This church can trace its spiritual roots in the Ashford area through several centuries as far back as the Act of Toleration of 1689. Prior to this time Baptists were not permitted by law to gather for worship.
Despite the risks Baptists were gathering together to the West of Ashford. Not surprisingly, the lack of freedom and need to exist ‘underground’ limits what evidence is available. Despite this there are records of our forebears and their baptist Church history right back to 1640. Undoubtedly, these convictions would have been influenced by the considerable number of Bible believing Christians who had been willing to die at the stake.
A generation before, during the time of the Reformation, Kent had more martyrs than any other county outside of London.
Ashford itself witnessed the martyrdom of three such believers at a site which is still honoured by a memorial at Martyrs Field in Mace Lane. Other Ashfordians were imprisoned in Canterbury before being executed in that city.
One of the Ashford martyrs died before the Reformation had even ‘officially’ begun: John Browne was burnt in Ashford on Whitsunday in 1517. Later in the October of that same year Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral; this is the event that is recognised as the start Reformation.
One might well believe that John Browne’s beliefs were influenced by the Wycliffe’s ‘Bible-men’, the Lollard preachers of the previous century.