The return from Meon Stoke Primitive Methodist chapel in the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious Worship records that the meeting room held 60 people seated and 20 more standing. In the preceding 12 months, the average attendance was 10 in the afternoon and 40 in the evening; there was no regular morning service. However, on census Sunday, 28 attended a morning service, 61 the afternoon and 84 in the evening.
CJ Hume, the Anglican Rector of the parish of Meonstoke (sic) cried foul. “NB I think it just and necessary to add to this return – that the Place of Meeting herein certified is simply a room, in a dwelling house occupied by Two separate families – The room has been used for religious worship about 10 or 12 years at most – and measuring 13 feet square and about 7½ feet high, cannot possibly contain free sittings for 60 persons and standing room for 20. Moreover, the average Number reported does not represent the estimate of Dissent in this village. A meeting room being opened here, they come from surrounding places – and on the day of Census extraordinary pains were taken to get up large numbers.”
Fiddling the figures?