East Stanley Primitive Methodist Chapel

Chester Road

Taken from the sales listing held in the Newcastle District Archives

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  • What an Interesting article. My Gran attended this chapel and we held her funeral there. She was the most godly, beautiful person and my inspiration.
    I also lived in Oxhill Chapel after it became a private house, it had a lovely atmosphere and we held Church fellowship groups there.
    Alice Rowell was my Gran, she would be proud that her oldest Grandson, though a boy of 7 when she passed, now pastors a new Church in Consett for Stanley and Consett folk.
    From generation to generation.
    Thank you for sharing.

    By Eileen Ridley (19/02/2021)
  • This is actually EAST Stanley PM chapel, on Chester Road. The chapel is now closed and the last I heard it was still up for sale

    The following transcription is taken from the original notes made by Mrs Nightingale, without alteration to the text or grammar used. The original documents are held in the Newcastle Methodist District archive and are in very poor condition. Date written, unknown but prior to 1939 when the document was re-written with additions by GH Parbrook (14 Jan 1939).

    Accession details: Nightingale J S (PM/CH/STANLEYPM/**)


    Mrs J S Nightingale, Stanley PM Church

    When Primitive Methodism came to our town, it was a very different Stanley to that which we see today. It was largely fields, not even Joicey Square was there, only a few houses as compared with today. Tanfield and Harelaw Parish Churches were the only places of worship, except an upper room at Kip Hill, where the Wesleyans held worship. It is said that John Wesley preached in that room. In 1823 a Camp Meeting was held at Collierley Dykes, Dipton and amongst others attending were a man and woman from Shield Row W Anderson and Jane Luke. They were converted and Jane Luke opened her kitchen for services.

    Mrs Luke encouraged and invited her neighbours and friends to come in and at last they were overcrowded and Betty Gilchrist offered her larger kitchen for worship, and this was accepted.

    Betty became leader of the singing and also of the class. It was here that Will Harman and Mark Halliday met, also Mark Lowdon and the notable Tommy Fenwick. Betty had a day school in her kitchen. Mr J Raine of E[ast] Stanley remembers how the old lady gathered the children round like a Sunday School. The Alphabet and Figures were taught. It was meagre education and the days of dear bread. The Foggins of View Pit used to be members and sometimes Betty would send children a message to Mr Foggin and as a reward the child wold get the crusts from her toast. Then there was competition for the crusts. If the children behaved badly on the Sunday during service, to use a local phrase she walloped them on the Monday. In spite of great poverty and hard work these brave men and women carried the torch of Primitive Methodism in these early days. It is not a little striking that for 30 years services were carried on in the kitchens. Two popular hymns of that time were “The Union” and “Jacob’s Ladder”.

    Members at last increased, the kitchen was not large enough. At the top o the row behind the fountain were 2 old houses they belonged to Mr Joicey, he was approached & gave them to us. The partition wall was knocked out, windows altered & fitted up. In 1853 in was opened out as our first PM Church at Stanley.

    When we rose to the dignity of a church we wanted help for the singing so George Appleby played the fiddle and Bill Pearson was our first choir master. He was father of Bob Pearson who was at one time choir master of this church. Mr Cresswell was Super[intendent] of the Sunday School. Mr Miller joined up as a teacher – the members were very suspicious that he was a German, he believed in corporal punishment and carried a cane to keep order.

    In this little church John Lowery the evangelist met with marvellous success. Robert Gray was one of the first converts who became a most acceptable local preacher. Another great revival took under John Dodgson. Great scenes were witnessed in this little church. Mr Beaney used to get so excited in prayer that he used to fall over the children and the other members used to prop hi up with their heads to get the children out. Tommy Fenwick, another mighty man in prayer and desperately earnest about getting people converted using quaint sayings with his eccentric ways, lives to be revered and talked about to this day. So great was their success in this unadorned little building that they were compelled to seek more commodious premises.

    It is of interest to note here that John Coe, one of the founders of Tanfield Lea met in this church, also that Tommy Fenwick, Jane Luke and Robert Gray were among the founders of Oxhill Chapel.

