistery. In 1906, during the Welsh revival, there was a great gathering when 16 people were baptised. Water to fill the baptistery had to be carried from The Oak.

The chapel was originally heated by a coke stove which some still remember. If the wind was in the wrong direction the stove smoked. Older residents remember arriving to a smoke-filled chapel, and the doors were left open to clear the air. Lighting was provided by oil lamps. More recently lighting and heating were gas-powered.

A choir was formed in 1894, noted in the area for its four-part harmony. As Christmas drew near, the choir would travel by horse-drawn wagon around the area singing carols. The Sunday school flourished for many years before closing in the 1970s and some living in Bucknell still remember their Sunday school days at Coxall. If they were late, the superintendent would say, ‘Better late than never, but better never late’. The Sunday school anniversary was a great occasion. For girls it meant a new dress, sandals and white socks, and the boys were scrubbed up to look their best. After the anniversary came the school outing, usually to the seaside. The bus would be packed with children, mothers, fathers and friends. The return journey was fun too, with singing all the way home.

Harvest festival services were well attended, with a full tea served afterwards.

For requests about how to switch to Knighton and Knucklas Baptist Church or for any further information, contact Sue Wilson by email on Knightonbaptists@gmail.com or write to: The Norton Street Centre, Norton Street, Knighton, LD7 1ET.