Family Lessons 27: Eldroth Church

Eldroth Church, near Lawkland and Clapham, in North Yorkshire is a little gem. So little a gem, in fact, that I could not even find its listing with Historic England (don’t tell the developers); nor did Pevsner deign to give it even the briefest of mentions. It is one of those little chapels which has changed remarkably little.

It seems to have been built in 1627, with many of its original features extant. I was interested to learn that Nicholas Grime, my 10x great-grandfather was born at Eldroth in 1626. Doh! If only he’d popped out a year later, the family might have saved themselves the trouble of trekking to Clapham to have him dipped. In fact, he might still have been baptised there, after all. Before 1752, the new year began on Lady Day, which is the 25th March. So 27th February 1627, for example, would still have been reckoned as 27th February 1626 by people back then. So little Nicholas might have been born in the first quarter of our 1627, and therefore have been the first child to be baptised in the new chapel.

Nicholas’ son, Richard, my 9x great-grandfather, was also born at Eldroth, in the year 1658. The church was certainly up and running then, yet his baptism is recorded at Clapham Parish Church. Why did they not stay local? Was it a big family event, for which the Clapham hostelries were deemed more desirable than the rural backwardness of Eldroth? Did the Vicar insist that such formal records (and fees) be entered by himself alone and not some bumbling curate in the backwoods? Who knows.

I am sorry that the pretty little font in the picture was not the one at which my forbears were welcomed into the world by baptism. Ultimately, however, it matters not. Where you were baptised, by whom you were baptised, and to some extent, whether you were baptised at all, are of little consequence. God is not searching for those who have been dipped, splashed or submerged, but for those who repent of their sin and follow Christ thereafter. Get baptised, by all means, but believe the gospel first and foremost.

We have no record of Nicholas’ death, nor of where he lies buried. He was still siring children in his mid-fifties, so he did not fall in the civil wars or attendant famines. Indeed, the day of his death matters neither. The question again is, did he believe the gospel?

And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Mark 1:15