    In 1864 during the ministry of Moses Lupton and T Southern the present church was built. W Park cut the first sod and Mr Raine wheeled the first barrow load away. Mr Fawcett, grandfather of our GF was contractor for all joinery. Is it any wonder that the grandson should have become in our day the handy man he is. Mr Allan was the builder. Prominent members connected with us at this date were J Raine, Nichol Summerbell, Mark Halliday, W Proud Anderson, J Price, Nicholson, George and William Sanderson, The Johnson family, Matthew Richardson, W Burns, Ralph Surtees, W Park, James Wright. As our church at this time belonged to Shotley Bridge, we had not resident minister. Rev T Greenfield was always entertained at the house of Mrs Anderson. Rev Nation had his home with Mrs Surtees. Mr Nation was a humorous man; he used to say at a public meeting that there was a whole nation on the platform The Rev. T Parsons, a Zaccheus in stature, who sometimes had to stand on a box to be seen, was entertained by Mrs Johnson, mother of the late Batholomew Johnson.

    In these days very peremptory treatment was meted out to offenders. If a local preacher missed an appointment he must drop a number in the Plan. One Sunday He[nry] Curry neglected Burnhope, and the Quarter Day asked the minister to see him and administer suitable counsel to him respecting his neglected appointment. There was no respect of persons so far as weather conditions. Ann Gray frequently neglected in the winter months, each time she was pulled up, and must give her reason. Tanfield Lea sent a request that Ann Gray be not planned again there. But this time Quarter Day thought Ann’s excuse valid and said Tanfield Lea must take whoever was planned and no more said.

    A Brother belonging to Causey had not paid his class money to the Circuit Steward nor forwarded it to Quarter Day, so they passed a resolution that he be informed by note that it must be paid forthwith. These were the good old days. The days that will never come again. But if this Spartan spirit frequently showed itself in our fathers treatment of their brethren surely it sprang out of a deep concern for the well being of their church, and an intense loyalty for Christ and his Kingdom.

    In 1866 Stanley became head of a circuit of 12 places. The Shotley Bridge officials thought that we would soon want to be back to the Mother Circuit but with Rev A Latimer and J Welford at its head from the very start the Circuit went with a swing. The growth in finance and numbers was a wonder to all.

    Stanley can have no conception what it owes to those devoted ministers. Mr Latimer’s manse was not ready for him when he came so he stayed in the home of Mrs Halliday, and later the circuit presented [her] with a chair as an expression of thankfulness for lodging the superintendent minister. Mr Halliday was circuit steward at the time.

    In 1869 Stanley asked permission to beg for an organ. We had only a one fiddle band and at the following quarter day they had got the money and asked to have a special opening day but that organ had evidently dwindled to a harmonium. We had raised £20 and the instrument had cost £17 10s. In December 1896 our present organ was erected and we had already raised £118 toward its cost, and at that time most of the stringed instruments were sold.

    In 1871 we were very anxious to keep Mr Latimer beyond the time allowed as Stanley was busy with a bazaar and also because they were very much in love with Mr & Mrs Latimer. They approached the District Committee but the powers that be said No. Rev Ralph Shields was appointed Superintendent. About this time we had our Church licensed for marriages. At the Annual Trustees’ meeting held 4 January 1890 it is recorded.. that the marriage licence be got for the Chapel. One half of the cost to be borne by Mr James Scott and Mr Matthew Richardson, the other half by Rev A Latimer. The first to be married were Joseph Chapman and the maid of the second preacher. They were presented with a bible and hymn book.

    It is also notable that we collected our 1st supcriptions [sic] for African missions. The 1st missionaries went out in 1870. Withall our concentration and enthusiasm in making efforts for church building and other purposes we were not forgetful of others. Just at this time there was a case of distress in connection with a chapel in Blyth circuit and £6 was sent by Stanley Circuit. In 1869 too East Stanley appears on the circuit plan for week nights only. Of course in those days East Stanley meant Jacky’s Pit for there were few if any houses between Beamish and Stanley. In this year also quarter day was deeply concerned about the spiritual life of our churches. They were faced with a decrease of 31 members. A resolution was passed that a society meeting be held at every church to urge upon the members to seek a revival of religion and a salvation of souls. Joseph Spoor said that he hated lukewarmness worse than the devil that was the feeling of many in that quarter day. They decided that the remedy was to get outside and bring the people in, so at every church it was arranged to have an open air meeting at 5 o.c. and out they went to exhort the people to “Turn to the Lord and seek salvation”.

