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Benjamin Biddlecombe's Tomb

Benjamin's is the only surviving marked grave on the chapel site.

The Baptistry

Baptists only baptise adults or at least at an age where a person can make a conscious profession of their faith. Traditionally, it is done by full immersion and the chapel has a large baptistry to meet that need.

A detail in the layout of the parquet florring identifies its position. See if you can find it next time you are in store!

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The Graveyard

There are at least 481 graves on the chapel's site. As all but one are now un-marked, it is not obvious that the land around the chapel is in fact a graveyard. 174 of the graves are children (36%), a testament to the high infant mortality of the time.

Onsite interpretation panels will be produced thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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Uncle Eddie - East Boldre's Own Banksy?

Many of the people who took part in our Living Memory interviews fondly mentioned 'Uncle Eddie', the chapel's Sunday School superintendent from 1946 until his death in 1984. Born Idris Williams on 29th December 1909 he was a Welsh miner before marrying Edith Read in Brockenhurst in1938. He later became a deacon at the chapel.  He is shown below with his dog, Auggie, Edith and her sister May.

So why would we mention him in a page about the chapel's physical heritage?

During our first "Big Help Out" on 15th May 2023 we discovered Uncle Eddie's previously unknown graffiti artwork of his dog Auggie sporting sunglasses behind the pine panelling that we removed in order to address the damp. It gives a feel for Idris's sense of fun and why he is remembered fondly by so many people from when they were children.

Unfortunately, on exposure to air after years concealed behind panelling within 24 hours Idris' artwork dried out and peeled off. We were so disappointed to find it as curls of paint on the floor the next morning. Luckily we had taken some photos before Uncle Eddie's artwork self-destructed.

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Keeping warm

Near the fruit and veg you will see a darker patch in the parquet flooring. This indicates the position of the hearth for the cast iron stove that was used to heat the chapel (shown below).

Part of our building works included the removal of the stove's asbestos flue pipe that remained in the loft space above the retail area.

 

Today our shop is largely unheated as it keeps food fresher and customers typically are dressed for the weather. What heating we have is provided by efficient air source heat pumps powered by our solar system..

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The Bricked up Windows

Window tax was introduced by William III to offset the revenue lost due to the clipping of coinage. A motion to repeal of the tax failed by three votes in April 1850. The tax was finally repealed in 1851.

It seems our chapel still had all of its windows in the painting circa 1860 below so it is unlikely window tax was the reason that the two lancet windows on the front facade were bricked upMore likely it was to facilitate the addition of the mezzanine and its staircase or to reduce costs when the window frames needed replacing.

 

1860                                                        1908

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Ceiling Roses

As you enter Chapel Stores you will see the original cast iron ceiling roses now mounted on either side of the internal double doors. These had to be removed from the ceiling to make way for the new light fittings. As an original part of the chapel and  one of its few remaining decorative features we reinstated the roses where their detail can be appreciated by everyone. They are a happy reminder of Nick's enthusiasm for Chapel Stores too

 

They were caked in literally centuries of paint which Nick carefully removed. We then made a rubber mould from one of the originals and cast the 8 lightweight resin plaster roses that now decorate the ceiling. Each rose has the name of a committee member inscribed on the back.

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