Bath Westgate Primitive Methodist chapel

Westgate Buildings

Bath Westgate Primitive Methodist chapel at its closure in 1964
reproduced with permission of the publishers from Crofts B (ed) 1990 At Satan's throne, White Tree Press, Bristolprovided by Jeff Parsons

There is an account by W Mottram in the 1866 September Primitive Methodist magazine of the laying of the foundation stone of a new chapel in Bath.

Bath had been missioned in 1828 by W Towler.  A house was bought  in 1845 and part used for worship. Three years later the whole building was converted to a chapel but in time this became too small and unsafe. When congregation and scholars used it they feared for their safety, being in “imminent danger”.

The foundation stone for a new chapel was laid by JW Templer on 30th April 1866.  The celebrations included tea for 500 in the Guildhall. Speakers included S Antliff, WH Dyer, Alderman Hunt, J Bromley, T Brooks and J Huntley.

The opening on November 24th 1866 is described in a further article – see the attached document. It describes the difficulties of growth in a small city full of other denominations and goes into glorious  practical detail:

“It is a commodious, respectable chapel ; it is a model of neatness and simplicity ; its measurement is 49 feet 6 inches, by 46 feet ; it provides accommodation for 400 persons on the ground-floor, and 300 in the galleries ; it has a bold and commanding front age in one of our principal thorough fares ; there is a school-room on the basement floor of the same measurement as the chapel ; there are two good vestries, and the whole building is well drained, lighted, and ventilated. The chapel and school-room are warmed by hot air (Had en’s patent apparatus being employed for that purpose). We have a large boiler holding sixty gallons, for use at tea meetings, and attached to both chapel and school-room we have all necessary offices in convenient order ; the sanitary arrangements of the building are perfect. “

The account has lists of speakers at the opening celebrations and donors, including two on their deathbeds:

“The late Richard Osmond, Esq., one of the most devoted laymen Primitive Methodism has ever numbered, just before his lamented but rapturous decease nobly subscribed £100. A more genuine and large hearted philanthropist than the late Thos . Thompson, Esq., of Prior park, England, has rarely been known. This dear old gentleman thought upon us as he was quietly stepping down to the grave, and sent us £25. “

Ordnance Survey maps show a large Primitive Methodist chapel in Westgate Buildings, towards the junction with Kingsmead Square;  was that it?

Thanks to Jeff Parsons for providing the answer below and the picture of the chapel from At Satan’s throne.

The background story (CH 05/2022)

Thomas Hobson in the 1849 Primitive Methodist magazine tells us a bit more to the chapel that preceded the 1866 chapel.

The society had been using part of the house purchased in 1845 as a chapel.  It held around 150 people, but that was not enough so they converted the whole house, in the process not only taking down the back wall and moving it to the limit of the site, but also adding a gallery. The revised building then held 500 people.

Opening celebrations started on January 28th 1849 and preachers included Revs CT Harris, WA Gilson (Baptist), John Owen (of the Countess of Huntingdon’s chapel),  James Carr, John Rigg, T Hobson, D Wassell and J Bromley.

A substantial tea meeting helped raise about one third of the overall cost.


Primitive Methodist magazine 1849 page 181

Primitive Methodist magazine September 1866 pp. 556-557

Primitive Methodist magazine 1867 pages 308-310


Comments about this page

  • Reference to “At Satan’s Throne-The story of Methodism in Bath” Ed Bruce Crofts, White Tree Books 1990 gives details.
    This shows the Prims meeting at a number of different hired venues, including the Thomas Street Chapel until 1845, when a house in the centre of the city, no 4 Westgate Buildings was purchased for £400.
    This was converted for church use and continued for a number of years but the condition of the property was not good.
    Eventually the site adjoining was purchased for £630 and a new building, designed by J T Irvine was built, the foundation stone being laid by Cllr J W Templar on 30th April 1866. The Chapel opened in November of that year.
    The church was declared free of debt in 1950 but membership had declined and continued to do so. A District Commission said in 1960 that £30,000 needed to be spent to bring the building up to standard.
    The last service was held on 30th August 1964. The property was subsequently sold, the church demolished and the site redeveloped for retail use.

    By Jeff Parsons (17/08/2019)
  • Where was this chapel? Does this account from the Primitive Methodist magazine give us more information about the Thomas Street chapel in Walcot or is it a different chapel in a more central site in the town – perhaps King Street?
    Perhaps we will find out when I reach the account of the chapel opening in a few months’ time!

    By Christopher Hill (25/03/2019)

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