    Evidently the efforts at evangelism were successful for in 1873 we had to apply for leave to enlarge Stanley Church and Quarter Day reports an increase of 114 members for which they give thanks to God. The stones for enlarging Stanley Church were quarried by our men to save expense. A man who went by the name of Cumberland Jack not a member but a clever workman (a drainer) was a valuable help to our men. He lodged with Margaret Rae of Joicey Square. W Price, W Park, J Newton, Messrs Raine, Richard, Anderson, Surtees, Summerbelt, the Johnson’s, Sanderson’s, Liddles, Foggins, Ned Ridley, W Noble Halliday and many others including men not in any way connected with our Church were a great help in getting stone. This was most laborious work the getting and carrying of the stones, but these mend worked early and late in their devotion and loyalty to reach their goal in extension, and it is to these brave men we owe the buildings in which we carry on work. 6/- money they had little, but what they lacked financially they made up for in downright hard work of the character we have mentioned.

    I noticed an item of expenditure in our account book of that year. It was a pony 9s 10d. I couldn’t think what it could mean. My husband jokingly suggested that it might have been bought for the use of either the society steward or the minister but out old friend Mr Wilson explained the matter. It appears that the stones were got from a quarry behind the Church and at first the men used to put a rope round their waists and drag them, but this was as we may well imagine very hard work and they got some old rails laid down and bought the pony to pull. When the poor old pony’s work was finished it was sold again for £7 10s

    In these days our denomination had no Sir Wm Hartley to create a Chapel Aid Association to assist struggling trusts and new ventures so that the money required was borrowed from the 10th Universal Building Society. Mr Joicey’s donation was £40 and another £50 was raised by the tea and stone laying.

    Not the least interesting were the methods adopted for providing the ways and means for the payments of items of expenditure which do not come into our balance sheet in these days. Of course there were pew rents always a source of income in these earlier years, and fruit banquets so numerous as to suggest out fathers vegetarian leanings. We had a boiler that proved a source of income. It was purchased in 1870 for £2 5s – even the Roman Catholics were indebted for the use of it. So frequent were its journeyings and sometimes so distant we are not surprised that in 1876 £2 12s 6d is paid for repairs. Xmas Day was a heyday in raising money. ½ lb of candles is a common item as were lamp glasses, and gallons of paraffin or parfine as it was called. In 1872 an account for gas fittings appears and parfine ends showing how the world was moving. What they did with pipe clay and bath brick we must leave the congregation to judge. It is evident that the trustees were much concerned for the safety of the worshippers in walking down the steps of the church as there is an item – 1 block of salt for the steps.

    Lovefeasts and also cottage prayer meetings were very much in vogue. Also the Class meetings were held in the homes of our people. There is no doubt that these happy meetings helped to create the happy family spirit and would tempt neighbours to come in and enjoy fellowship. Open air services were regularly held before the evening services. Our fathers believed in fighting the Devil on his own ground. Ralph Surtees frequently used to pray to God to send a bombshell into the camp of the enemy. Matthew Richardson, one of our pioneers, conducted a memorable service in the day school at West Pelton. The spirit of God came down like a mighty rushing river and several of the roughest characters were so deeply stirred that they came jumping over desks and forms crying out for mercy. At this service in their young manhood Hamilton Staines, John Haddon, Joseph Wagott and a host of other young men and women began the new life.

    Most Primitive Methodists have heard of the remarkable prayers of Tommy Fenwick. One story as to how he got the milk for the Sunday School treat from the unwilling farmer by his prayer is worthy of mention, although familiar. This man, Moore, had refused when Tommy dropped on to his knees and gave thanks to God for the wonderful harvest and increase of flocks, which had come to the farer that year. But Lord, he added, thou canst turn the tide. Thou canst send a lightning to fire the stack, locusts can eat every head off the corn and the cattle can get the foot and mouth disease. This was enough and the farmer cried out to Tommy, Houd thee tongue, and thou shalt have the milk and as much butter as thee wants for the teacakes.

    When he first came amongst us and was being brought forward as a preacher, action was being taken in a certain quarterly meeting to keep him off the plan because of his limitations when a significant if not a providential thing happened. The Superintendent Minister who was in the chair, called upon Brother Fenwick to pray, meaning his colleague, Rev Ralph Fenwick, but Tommy Fenwick who was in the meeting, thinking that the call was to himself, knelt down and prayed with such wonderful effect that he settled once and for all any question as to his coming on the plan as a preacher.

    When he was planned, it was always a great day with him. He generally wore a clerical coat and vest, the castaways of Mr Blythurst, the vicar of Harelaw. He was on very intimate terms with the vicar and once he asked to be allowed to preach in the church, which was agreed to on condition that he put the surplice on. “No, no!” said Tommy, if aw cannot preach without thee cloak aws not coming. He would give out his hymn with his book upside down, and say, Noo, ye all know where she is, Jesus the name high over all in hell etc.

