The return from the Primitive Methodist society at Downhead near Frome to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship reports that their preaching place was a dwelling house. The house had been built before 1800 and was big enough to hold 60 people. On Census Sunday 69 people attended. The return was completed by local preacher John Charlton of Nunney, near Frome.
The Primitive Methodist magazine for 1865 tells us about the opening of the chapel at Downhead . The chapel is almost exactly the same design as at nearby Leighton – and built in the same year.
Horace Toogood tells us that the chapel was established by the Lewis family. Lydia Lewis was the first wife of Rev.Thomas Powell.
The chapel has been converted to a house and in 2021 is available as a holiday or short term let.
This is the account:
“Downhead.—To this village our connexion has sent the Word of Life during the last thirty years, and many of the inhabitants have received Christ, and are now living in Him. Our religious services have been conducted in a large roomy cottage, for the use of which the society has felt unfeignedly thankful. But we thought a chapel was a great desideratum.
At length a favourable opportunity presented itself for soliciting of Lord Portman a piece of land, which was, through the kindness of H. Parsons, Esq., (his lordship’s steward) secured. His lordship gave us the choice of the spot, and one of the most central, commanding, and pleasant pieces in the village was selected, on which we have erected a fine connexional chapel.
Doctor Moon, of Leigh-on-Mendip, presented us with a beautiful Bible, for the use of the chapel, and Mrs. Paul Day with one of the largest and best hymn books. Mrs. J. E. Lewis gave the whole of the splendid brass chandelier, and candle-stands ; Mr. J. E. Lewis at his own expense has en closed the chapel and premises with, a good stone wall ; Mrs. Lewis, his mother, presented a beautiful time piece for the use of the chapel, beside that, she, with her son J. E. Lewis, contributed ten pounds each towards the erection, and collected devotedly for the purpose.
The foundation and. opening services were conducted by our esteemed friend J. Parsons, Esq., and an excellent tea meeting was held. We have to record our gratitude to Mr. Green and others for their liberality and kindness, in so willingly assisting us in this undertaking. Mr. T. Ashman, of Leigh, the builder, has in this as in all other contracts given great satisfaction to the trustees and society, by the workmanlike manner in which he has completed the erections. The entire cost of the under taking is £138 15s. 9d., towards which we have raised £92 13s. 9d.”
Primitive Methodist magazine 1865 page 508