The Baptist fellowship that we now call NCBC was originally named ‘St. Mary’s Baptist Church’.
It was founded in the 17th Century, during a period of religious conflict. Many Norwich Christians fled to Rotterdam in Holland when they realised that their freedom was being threatened by the Established Church. Those that spent time in Holland returned in 1642 with a new understanding of the Faith and a new dynamism in their worship. They initially gathered together for fellowship at St George’s Church in Tombland.
In 1662, after the Restoration, the fellowship was expelled from St George’s and began to meet secretly in various locations. The existence of the Baptist Church was ‘officially’ recognised in 1669 when Bishop Reynolds wrote to Lambeth Palace announcing that he had discovered an illegal meeting! He referred to them as a conventicle of 30 people, meeting at the house of Daniel Bradford.
The Baptists were legalized when the Toleration Act of 1689 was passed. They went on to buy the plot of land on which NCBC stands today. The current building is the third Meeting House – the first was replaced in 1812 and the second was replaced in 1952 after it was destroyed by incendiary bombs during World War 2.
Over the centuries, St Mary’s grew in size and was instrumental in the foundation of the city’s other Baptist churches.
In 2003, St Mary’s merged with Dereham Road Baptist Church and Mile Cross Baptist Church to form NCBC.