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Measham Baptist Church

Historic England List UID: 1307227 


The Baptists in Measham had a chapel founded in 1811 which was subsequently rebuilt in 1841.

According to an account of Protestant Nonconformity in Woodville, Netherseal and Overseal on the Leicestershire History website, the General Baptist Chapel in Measham was founded in 1811. However, in 1840, the congregation united with that at Netherseal, and the return to the Religious Census of 1851 (HO 129/414/1/6/16) reflects the larger Chapel which was built in Measham in 1841. 

The Chapel is a red brick, Flemish bond, with stone pediment cornice, stone 1st floor sill band to front and stone sills. Brick eaves cornice to sides and gauged brick round arched lintels. Slate roof.  Two storeys of 3 small-paned round arched windows: gable end forms large pediment over all. Originally there was a doorway in each side. Central door, (The entrance to the chapel was moved in 1972 to create a central doorway), formerly window, of two leaves with large over light, upper part curved with segmental arch over. Either side a window with round arched heads and stucco sills replace the two doors formerly there. On left side three windows and on right four windows: upper right blocked and twentieth century door and window beneath. A nineteenth century extension to rear of lesser interest.


Interior: gallery to three sides on slender iron columns, 4th side later. Box pews possibly altered. Date: tablet in pediment: Baptist Chapel 1841.

A place of worship, with free sittings for 200, and 400 "other" sittings, and the estimated congregation on March 30th 1841 was 210 in the morning, and 380 to evening service, with 137 Sunday Scholars at morning class. The return was completed by George Staples, who described himself as "Baptist Minister", with an address of "Measham, Derbyshire". Measham and the joint townships of Oakthorpe and Donisthorpe were formerly in Derbyshire, but became part of Leicestershire in 1897.

Maps of 1881-1883 show there was a burial ground in front of the Chapel. Trees planted within the ground have been pollarded, giving it a rakish, but attractive appearance.

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Church porch extension 2020

Extensive redevelopment of area between main church lounge and top school room involved moving and updating the existing toilets allowing the addition of disabled toilet facilities. New ramps installed to support disabled access to all ground floor rooms. There are several areas in the church to support wheelchair users and parents with buggies. A dedicated disabled car parking space was also added.  

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Church Organ

Our organ which has not seen use for some years has recently generated interest amongst organ enthusiasts. 


We were privileged to hear it played on Wednesday 14th March 2018 when a  research student from York University visited to view the instrument.  It appears that the organ originally installed in 1860 was the work of a York organ builder by the name of Robert Postill who is renowned for his quality workmanship.


Further research is needed to establish if there are links to the organ that is housed within Derby Cathedral.

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The Life of Mr. John Buckley


Dr. John Buckley, born in Measham 22nd October, 1813  and died in Cuttack, India, October 4th,1886.  John was baptised in the canal at Measham on November 5th 1826 by Mr. John Platt  who preached from the text ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ and later for 42 years a most honoured missionary in Orissa.

It was on the Lord’s Day morning, November 5th 1826, when John Buckley, a frail little orphan dressed in white, was committed to the chilly waters of the canal by Mr. John Platt and in the afternoon of the same day was admitted to the fellowship of the Baptist Church at Ashby and Packington, of which, at that time, Measham was a branch.

It was beyond the wildest dreams of anyone amongst the crowd or they who shared in the holy engagements of that day, to foresee or anticipate the outcome of the simple act of baptism, carried out in a stretch of the canal, adjacent to Bosses Yard, down which was, at that time Baptist Lane, in the village of Measham.


This act of baptism, carried out in the local canal was no gimmick, the Baptists of those days took advantage of any local waters, in fact, there is still a person living in Measham today, whose grandparents were baptised in a millpond at Packington and up to a few years ago, the steps used by the Measham Baptists, above a century ago, were still visible.

None but the stoutest hearts would for one moment consider entering the water on a cold November morning, it would certainly cause some very hard thinking for John Buckley’s kind Uncle, Mr John Whitworth, who being his guardian, would have to give his consent to this rather severe ordeal.

According to the records, the Rev. Joseph Goadby, the honoured Pastor of the Church preached in the morning and afternoon from the same text, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’ In R. Godfrey’s ‘Memorials of Barton and Baptists Churches’ he mentions in 1799 Mr. Goadby was preaching at Measham to an ever growing attendance.


Tradition says John Buckley was baptised at an early age because his life was feared, and he suffered grievous from a diseased knee and this prevented him playing the usual games with the older boys but what young John lacked in bodily physique, he made up with tremendous courage and vitality, a keen brain and being blessed with a most retentive memory, his store of knowledge increased rapidly.  From early childhood he was excessively fond of his pen and when only 12 he began to keep records of events a custom he observed throughout the whole of his life.


