OUR HISTORY

Edenbridge beginnings 

In 1839 William and Elizabeth Gratwick, members of the Dormansland Baptist Church, opened their home for worship services. As numbers grew, plans were made in 1841 to build a chapel near the 'Great Stone Bridge'.

(Postcard from 1910 with thanks to Weald of Kent Historical society )

The Bethel Baptist Chapel opened for worship in November 1841. For the next six years the chapel was run as a 'mission chapel' by the Dormansland Church.

Eventually, a large enough group of worshipers joined the Edenbridge membership roll for it to become a viable church in its own right.

In 1852 the Rev. James Swinbourne was called as the chapel's first minister. By 1853 it was neccessary to enlarge seating capacity to 220 and a new building was erected on the original site. 

The foundation stone of the new church was laid in 1853 and can still be seen today.  

Harvest celebrations circa 1920

Meanwhile in Marlpit Hill

Local records reveal that six young men from Edenbridge were running a 'Sunday School' for 70 children in Marlpit Hill in 1876 and in 1888 a 150 seater chapel was built by the Edenbridge congregation for Marlpit Hill worshipers. 

After a tentative start, Mr Sawyer became superintendent of the chapel and in 1924 Marlpit Hill became a fellowship in its own right, with Rev. Hulme as its minister.  

Marlpit Hill Baptist Church on Hilder Lane (Photo: Jean Barrow / Baptist Church - Edenbridge)

Coming Together  

The two churches functioned as independent churches through the decades with all the usual ups and downs of church life.  In more recent times, they began to collaborate on local projects with increasing regularity until they arrived at the happy conclusion that they could accomplish more together. 

On Sunday 8 June 2003, the churches in Edenbridge and Marlpit Hill formally joined together to become The Eden Church. Sunday worship continued for the next ten years in the Riverside location in Edenbridge in the chapel near The Old Stone Bridge.  

The Eden Centre

 

When the Eden Valley secondary school closed in 2002, Kent County Council repurposed the site to build a new multi-purpose community centre. This was the perfect opportunity to re-locate the Riverside congregation into the geographical centre of Edenbridge.

With support from the local community and we managed to purchase a long-term lease on a substantial area within the centre. In January 2013 the Eden Church opened for worship in the community centre. 

The Eden Church still owns the old chapel at Riverside and uses this venue for inter-church activities such as the ECT YOUTH PROJECT.

New Bean Cafe 

After the closure of the Eden Centre's in-house cafe 'Eat @ Eden', we were asked to take on the space and run our own cafe. New Bean opened in April 2019, operating as a business during the week and serving as a venue for our church activities after hours. 

It serves as our church kitchen/lounge and allows us to meet and serve our centre-users and local people in countless creative ways.  Follow this link to find out more about the BOARD GAME CAFE


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