A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
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Dissent grew rapidly from the 1670s. In 1672 licences were granted for two meetings at private houses, one Presbyterian. The other, for Baptists, was taught at his own house by Thomas Waller; (fn. 1) he was one of two men excommunicate by 1675 and reported, with four wives, for frequent absence from church in 1679, (fn. 2) as were Waller and six other men and nine women, including three married couples, in 1686. (fn. 3) With support from Mr. (i.e. Roger) Rant c. 1690, Thomas Cawdwell (d. 1724) served from the 1690s as minister for a Presbyterian meeting house still open under his second successor in 1728, when there were 30 families of Presbyterians and Independents. (fn. 4) Of three houses procured for dissenting worship between 1740 and 1758, two, registered by ministers in 1743 and 1758, were for Independents. (fn. 5) Dissent may have declined briefly thereafter, but revived after 1800. Houses, a malting, and a barn were registered between 1811 and 1819, (fn. 6) some presumably by the Baptists, all called 'paupers and labourers', taught by Thomas Webb, a village grocer, for up to 49 years until his death in 1868. In 1821 the Baptists erected at the north-east end of the village street, perhaps adding a schoolroom in 1822, a small timber-framed chapel, only 20 by 30 ft., later refronted in brick, that became the Zoar Particular Baptist chapel. (fn. 7) In 1851, when it could hold 120 people, Webb claimed an attendance averaging 36-76 in the mornings and evenings, 120 in the afternoon. (fn. 8) That 'High Calvinist' Baptist chapel continued open, though with no regular minister, into the 1890s. (fn. 9) Still used c. 1960, (fn. 10) it still stood, in good repair although seldom used, in 1992.
Another congregation, apparently called Independent when established c. 1830, (fn. 11) reportedly worshipped at first in a barn near the Red Lion, until another chapel was built for them in 1862. That Zion Union chapel, of grey brick with a three-bayed front, pilastered and pedimented, stands on the high street almost facing the parish churches. (fn. 12) Initially still Independent, it was called 'Unionist' by the vicar in 1873, (fn. 13) but was reckoned Baptist by 1880. (fn. 14) In 1896 up to 220 people attended its Band of Hope service. (fn. 15) In the 20th century, when it was expected to seat 150-200, but had usually no permanent minister, membership halved from c. 50 before 1938 to fewer than 25 into the 1950s, then fell to c. 15 into the 1980s. The chapel was still open in the mid 1990s. (fn. 16)
In 1836 the Wesleyan Methodists built near Upware, close to the river, a brick 'fen chapel', apparently registered in 1838, with 140 sittings, only 30 free. An average attendance of 50-70 was claimed in 1851 when it was served from Cambridge. (fn. 17) It remained in regular use in the late 19th century. (fn. 18) Latterly served from Cottenham, its congregation had shrunk to six by 1959 and it was sold soon after, intact with its seating and pulpit. The purchasers, the Stanfords of the neighbouring Rant Hall farm, long-term adherents, made it available into the 1970s for well attended annual harvest festival services. (fn. 19) It still stood in 1992.