A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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Elsworth had few dissenters (fn. 1) before the 1790s: sectaries styling themselves Calvinists and Methodists were numerous and their numbers rapidly increasing by 1807, when there were two meeting houses. Barns were registered for worship in 1791, 1804, and 1807: among those involved were a minister and several prominent farmers. (fn. 2) Two barns registered in 1826-7 (fn. 3) were perhaps intended for the Primitive Methodists then preaching at Elsworth. (fn. 4) Most nonconformity there, however, became linked with the Strict and Particular Baptists, who formally established a congregation in 1831. It probably used the building registered in 1828 by William Balduck, a prosperous farmer. (fn. 5) By 1837 a large new meeting house, seating 250 and later called the Providence chapel, was erected south of the road at Cowdell End. Built of grey brick, it has a house-like three-bay front and galleried interior. A small schoolroom was attached to its east side, and a matching manse was built soon after to the west. (fn. 6)
In 1851 the minister, whose predecessor had resigned in 1849 following charges of improper conduct, claimed attendances of 130 adults in the morning, over 200 in the afternoon, and 170 at evening services. (fn. 7) The Baptists still held three services every Sunday in 1873, when a smaller, transient 'free church' congregation met elsewhere. There were said to be c. 180 dissenters then and in the 1890s, when most of the leading farmers still adhered to the Baptist chapel, and 250, including children, in 1885. (fn. 8) The chapel, by 1962 controlled by a minister living in Bedfordshire, (fn. 9) was no longer regularly used in the 1960s; the manse was unoccupied from 1958. (fn. 10) Both were sold for housing in 1976. (fn. 11)