Dovercourt Central Primitive Methodist chapel

What's the link to Upper Dovercourt chapel?

Dovercourt Central Methodist chapel
Christian Messenger 1919/200

There is an account by John Allison of the laying of the foundation stone for Dovercourt Primitive Methodist chapel in the 1866 Primitive Methodist magazine.

The land was leased from RJ Bagshaw on a 99 year lease at 6 pence per year and the stone was laid by J Dore.  Speakers at the stone laying ceremony and following tea meeting wereRev J Winkfield (Hadleigh), W Howlett, John Allison, L Richmond and Revs Barker, Trethewey, Winkfield and Hammond. Miss Smith (Yarmouth) “ably presided at the piano, and played a number of pieces of the most enchanting kind”.

The chapel was planned to cost £126 and they expected the funds to be raised within the first year.

When I first read the magazine account,  I took this to be Upper Dovercourt chapel as it has the same 1866 date (which came from Keith Guyler’s photograph).  However, when I checked the Ordnance Survey map for 1898, not only is Upper Dovercourt chapel marked but another Primitive Methodist chapel marked further east along Main Road, opposite the junction for Barrack Road in Dovercourt itself. On the 1923 and 1955 maps it is labelled Central Hall and has the same footprint.  It is still there in 1971 but with a different (illegible) label.  In September 2016 Google Street View shows the site occupied by Park Court flats (CO12 3DF).

So that seems clear – except that the chapel is not on the 1876 map but the Upper Dovercourt chapel is!  The explanation comes from the Christian Messenger of 1912

“The first preaching place in the town of Harwich was in Church Street; next, services were held in a rented room in George Street, afterwards in Church Lane, and then a small iron chapel was erected near the Masonic Hall. The present Central Church is pleasantly and prominently situated in Dovercourt, adjoining Harwich, and serves well for both places. It was erected in 1895, during the ministry of Rev. John Buck, and is a Gothic structure, seating about three-hundred-and-fifty, with school-room accommodation for two-hundred, and land reserved for class-rooms. The cost was £1,835, of which £1,213 has been raised. “

So the church in the picture and on the Ordnance Survey maps is  from 1895 which is why it is not on the 1876 map.  But where was the 1866 chapel.  Do you have a stone laying for a tin chapel?

Help needed!


Christian Messenger 1912/200

Primitive Methodist magazine December 1866 pages 746-747

Comments about this page

  • Essex Record Office :
    ref. C1367 – (D NM8 ?0 ), Upper Dovercourt Primitive Methodist Chapel.

    ref. C1367 – (D/NM84), Harwich Primitive Methodist Chapel/Central Chapel, Dovercourt.

    ref.D/M 9/7/1-2, Dovercourt Primitive Methodist Central, Main Road, documents, -/1, duplicate marriages 1903-1918, -/2, baptisms 1918-1930s.

    ref. D/NM 76/4/1/2, baptisms, 1885-1936, — 1990, Harwich Primitive Methodist Circuit, etc., includes a loose list of baptisms at PM Central c.1915-1917. From 1936* baptisms at Central C., Upper Dovercourt.

    *Their unification may have been in 1936 and central location chapel/church may have changed; or not.

    By Raymond E. 0. Ælla (20/11/2021)
  • Are Dovercourt and Harwich the same place? This chapel has a lot in common with the story of Harwich Primitive Methodist chapel – including replacing an iron chapel with a permanent one. See this page.

    By Christopher Hill (27/06/2021)

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