Derry Hill Primitive Methodist Chapel, near Studley, Wiltshire

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Photo:1856 Derry Hill Primitive Methodist Chapel, semi derelict in 2000

1856 Derry Hill Primitive Methodist Chapel, semi derelict in 2000

Keith Guyler 2000

By David Young

I can give no information about this former Primitive Methodist chapel for sale on a main road outside Studley in Wiltshire: I merely pulled up in a lay-by opposite, took the photograph, and drove on.

However, maybe I can offer some thoughts which such sights prompt about how we feel when we see a chapel closed down and up for sale, or already transformed for some other use, or simply demolished? I have been to meetings for people interested in Methodist history, and although I know that I may well be mistaken, I seem to sense a wistful nostalgia for a lost era which cannot be repeated - a resigned surrender to a situation beyond mending; perhaps like the psalmist Asaph in Psalm 77:

I think of God, and I moan... and I say, “It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”... I will remember thy wonders of old.


But how did the early Primitive Methodists respond in 1853, when after decades of advance a decrease in membership of the Connexion of over a thousand was reported? Here is what the Primitive Methodist Magazine brought to members' notice:

The Conference appoints a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer, to be held on the 4th of October 1853, on account of our decrease, and in order to promote spiritual and numerical prosperity, which it hopes will be devoutly observed throughout all the Connexion, and that the God of all grace will mercifully hear the united supplications of the societies, and vouchsafe rich effusions of the Holy Spirit through the mediation of Jesus Christ.

Now - how do we respond today? With a sense that there can be neither hope nor help? Or more like those who led the Connexion in 1853? Or even like Isaiah, touched with a burning coal from the altar, who prayed:

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, "Here am I! Send me.”

Editor's note

This article was originally published as Studley PM Chapel, and renamed in light of the information contributed below.

This page was added by David Young on 15/07/2012.
Comments about this page

This is actually Derry Hill PM chapel and I believe it closed c.1990 (Studley chapel is still open).

By Adam Miller
On 12/09/2013

Thank you!

By David Young
On 18/09/2013

Derry Hill always hosted a Good Friday afternoon service attended by other members of the circuit. A fair few would always walk the couple of miles from Chippenham. There would be afternoon hymn singing followers by tea then an evening service. My friend couldn't believe the tea included only bread and butter and cakes but no jam. Subsequent years she brought her own jam to be surreptitiously spread! This caused much amusement.

By David Watts
On 05/09/2015

The Primitive Methodist magazine for August 1857 (pp.504-505) contains an account by John Richards of the opening of Derryhill (sic) Primitive Methodist chapel on Sunday 28th 1857.  Rev J Best of Bath preached at the opening, as did Rev J Richards, Rev W Harvey, Mr J Smith,  Messrs Breach, Samson, White, Butler and Mills.  Over 300 sat down to tea in the chapel and a tent erected in front.  

The chapel was 33' x 23' and 16' high, with brick walls 14 inches thick with freestone windows, door jambs and quoins and a slate roof. The Marquis of Lansdowne gave the land (complete with fence) and a donation of £10, and the overall cost was about £190. £90 had been raised.

John Richards describes Derry Hill as having a considerable population in its location near Bowood and on the Chippenham - Devizes Road. The society had been in existence for twenty years.

By Christopher Hill
On 13/01/2017

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