    What he read for his lesson was bits of passages he had committed to memory. When he got to his text his coat was off and he would say, ye talk texts, but this book is full of them from back to back, so we’ll just take this one. God so loved the world etc. and yet we are told that people could not wait till the service was finished in their eagerness to get to the penitent form.

    Neddy Bailey was another quaint man. He used to come to class in his pit clothes and often when speaking his experience would say Neddy Bailey dies daily. Can we be surprised that all this intense fellowship and evangelistic effort paved the way to revivals, in which our revered William Atkinson, Walton Armstrong among others were converted.

    I must mention our Sunday Schools, for we owe a great debt to those [who] carried on work under great difficulty. From the days of Betty Gilchrist gathering the children round her until the present we have had a devoted band of Sunday School workers. At one time our staff of teachers was so low that there were only four young men to carry on the school. They were T Raine, Bart. Johnson, W Park and Jack Summerbell.

    Not only the children but men and women also were taught to read in the Sunday School. Our dear old friend Mrs Carol tells how her husband and she were converted and the next night she said to her husband, We’ll have to read a chapter every night Joe. He said but I can’t read, Oh but I know some words, you spell and I’ll tell those I know and perhaps we’ll make out what the message is about. This went on for a little while, and Mr Carol said, I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll go down to the Sunday School and learn to read there. The men who attended the Sunday School as scholars knew their places and Neddy Bailey once Sunday got his verse off, but unfortunately some one was missing that day and when his verse was read by the man before him he was nonplussed, and jumping up ran out into the field. Down on his knees prayed God to help him to read his word. No wonder our men were so keen to support progressive educational measures brought before the House of Commons, and we shall ever gratefully remember the late Alderman Curry Wood for in this connection than perhaps no other has rendered greater service not only in Stanley but in the whole of County Durham.

    In 1884 the Circuit was divided, Burnopfield being head of the new circuit. Rev Mr Bowe remained at Stanley, Mr E Phillipson went to White-le-head. We had at that time 399 in our Stanley circuit. Today we have over 1000.

    The circuit demonstration was always a popular occasion. One held shortly after the circuit division we have an account of. It was held in Bates’ field East Stanley. Rev John Waite was minister at the time. Rev. Wm Batey gave a lecture on “Mistakes and Blunders in Life”. Bros Walker and Gray were appointed to get up a marquee and fix it up in the field. Bro Waley’s duty was to fix up the tables, Joe Wilson and Fred Lighton were to look after the water and boil it. Bro. Matthew Armstrong and Illey were to get the women to make the tea. The result of that effort was to pay off the Quarter Day deficiency and also a nice little sum off the house. At this time the Manse began to show signs of distress and had to be thoroughly overhauled and repaired.

    One cannot but read with great satisfaction the place the women took in helping to build our Zion. I have already pointed out how we owe our beginning to 2 women opening their kitchens. The first to hear the gospel preached in Europe were a band of women who were holding a prayer meeting at the river side and they so helped to spread the wonderful story that it became known all over Europe. While it is not possible to mention the names of all these brave women of the past, there are a few who in honour should receive a tribute. Mrs Anderson, Summerbell, Armstrong (the mother of MG), the three Reay’s, Armstrong (mother of Mrs Daglish), Buglass, Ridley, Brown (a motherly soul noted for her sick nursing) and later Mrs Rowe and Mrs Newton whose memories are revered by many for their devotion especially in connection with the sewing meetings. Still spared to us are Mrs Carol, Robinson, Sanderson, Thompson, Fawcett and Wilson.

    And of the men we have already spoken of a number who were foremost in good works, James Price (excitable in prayer, equally great in service), the Johnson family played a great part Bart. Johnson and memory will ever be an ointment poured forth. We have perhaps only 7 survivors connected with the Church, from these now distant days, men who in their youth, found their Saviour and amidst sunshine and shadow in our church have loyally held on their way. These are Bill Hawes, Joseph Wilson, Matthew Armstrong, John Newton, E Small, T Raine, Thomas and Edward Fawcett. So I might pursue this wonderful story and bring it to our own times, but the company of redeemed souls who have been gathered into our church is so large that we cannot really enumerate them, who have taken up the unfinished tasks of their fathers, have rendered service of which they need not be ashamed.

    By Richard Jennings (22/09/2020)

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