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Original Wesleyan Methodist Chapel

Methodist Movement

John Wesley 1703-1791 and his brother Charles 1707-1788 were sons of a Church of England rector and were themselves ordained as priests within the Church of England.  They had religious experiences in 1738 that encouraged them to spread the gospels.  Along with George Whitfield 1714-1770 they toured the country preaching at outdoor meetings.

Throughout their lives they remained within the Church of England and encouraged reform as well as campaigning on social issues such as the abolition of slavery.  They were described as Methodists because of the methodical way they lived their lives in accordance with their religious beliefs.  After their deaths, the Methodist Movement split from the Church of England in 1795.  Methodism itself split hence names such as Wesleyan Methodists and Primitive Methodists.

Original Wesleyan Methodist Chapel

Farmer James Burton of Burton’s Yard at the top of Burton’s Lane provided the land for the original Wesleyan Chapel.  The chapel was accessed via the jitty near the Stone House in Main Street.  Research is continuing into various sources that indicate the chapel was built between 1795 and 1822.  The chapel was extended in 1856.  At the beginning of the 20th century the Trustees felt there was a need for a new chapel, building work started in 1908 and was completed in 1909.

The original chapel was sold to Thomas Atkins in 1909, whose grocer’s shop was nearby.

Location of the old Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in the jitty next to the Stone House - Ordnance Survey map 1903
James Burton who farmed at Burton's Yard (top of Burtons Lane) provided the land for the chapel off the jitty near the Stone House - Ordnance Survey map 1903

Chapel Life

At the 9th September 1908 stone laying ceremony for the new chapel, Swannington born Methodist preacher and hymn writer Dr Henry Burton described the old chapel as:

  • It was not so large then as it was now and the forms had no backs for them to lean against.
  • The men used to sit on one side, and the women on the other, as though they had never seen each other before in all their lives.
  • There were no lamps in Swannington then. They had a large brass chandelier, on which were lighted candles.  These candles required periodical snuffing, and it used to please the youngsters every now and again, when the candles, in being snuffed, were snuffed out.  He had seen the preacher do the same thing in the pulpit.
  • The musical arrangements were also very primitive. They had no musical instrument at all, only on the occasion of the sermons – charity sermons as they were called – and then they had quite a number of them.
  • They only had one service a day at Swannington, and that was in the evening.  In the afternoon they met at Griffydam, and he thought there were few country circuits today which could equal the Griffydam meetings 50 or 60 years ago.
The 1909 procession leaving the original Wesleyan Methodist Chapel for the new Chapel?