Chapel of the Month – August 2016

We’re cheating a little this month in that this building isn’t a chapel but the connection to John Bunyan seemed like a good reason to include this unusual Grade II listed heritage asset…

John Bunyan’s Chimney

Bunyan's Chimney

Bunyan’s Chimney

John Bunyan’s Chimney can be found in a small public garden on a walk through Coleman Green, near Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire. This mid to late 17th century brick chimney is all that remains of a cottage where John Bunyan is said to have stayed and preached. Today, John Bunyan is perhaps best known as the author of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ but he was equally well known in his day for his Nonconformist sermons. He was a frequent visitor to Hertfordshire and preached in many of its villages.

The list description notes: “The SW side of the base appears to be a C18 addition, blocking the original inglenook. Timber bressumer visible within the stack. On SW side is a commemorative plaque to John Bunyan who preached at the cottage on this site from time to time.”

The rest of the cottage, and the two buildings next to it, were demolished in 1877, when new cottages were built across the road.

The Chimney features in a series of Heritage Trails put together by Wheathampstead Heritage.

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Chapel of the Month – July 2016

Blythburgh Chapel in the early C20

Blythburgh Chapel in the early C20

This month we bring you an overview of Blythburgh Primitive Methodist Chapel, Dunwich Road, Blythburgh, Suffolk by Alan Mackley.

This delightful building is sadly ‘at risk’ and the Chapels Society is deeply concerned about its future.

The first chapel on the site was built in 1837 however, the present building has an 1870s date stone on its front elevation. Whether this represents a complete rebuild or an enlargement of an earlier building is not known. The chapel is a modest brick building, with an original exterior but no surviving interior furnishings.

Blythburgh Chapel in 2000.

Blythburgh Chapel in 2000

It is not listed and there is no reference to it in James Bettley’s East Suffolk volume in the ‘Pevsner’ series of Buildings of England.

However, the chapel has a very important place in Blythburgh history.  The Primitive Methodist nonconformist sect was attractive to the poor farm labourers who made up the majority of Blythburgh’s population.

The 1851 census of religious attendance shows that many more people worshipped at the chapel than in the parish church (Holy Trinity – Grade I listed).

Blythburgh Chapel today.

Blythburgh Chapel today

Sadly, since its closure in the 1970s the physical condition of the chapel has steadily deteriorated though it has been used very occasionally for art exhibitions.  It is located on a very small plot and the lack of parking space and land at the rear has no doubt made finding an alternative use difficult.

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New OUP books on Whitefield and Wesley published

George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy
Edited by Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones – Whitefield flier 

  • Offers a reassessment of Whitefield’s life, and interprets him in a wide range of new contexts.
  • Includes examination of Whitefield’s chequered relationship with the Church of England, his engagement with the British overseas Empire, and Whitefield’s appropriation of elements of enlightened thought.
  • Explores Whitefield and the literary tradition of affectations.
  • Examines Whitefield’s understanding of evangelical conversion, his theological development, and his contribution to the formation of evangelical piety.

John Wesley in America: Restoring Primitive Christianity
Geordan Hammond – Wesley flier

  • This is the first book-length study of John Wesley’s experience in Georgia (1736-37)
  • Provides insight into a formative period in the life of John Wesley and the history of colonial Georgia
  • Contributes to the debate on the importance of the Georgia mission for later developments in Methodism by providing a detailed and clear picture of the mission and its context

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Building the Church – new Chapels Society publication available!

The Chapels Society is pleased to announce the publication of Building the Church (The Chapels Society Journal Volume 2) edited by Chris Skidmore.

The volume contains essays on James Weir: a Wesleyan Architect (Alan Brooks), The Building of Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford (Martin Wellings), Beautiful Zion: the transformation of Nonconformist identity in a Yorkshire mill town (Kenneth C Jackson) and Garden City Religion: the Free Churches of Letchworth and Welwyn (Clyde Binfield).

Chapels Society members will receive a copy of this volume, the second in The Chapels Society Journal series, as part of their membership. Non-members can obtain a copy for £15 including postage and packing

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Taking Stock – and online resource for Roman Catholic churches

The results of the Taking Stock exercise for Roman Catholic churches have been put online.

This initiative began in 2005 and aimed to assess the historical and architectural importance of every Roman Catholic church and chapel within a diocese, with details shown on the Taking stock website.

The project is a partnership between the Patrimony Committee of the Bishops’ Conference, Historic England and individual dioceses.

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Chapel of the Month – June 2016

This month we have a contribution from Ray and Marie Ella who were keen to share some information about their cherished home – a very small Primitive Methodist Chapel built in 1859 in Cumberworth near Alford, Lincolnshire.

Cumberworth Date Plaque

Cumberworth Date Plaque

Ray, a retired historian, and Marie bought the chapel in late 2015 and have carried out a great deal of research into its history. The results of their diligent efforts can be found on the My Primitive Methodist Ancestors website. This is a great example of the value of local research and the potential to be able to share this information widely via the internet.

Ray and Marie are also the proud owners of two Primitive Methodist Centenary plates. An interesting article illustrating the Centenary plates can be found on Dave’s Little Blog.

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Chapel of the Month – May 2016

As you may have noticed, the Chapels Society’s website ran into technical trouble earlier this month. The gremlins have now been ousted and we are back in business, but as we are getting close to the end of the month we have decided to take a break from Chapel of the Month in May and come back with a new posting in June.

Can we also please remind all fans of chapels that we are always looking for new contributions. Please get in touch to volunteer your services!

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Chapels of England by Christopher Wakeling

Chapels of England is the first substantial synoptic account of Nonconformist church architecture in England.

It includes examples from the seventeenth century to the present day, covering all parts of the country and each of the main religious traditions within Nonconformity. The book sets these examples in the architectural, religious and cultural context of the development of English Nonconformity.

The book is authored by eminent architectural historian and former Chapels Society President, Dr Christopher Wakeling, and is available to pre-order via the Oxbow Books website.

With thanks to the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance for this news item.

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Methodist Heritage News – Spring edition is now out

The Spring edition of Methodist Heritage News includes information on becoming a volunteer district heritage ambassador, a report on a new exhibition housed in the back kitchen at Epworth Old Rectory, which tells the story of British women in Methodism, and an article about the Methodist Chapel on Fair Isle, Britain’s most remote inhabited island.

The newsletter can be downloaded free from the Methodist Heritage website.

With thanks to the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance for this news item.

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Virtual views of Welsh chapels

Last year, Addoldai Cymru, in partnership with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW), launched virtual tours of four of its chapels:

  • Bethania
  • Peniel
  • Yr Hen Gapel
  • Hen Dŷ Cwrdd.

The project included laser scanning the interiors to create “fly-throughs” and computer animations.

The RCAHMW also created 360 degree “virtual tours” using gigapixel photography. The films of all four chapels can now be viewed on the Welsh Chapels website

With thanks to the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance for this news item.

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