East Boldre Community heritage project

chapel stores visual east boldre

HAT has awarded £500 towards a tracking system to mount travelling exhibitions in the new heritage centre, a small contribution to this huge project

East Boldre’s Chapel Heritage Interpretation and Exhibition
The intent is to capture, interpret and exhibit the history and heritage of East Boldre’s Baptist Chapel, and are partnering in the project with St Barbe museum who are providing exhibition expertise and the Chapel will act as a venue for their touring exhibitions, bringing heritage and culture into our rural community.
Information gathered and displayed will include

  • local people’s living memories of the chapel’s role in village life. These will capture not only the chapel’s spiritual role (Christmas, Easter and Harvest Festival celebrations and the well attended Sunday
    Schools) but its focus for local social activities (seaside outings, fetes, youth clubs, mothers’ group, friendship clubs for new residents, messy breakfasts and barbeques).
  • Evidence uncovered during works to the chapel building (e.g. the baptistry, chapel’s original name).
  • Wessex Archaeology will be leading a gravestone recording community activity using various modern imaging
    techniques to help us capture the inscriptions on the 52 rather illegible gravestones that line the site boundary.
  • Reverend Comyn’s 1817 notebooks
  • Chapel records at the Hampshire records office and Angus Library, Regents College, Oxford.
  •  ‘A Light in the Forest: A history of East Boldre Baptist Church’ by Eric Smith 1985. Transcribed this into MS Word as a baseline for the 2nd edition that will be produced (we have his widow’s permission).
  •  Local historians – particularly their private photo archives.

Saving the chapel

East Boldre Community Stores was founded to save the vital village shop and Post Office. The whole community benefits and the shop’s catchment area includes 1850 people in the East Boldre and Beaulieu parishes.
They have purchased the village’s former Baptist chapel (which stood unused for 2 years) as premises for a  community owned and run facility. A significant programme of building works to repair the neglected building is underway and is due to open December 2023.
By running the financially viable shop within it this locally listed building (the village’s first church) in community use the project becomes self financing and sustainable. EBCS is keen to capture, recognise and commemorate its history and heritage at this point where the building’s role in our community changes.
Besides offering an airy retail area, the chapel’s vestry will provide a vibrant community space with a varied programme of community activities; pop-up café, workshops, place for local groups and young people to meet informally. The vestry will house a permanent exhibition of the chapel’s history and interpretation of its built heritage will be distributed around the chapel site (the graveyard, baptistry, etc).
EBCS secured £689,433 of the £723,000 needed (mainly through grants) to complete the overall programme of projects, the bulk of which are restricted funds awarded for the repairs and alterations to the chapel. Other grants and fundraising to secure the remainder are well underway

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