Nothing seemed more unlikely that John Buckley would ever labour upon a far distant mission field, for at that time he was so heavily afflicted that he could not walk without the aid of crutches, so being utterly unfitted for business activities he gave himself up to mental and moral culture.


There is no doubt he was very much influenced by the preaching of Mr. Goadby, (one of the early pastors of the Baptist Church at Measham) and his first attempts were to put down the texts he heard preached from, and an early list contains over a hundred texts from previous to the year 1826, principally at Measham by Mr. Goadby  before John was 13. From a record of the texts, he went on to give ‘Sketches of Sermons’ and then sermons at length.


John Buckley was born in Measham on October 22nd 1813 with reference to his ancestors, comparatively little is known.  His maternal grandfather Mr John Whitworth was a useful and honoured member of the General Baptist Church at Ashby and Packington of which Measham was a branch.  He joined that Church about the year 1788 and remained in fellowship with it until his death which occurred on September 15th 1818.


Whitworth was mainly instrumental in the erection of the first chapel at Measham.  Before this divine service was conducted in Mr. Whitworth’s house and Corn Chamber (previously Petchers shop) however in 1816 he was laid aside by a paralytic stroke, his remains were interred in the Baptist Burial ground at Measham.

Concerning John Buckley’s parents, but little is told, beyond the fact that his mother was the daughter of the above John Whitworth; her Christian name being Faith.  In referring to her, nearly thirty years after her death he observed: ‘My mother’s piety was retiring and unobtrusive, it lived in the shade, born to blush unseen, nor did it waste its sweetness on the desert air, on her only son it had a happy influence and to her children, her memory will ever be dear.’ On Wednesday 17th May 1826, his mother went to the opening of a new Chapel at Netherseal, on that day she took a cold which induced malignant fever, then raging in the neighbourhood and died within a fortnight.

Painful as this event was at the time, it was probably over-ruled for good, inasmuch as it led to John Buckley going to reside with his maternal uncle, Mr. Whitworth, the son and successor in business to the Mr. Whitworth previously referred to.  By him he was brought up, educated and provided for until able to provide for himself.  Tradition says that while at school John Buckley was first among the boys as a scholar and that in many respects his acquirements were equal to those of his teacher. 

It is on record that as a Baptist Magazine for 1825 offered prizes for Juvenile Knowledge of the scriptures and this was the result:  John Buckley of Measham, near Ashby aged 12 had the best collection of passages on the ‘Fall of man’ and arranged them in the best manner.

There is no doubt he was greatly benefited by these youthful exercises and so familiar did he become with the Bible that he could turn at once to any passage he might require, he could also refer to any event mentioned in the Bible, giving the chapter and verse, the New Testament he knew by heart and with little trouble he could repeat the Psalms.

As John Buckley's bodily weakness continued, a certain Mr. Wileman of Paddington who was a native of Measham urged that he would be sent to London for medical treatment.  To this his uncle consented and after a short while he was much improved.

Through his life the care for orphans and poor was a conspicuous feature and also his sympathy for the sick and lonely.


It is not surprising that John Buckley through his uncle, sought admission into the Academy at Loughborough with a view of undergoing preparatory training to devote himself to the work of the Christian ministry.  It appears his application fell through so young John sought admission to the Academy at Wisbech and he was successful.  Whilst there the students were sent to local vacant churches.  John Buckley located at Stamford in April, May and June 1835. After serving as an assistant to his aged and feeble friend Rev. Thomas Orton at Hugglescote, for a period of several months, John became pastor of the Market Harborough church.


Foreign missionaries were however, always his chief concern and on May 29th 1844, he was publicly set apart for Orissa India and set sail the following month. Soon after he arrived, he married Sarah Derry, daughter of the pastor of Barton in the Beans.  She had already been out in India for three years.  The degree of Doctor of Divinity was concurred upon him in 1880 by the Bates College, Maine. Dr. Buckley achieved considerable fame as a preacher, as a reviser of the Scriptures and as a President of Cuttack College, Orissa (now Odisha, India).  His death took place in 1886.  He was buried in Cuttack Cemetery.

From early childhood John Buckley was a prolific writer, later he became a brilliant scholar, a great preacher and a very humble servant of God.

The following is a description of the tablet to the late Dr Buckley erected in the Market Harborough Chapel

This tablet is erected by the friends of the General Baptist Missionary Society.  To the cherished memory of Dr. John Buckley, born at Measham, Derbyshire October 22nd 1813.  Died at Cuttack, India October 4th 1886.  For seven years he was the beloved pastor of the church assembling here and for 42 years a most devoted and honoured missionary in Orissa, where he laboured as pastor of the mission church, president of the native college and reviser of the Oriyan Scriptures.  ‘He walked with God; he was not, for God took him.’


This account was authored by

Mr Francis E. Sharrod formerly of 83 Bosworth Road, Measham (Circa 1970)

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