Redbourn Primitive Methodist Chapel, Hertfordshire

The chapel, c.1900
Geoff Webb, Herts Memories
The chapel in 1962
Geoff Webb, Herts Memories
East Common, Redbourn in November 2012 - the house behind the red car occupies the site of the PM chapel
David Noble

From the Primitive Methodist Magazine for 1858 we learn that the St Albans Mission included a society at Redbourn. At this date the St Albans Mission, and thus also Redbourn, was part of the Watford and St Albans Primitive Methodist circuit.

Wesleyan Methodists had had a chapel at North Common in the village since 1837, before Primitive Methodism had even arrived in Hertfordshire, but it was not until 1862 that the Primitive Methodist chapel was built at East Common. The first baptism at the chapel was recorded in that year.

The chapel, which could accommodate 100 people, was an example of the very common ‘nonconformist nondescript style’, typically a ‘long rectangle’ plan, with brick elevations under a pitched and clay tiled roof, with the gable facing the road, and with tall semicircular-circular headed windows. It was built of brick, the render on the front elevation probably being a later alteration. The front porch also appears to have been a subsequent addition, possibly at the time the elevation to the road was altered and the original windows were blocked up.

In 1877 the Primitive Methodist societies at St Albans and Redbourn split away from the Watford and St Albans Circuit and formed themselves into a separate circuit which become known as the St Albans Mission. In Urwick’s 1884 survey of Nonconformity in Herts, Redbourn is included in the “List of Places of Meeting for Religious Worship certified to the Registrar-General since 1st July 1852”.

The chapel at Redbourn transferred to the Luton circuit in 1887. By 1933 this had become the Luton and Dunstable Primitive Methodist Circuit, and a circuit plan for that year refers to Hertfordshire chapels at Trowley Bottom, Bendish, Harpenden (Southdown Road), Redbourn and St Albans (Boundary Road).

At Methodist Union in 1932 it seems that it was proposed that the Primitive Methodist chapel at East Common should unite with the Wesleyan chapel at North Common; however, it took some while for both congregations to agree to this move because amalgamation did not occur until 1939. During the Second World War the East Common chapel was let to industrial users. The 1940 Statistical Returns of the Methodist Church record that the building had been “damaged by enemy action” in the Second World War. In 1946 it was sold to the Open Brethren and once again used for worship. However, by 1962, the building was in a sorry state and it was soon demolished. A house now stands on the site.



Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1858

A History of the County of Hertford , Volume 2, Victoria County History, 1908

Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies: NM5/18, NM5/43, NM2/4/5, NM7/1

Methodist Church, Methodist Church Buildings – Statistical Returns including seating accommodation as at July 1st, 1940 (Manchester: Department for Chapel Affairs, 1947)

William Urwick, Nonconformity in Herts (London: Hazell, Watson and Viney Limited, 1884)

Herts Memories web site:

Comments about this page

  • There are christenings for Redbourn in the Watford & St Albans register for 1852 and 1853 so the congregation presumably dates from at least then.

    By Neil Rees (25/07/2015)

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