. . . . . . . . Hough Mill open 2-5pm Sundays to end of September . . . . . . . . . .

New Wesleyan Methodist Chapel 1909

Replacing the old chapel

In 1905 the Trustees of the (old) Wesleyan Methodist Chapel decided that they needed a new chapel.  After a period of negotiation with Wyggeston Hospital (who had owned the Manor of Swannington since 1521) the Trustees bought a plot of land on the corner of Main Street and Burtons Lane.   In 1907 architects, Withers and Meredith were appointed to design a new building.

An L-shaped design for the building was agreed rather than having the Chapel and school side by side and the plans when available for viewing on 29th February 1908 showed the following details:

  • The chapel built near to the road
  • Doors to separate the classroom and schoolroom
  • Sliding doors to divide the schoolroom and Guildroom in 1/3 2/3
  • Fireplaces for warming
  • 2 closets
  • Private Closet
  • 1 Urinal
  • 1 Ashpit
Ordnance Survey map 1923. New Wesleyan Methodist Chapel circled in blue. Old chapel circled in red.

Building the new chapel

Quotations for the building were received on 1 July 1908 as follows:

  • Orton and Son Ashby £1,786. 8s.2d.
  • Forster Loughborough £1,745
  • Parker Grantham £1,698
  • Moss Coalville £1,619.10s.

The contract was given to W. Moss, winners of so many other contracts for similar work in the district and the first payment of £350 was made on 12th October 1908.

Stone Laying

A stone-laying ceremony at the site of the new chapel took place on Wednesday, 9th September 1908.  A commemoration plaque was installed in the new building:

This church and schools were built at the initiation and partly by the generosity of Mrs Chester in memory of’ her husband Joseph Chester and her daughter Eliza and were opened for divine worship on March 10th 1909

Foundation stones were laid September 9th 1908 by  (notes on the people have been added)

  • Mr J P Adcock
  • Rev H Burton, DD – Reverend Henry Burton, born Swannington 1840, died West Kirby, Lancashire 1930.   Emigrated to USA 1855 with his family and farmer father Henry Burton.  Returned to England and became a Methodist preacher and wrote the words of many hymns.
  • Miss Chester – Sarah Chester, born Swannington 1855, died Swannington 1926.  Lived in Springfield House, Station Hill, Swannington.  Donated the organ in 1917 in memory of her nephew Corporal Chester Joseph Homer.
  • Miss Field
  • Mr T H GrayThomas Henry Gray, born Leicester 1827, died Linby, Notts 1914.  Thomas Henry lived in Swannington 1855 to about 1877, he was a Swannington Colliery Company manager and brick manufacturer living in Station Row, Swannington.
  • Mr T E GrayThomas Edward Gray, born Swannington 1855, died Barnet, Middlesex 1920.  Son of Thomas Henry, lived in Swannington until 1870s before becoming a coal merchant in Middlesex.
  • Mr J E Homer
  • Mrs Homer – Mary Ann Homer (nee Chester), born Swannington 1850, died Birmingham 1935.  Older sister of Sarah Chester.  Married Birmingham manufacturer James Frederick Homer.
  • Miss E M Homer – Mabel Elizabeth Mary Homer born Handsworth, Staffordshire 1892, died Hampshire 1985.  Daughter of James Frederick Homer and Mary Ann Chester.
  • Chester J Homer – Chester Joseph Homer born Handsworth, Staffordshire 1894, killed in action 15th June 1916, France.  Son of James Frederick Homer and Mary Ann Chester.
  • Sir C Mclaren Bart
  • Mr W J Plowright
  • Mrs J Richards
  • Mr G U Rowse – George Underwood Rowse, born Swannington 1838, died Swannington 1921 and buried in Griffydam Methodist cemetery.  Two of his children were born in Detroit, Michigan, USA, three in Preston Lancashire and one in Swannington.  From 1880 onwards he was a grazier in Main Street, Swannington.
  • Miss Rowse – Probably Grace Ellen Rowse born Detroit, Michigan, USA 1870, died Market Bosworth 1951.  Lived in Swannington 1880 to at least 1939.  Daughter of George Underwood Rowse.
  • Mr J Rowse
  • Mr J Smith
  • Mr J Toon
  • Rev H G Tunnicliff B A
  • Mr J Waterfield
  • Mr W Winters

