Willington Primitive Methodist chapel

Detective work to trace this chapel to County Durham

site of former Willington Primitive Methodist chapel

The Primitive Methodist magazine contains reports of chapel building at Willington.

The March 1880 Primitive Methodist magazine (page 187) records the laying of memorial stones for new chapels at a number of places – including Willington. No detail is given, other than to name J Pease as the person who laid the stone.

The May 1887 Primitive Methodist magazine (page 316) records the opening of a “new and commodious place of worship” at Willington “with every prospect of success”. ” We note with some pleasure that the vicar readily afforded the friends the use of the schoolroom for the tea meeting. If vicars generally would show more sympathy with our people it would be none the worse for their parishes”

The problem is that there are several places called Willington – in Bedfordshire, County Durham, Derbyshire, Flintshire, Kent and Warwickshire.  but which one do they relate to? Furthermore, given the dates. it is quite possible that these two accounts relate to two different Willingtons!

It’s quite a detective story! Follow it through in the comments below, starting from the bottom up.

We started by ruling out the Willington it wasn’t: David Young points out that the accounts are not about Willington chapel  in Flintshire , Anne Langley ruled out Warwickshire and Howard Richter ruled out Derbyshire, Bedfordshire and Kent.

Then David Tonks, Howard Richter and Richard Jennings looked at the positive evidence for County Durham from local sources such as newspapers and Ordnance Survey maps, weighing the significance of the name J Pease and the dates.

That then left the issue of there being two accounts of chapel openings, seven years apart.  Howard Richter suggests an explanation for that. All we need to do now is resolve which chapel is which.


Comments about this page

  • There is an account of Primitive Methodism in Willington, County Durham, in W M. Patterson, Northern Primitive Methodism (1909) pp. 99 – 101: “In 1862, after some delays, a chapel was built… Over twenty years ago [i.e the 1880s] the present church capable of seating nearly 500 persons, was erected… “

    By John Anderson (17/09/2023)
  • Howard Richter considered the fact that there were two accounts, 7 years apart, for apparently different chapels.

    It may be relevant that there were in those days (1890s.) chapels on the outskirts of Willington ‘Town’, serving colliers at outlying collieries.

    One here, to the north-west, is named as PM


    This is Oakenshaw (Central) in Circuit 1060 in the 1940 list

    and there may be another to the south-west at Willington Colliery. Two are shown as ‘Chap.’ but not named: the easterly one, by the Q of ‘Queen Street’, was later U.M.


    The western one is here


    PM once-upon-a-time? Yes, this is Sunny Brow (Central Street) in Circuit 1060 in the 1940 list . .

    I dare to say that the two dates you quote in your ‘Unknown’ item refer to one of these two and to the large chapel I noted previously, but which is which, and when, I leave for you to ponder!

    (The chapels had 50-year birthdays in 1930 and 1937 respectively . . . )

    By Christopher Hill (26/11/2020)
  • Howard Richter comments:
    It does seem to me that the Willington you seek is the one east of Crook.
    The candidate building was at NZ 1960 3534

    Late in the C19, a chapel appeared on the north side of the High Street towards its western end

    This site was only a field on the 25-inch map dated “1857-1874”


    but on the 1861 six-inch there was a PM out in the country, a mile or so to the west


    (that is, there was Primitivism round about). (NB. The Old maps site is no longer freely accessible)

    The 1897 25-inch map shows a sizable chapel on a large site in the town


    NLS compare-and-contrast today’s satellite and the 1897 map

    (Use the blue slider on the left-hand side)

    The building is shown, but not named, on the “1962-1971” 25-inch map


    The site today


    (This chapel came down in relatively recent times: there must surely be a picture out there)

    By Christopher Hill (26/11/2020)
  • . . . nor Bedfordshire . . . nor Kent

    By Howard Richter (24/11/2020)
  • I do not see any PM in Willington, Derbyshire on the 25″ maps of 1882 and 1901

    By Howard Richter (24/11/2020)
  • David Tonks adds “Willington nr Crook, Co Durham is a possibility. According to local newspaper reports there was a golden wedding celebration in 1915, the marriage having taken place fifty years previously in the PM chapel (so there was a chapel there in 1865); there was a PM Society there in 1884; Rev A T Guttery lectured at the chapel in December 1890.

    It was reported that the chapel celebrated its fifty year jubilee in November 1930, and the Bishop of Durham was a speaker. I vaguely remember that the old chapel in Lydia Street, Willington was on the market a few years ago, and it would appear that there is now a new building in, of course, Wesley Street.

    By Christopher Hill (02/09/2020)
  • Thanks Richard: that feels like a step forward with at least one of these two references.

    By Christopher Hill (26/08/2020)
  • In the northeast, the Willington PM chapel (in Co. Durham near Crook not to be confused with Willington Quay PM in Newcastle) was for a time the head of a Circuit in the 1920s.
    That “J Pease” laid the stone in 1880 would suggest Sir Joseph Whitwell Pease who was the MP for the area at that time. Whilst being a Quaker, he was a great supporter of both the PMs and the UMFC and in Sept 1880, gave £10 towards the erection of the PM chapel at Forest & Frith, Teesdale.
    This is outside of my area but am sure the Darlington District Archivist would be able to advise further information

    By Richard Jennings (22/08/2020)
  • Thanks Anne: 2 down – 4 to go

    By Christopher Hill (22/08/2020)
  • I think we can rule out the Warwickshire Willington: it’s a tiny place (unlikely to support a ‘commodious’ chapel); I have not found any reference to it in my research and there is no sign of a chapel on the OS 25″ 1st edition maps of the 1880s & 1900s.

    By Anne Langley (22/08/2020)

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