Bawtry Phoenix Theatre is a former Primitive Methodist chapel. It still carries the original date stone, although the words “Primitive Methodist chapel” have been removed.
In the Primitive Methodist magazine, Henry Knowles wrote about the foundation stone laying and subsequent opening of Bawtry Primitive Methodist chapel in the Retford circuit.
Bawtry, Retford Circuit.—After repeated attempts to procure land in this place, R. M. Milnes, Esq., M.P., consented to sell. The purchase being effected, on Friday, August 8th, 1862, by request the members and friends met from several parts of the station, at the preaching room in Bawtry, at two o’clock in the afternoon, formed a procession, and sang through the principal streets to the site of the contemplated building ; and although the weather was unfavourable the company was large, and attracted the attention of the inhabitants, many of whom at tended to witness the ceremony.
The Rev. H. Knowles gave out the hymn beginning with ” Except the Lord conduct the plan,” &c. ; the Rev. W. Harland engaged in prayer, during which a gracious influence prevailed ; another hymn having been sung George Naylor Esq. (a Wesleyan local preacher) proceeded to lay the stone ; and then remarked that he felt himself honoured by having the privilege of laying the first stone of a building in which he did not for one moment doubt but that the truth, as it is in Jesus, would be plainly and faithfully preached, and he hoped that it would become the birthplace of many precious souls ; for he had long thought that his Primitive friends had been very much inconvenienced, for want of a better place in which to conduct their religious worship; and though he did belong to another denomination of Christians he should have a pleasure in tendering assistance towards so desirable an object.
The weather still being unpropitious, the company repaired to the Independent chapel which was kindly placed at our service for the occasion, when an interesting sermon was delivered by the Rev. W. Harland, and was listened to with profit; after which a tea being gratuitously provided in a marquee, about two hundred and forty persons, besides the waiters and tray holders, partook of the bountiful repast.
In the evening a public meeting was convened in the above chapel, the chair was ably occupied by G. Naylor, Esq., and addresses were delivered by the Revs. T. Campey, W. Harland, W. Wesson, (Independent,) H. Knowles, J. G. Smith and Mr. G.Bex. The pecuniary proceeds for the day, including the chairman’s gift of £10, and a promise of £2 by Mr. G. Bee, of Retford, amounted to the handsome sum of £28 16s., and who ever lives to witness the opening services, and the winding up of the accounts, will find that there has been on the part of the friends and the public in general, a disposition to place the chapel in an easy position.
May the blessing of Him who dwelt in the bush, specially rest on all who favour Zion ; and may peace dwell within her borders, and prosperity within her palaces. Amen. Henry Knowles.
Bawtry, Retford Circuit.—The society in this town has suffered much for more than twenty years for want of a suitable place in which to worship ; land, however, has been procured of E. M. Milnes, Esq., M.P., in an eligible situation, on which a neat and comfortable edifice has now been erected, the opening services of which commenced on Friday, October 17th, 1862, with a sermon by the Rev. T. Hughes, Wesleyan minister, of Doncaster. A tea was provided in the Independent chapel, kindly lent for the occasion, after which a public meeting was convened, the chair being occupied by Mr. G. Rex, of Retford. Suitable addresses were delivered by the Revs. T. Hughes, T. Campey, W. Wesson, and H. Knowles. On Sunday, October 19th, two sermons were preached by the Rev. P. Milson, of Epworth ; and on Sunday, the 26th inst., the Rev. W. Harland preached to large congregations. We have great pleasure in stating that the liberality of the friends in the town and neighbourhood has far exceeded our expectations. The building has cost from £170 to £180, towards which nearly £90 have been raised by donations, collections, &c, besides the leadings. H. Knowles.
Primitive Methodist magazine 1862 page 754
Primitive Methodist magazine 1863 page 243-244