Bricks were also laid by a number of teachers and scholars from the Sunday School

Swannington School, plus the petrol station, shop and Wesleyan Chapel. Can you name the year?
The new Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in its prime

Inside the new chapel

Organ

One of the drawbacks of the old chapel was a lack of music to accompany the hymn singing.  The Coalville Times reported in its issue of 28th September 1917 that a new organ at Swannington Wesleyan Chapel was opened by Miss Chester on Sunday.   A dedication service conducted by H. Plowright was followed by organ recital by Mr. Cecil G. Price FRCO of Measham.  Madam Beatrice Vernon of Birmingham was the soloist.  Inscription on organ in Swannington Chapel:

  • Presented by Miss Chester in loving memory of her nephew Corporal Chester Joseph Homer 15th Royal Warwickshire Regiment who was killed in action June 15th 1916, aged 21 Interred, Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras, France “He was beloved by all who knew him” and the testimony of his C.O. was “he did his duty under all conditions”.

 

Stained glass window

The stained glass window has been preserved in the present house.  Underneath the window was a small brass plate with the inscription

  • The above window was generously given by Jack Williamson who passed away October 11th 1987 aged 78 years he was a faithful member of this church and Sunday School Superintendent for many years.

 

The bottom of the window is inscribed with:

  • To the Glory of God and in affectionate remembrance of my beloved wife Clara Elizabeth Williamson who died October 26th 1967.  Also my beloved parents Edith Williamson who died January 1st 1968,  John Williamson who died September 16th 1943.  They lived for those they loved and those they loved remember.

 

Do you have memories or photos of the inside of the chapel that you can share?

Do you know what happened to the organ and other items from the chapel?

Organ photo - Dr Sheila Smith
Organ photo - Dr Sheila Smith
Stained glass window donated by Jack Williamson
Organ photo - Dr Sheila Smith

Whitsun Treat

One of the many Now and Then magazine articles written by Raymond Fowkes 1920-2014 concerned the annual Whitsun Treat on Whit Monday (Whit Sunday is the seventh Sunday after Easter, the secular Whit Monday bank holiday therefore moved in line with Easter until 1973 when it became the Spring Bank Holiday on the last Monday in May).

Ray described how during the 1920s the children from both the Primitive and Wesleyan Methodist Sunday Schools met at Hoo Ash for the parade, which was led by the Snibston Colliery Silver Prize Band.  They marched down Hough Hill and Station Hill, peeling off at their respective chapels in Main Street for tea.  During the afternoon they went to Jack Walker’s field on Station Hill (Hollies Farm)  for sports and games.

The banner below is the Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School banner.

Whit Monday parade of Sunday School children led by the Snibson Colliery Band - Wesleyan banner

Events At The Chapel

  • 30th May 1945 Wedding Charles William Stacey and Gladys Mary Fowkes
  • 27th March 1948 Wedding of (Joyce) Margaret Hall and George Harold Fowkes

Do you have a wedding or other event photo you can share?

(Joyce) Margaret Hall and her father Jim (James) Hall on the Wesleyan Chapel steps

Closure 1998

The valedictory Songs of Praise on the 24th July 1998 marked the closure of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.   It was attended by nearly 300 people.  The service was organised by 84 year old local preacher Eric Jarvis and his wife Eileen.  They had met at the chapel in 1936.

Attendees were delighted to receive the news that the chapel had been listed by English Heritage (this function is now administered by Historic England), which provided the building with protection from developers.