There are two returns from Primitive Methodists in Great Elm to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship, for two different preaching places. It is not clear whether these are separate societies or one society that met in two different places.
David Tonks tells us more:
The settlement of Great Elm in Somerset has existed since before the Norman Conquest. In 1851 there were 318 people living in the parish of Elm, with an additional 90 in the hamlet of Little Elm, which was some distance away, detached from the main parish. The twelfth-century parish church of St Mary Magdalene could seat 182 persons, although on Census Sunday the Rector commented that his afternoon congregation was depleted due to an outbreak of influenza. There was also a Wesleyan chapel with 120 sittings that also experienced a smaller congregation than normal. Influenza is not mentioned as a cause, but rather ‘because another place of Worship opened that evening by the Primitive Methodists which drew away a part of the Congregation’ according to the Chapel Steward.
This was the meeting house that opened in the house of Joseph Lavender, a labourer and local preacher on 30 March 1851. It could seat 36 persons and 28 attended in the evening. Strangely, there was already a Primitive Methodist place of worship in Great Elm that opened in about 1829 and could accommodate 50 persons. 36 attended in the afternoon and 31 in the evening. The form for the 1829 preaching place was completed by the minister, Moses Breach.
David speculates whether there had been a ‘falling out’ among the Primitive Methodists of Elm, with the support of one side from the Wesleyans.