Hawkshead Hill Baptist Church

  • c/o Chapel Cottage
  • Hawkshead Hill
  • Ambleside
  • Cumbria
  • LA22 0PW

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Our Story 

Our story begins in 1678, some time after the Reformation. This was a time of great religious intolerance. (The Conventicle Act of 1664 made it illegal for five or more persons over the age of 16 to meet for worship unless it was according to the rites of the Church of England.)

At the time, Coniston was a mining centre. Two elders from a church which met in the mining area of Muggleswick Park, near Hexham, visited the area regularly. They gathered together those who wanted to worship in a freer way than was possible in the Church of England. They met in Torver, just a few miles away from Coniston. In so doing they risked fines, or even imprisonment, for contravening the Conventicle Act.

So it was with faith that, in June 1678, our courageous forebears made this pledge:

“First giving ourselves to the Lord and to one another according to the will of God, promising by the help of divine Grace to walk as becometh saints in the order of the Gospel…” signed by John Dickinson, John Rawlinson, Thomas Braithwaite and co., and so our history began.

In 1689 Act of Toleration brought greater religious freedom, but it was legally necessary to register your home if you wanted to use it as a meeting place for worship.

In 1699 the Baptists started meeting on Hawkshead Hill and registered High House (now Hill Cottage) as a meeting place.

Then in 1709 William Dennyson registered his cottage as a meeting place. This is the current location of the chapel. In 2009 we held special 300th Anniversary Celebrations.

In 1721 the chapel was given over for the sole use of the Baptists.

Around 1809 William Wordsworth wrote about the place in his manuscript, ‘Scenery of the Lakes’:  ‘In the first cluster of houses we come to, named Hawkshead Hill, stands a meeting-house by the road side belonging to a congregation of Anabaptists called by the country people who are not of their own persuasion Whigs. The building is mean...’ !!

In 1876 the building was renovated and the present windows date from that time.

Several times over the centuries the church has ceased to exist, but always been revived. Baptist Home Mission has often played a significant role in ensuring the continuity of ministry, and it was this fund which supported Rev Geoff King who re-opened the chapel in 1977.

Since 1992 Rev Andrew and Rev Kath Dodd have been the ministers, and once again we are grateful for financial support from Home Mission, as well as from our friends and congregation.

We are grateful to God for blessing this place and the people who have met here over three centuries. We also thank Him for enabling us to complete a major renovation of the cottage in 1996, and then, in 2005/2006, major works on the chapel buildings.

These recent works were carried out with the help (both financial and practical) of friends near and far. This included the help of a team of 17 Baptist Hungarians who spent 3 weeks with us in November 2005, during which time they completed the major building work.

Around this time we prayed for God to bring others to us in order that we might continue the work here more effectively. This prayer was answered when, in 2007, eight new people joined us.

Today we are a small, but vibrant, community which works, worships and has fun together.

We welcome you to this place, and believe that ‘God has brought you here’. (The Hungarian word for ‘welcome’ carries this meaning)


Fit For Purpose tells the story, from 1992 onwards, of how God provided, and enabled us, although a small group of people, to renovate and develop the buildings. Also read The Treasurer's Story.


There are twelve stones in the GRAVEYARD. However many more people would have been buried there over the centuries, but without stones.