In the Primitive Methodist magazine of June 1869, John Tuck tells us about the opening of Chipping Norton Primitive Methodist chapel.
The town was first missioned in the late 1850s by preachers such as John Webb from the steps of the Town Hall. They met with persecution; Thomas Gibbard, who preached on the first Sunday, warning his successor, George Webb, “I shall go and disturb the wasps, and you will follow to have them about your head and to feel the force of their poison”
They met for some time in a room in “a low yard” at the back of a pub, but it caught fire on the night of February 10th 1868. Soon after the fire, the Wesleyan chapel became available and they bought it on Good Friday 1868 for £200. You can read how the Wesleyans reached that stage on our Wesleyan Methodist site here.
Opening services started on June 28th 1868. Preachers at the services, tea and meetings included John Tuck and Revs P Pugh, T East (Congregationalist), M Rayand and H Heys. Miss Leaver presented a splendid communion service.
The 1922 Ordnance survey map shows a Primitive Methodist chapel on Diston’s Lane, set back from the road. Street View doesn’t go there, but satellite view shows that a building still exists on the same site; is that the chapel?
But it’s not quite that simple; the 1899 map labels that location as a Baptist chapel. The 1881 map simply labels it “chapel”. So where was the 1868 Primitive Methodist chapel?
See the comments below to unscramble my confusion.
Martin Hannant, the Senior Steward at Chipping Norton Methodist Church in 2021 provides more detail – and the picture.
“In winter the Primitive chapel had an old round tortoise stove for heating and if you arrived early enough and got a seat next to it, it was a very comfortable place to be when the winds blew cold outside.
The Primitive Methodists had a system whereby services were taken by local preachers and some very interesting characters came to preach in Distons Lane. As they came from the villages around and preached in the morning and again in the evening, it was the custom for some member of the congregation to invite them for dinner. One dear old gentleman from Great Tew was due to preach this particular Sunday but owing to some breakdown in communications had not been invited for a meal. He arrived with his dinner in a pudding basin wrapped in a large red handkerchief which he stood on the side of the pulpit while taking the morning service. He frequently brought the worshippers attention to it by such remarks as ‘true as I’ve got my dinner wrapped in the handkerchief.’
Another old gentleman, not the best of scholars, when reading the lesson came across a word he was not familiar with. Undeterred he said ‘ Yers a long word yer and I can’t read it so I’ll spell it to you.”
Another telling us of the value of prayer said “Look at Lord Nelson, he prayed before the Battle of Trafalgar.”
When the chapel close down and was sold to a builder it was necessary to clear the gravestones. Number 18 had no rear entrance so the builder agreed to make one provided the stones were stood against the wall. If you walk along Distons Lane they can still be seen today.
The old chapel is now converted into two private dwellings.
NB Thanks to Dennis Lewis for comments from his book Distons Lane, Chipping Norton
Primitive Methodist magazine pages 360-361
Dennis Lewis’ book Distons Lane, Chipping Norton