Shadwell, Blue Gate Fields Primitive Methodist Chapel

The first Primitive Methodist Chapel in London; opened 1832

The first Primitive Methodist preachers reached London in the early 1820s, but found it hard to make any progress. Hundreds were converted, but without suitable places of worship, the societies remained small.

Laying the foundation stone

In 1830, a small piece of land in Blue Gate Fields, Shadwell, was bought to build a new chapel. On 1 November 1831, people gathered at their preaching room, in New Gravel Lane, and marched in procession to Shadwell, to witness the laying of the foundation stone, by Rev Alexander Fletcher, of Finsbury.

Opening services

Finally, on Friday 8 June 1832, the chapel was opened. Three services were held. In the morning at 11.00am, the preacher was Rev George Evans, of Brunswick Chapel; in the afternoon at 3.00pm, the service was taken by Rev John Pyer, the city missionary; and in the evening at 6.00pm, by Rev Alexander Fletcher.

Unfortunately it was a very wet day, and the morning and afternoon services were poorly attended (although being a working day, that was perhaps to be expected). However, in the evening the crowds turned out.

The new chapel

The building measured 53′ by 36′, and 22′ 6″ from floor to ceiling. There were 17 windows, and one fan light. It had a gallery on two sides, and a beautiful vestry with sliding shutters, which could be opened to accommodate a large congregation if needed. At the front of the chapel was a beautiful, ornamental eight day clock, given by Mrs Sarah Gardner, of Long Acre.

A ‘neat and commodious place of worship’

Altogether it cost over £1,200, but was said to be ‘a very cheap, neat, and commodious place of worship’. In 1833 , the minister, John Oscroft, reported that it was well attended, the society was increasing, and they had started a Sunday School.

Reference

John Oscroft, ‘Opening of a P.M. Chapel, at London etc.’, Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1833, p.266-67

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