Leighton Primitive Methodist chapel

Wanstrow, Frome BA11 4PN

Leighton Primitive Methodist chapel across the farm yard
Christopher Hill August 2021
Leighton Primitive Methodist chapel from road
Christopher Hill August 2021
Leighton Primitive Methodist chapel 1863 datestone
Christopher Hill August 2021
Leighton Primitive Methodist chapel

There is an account  by E Powell of the laying of the foundation stone for Leighton Primitive Methodist chapel in the October 1863 edition of the Primitive Methodist magazine. It tells of the opposition from the established church to the building of chapels by groups of non-conformists such as the Primitive Methodists and the strength of character of those who helped.

Two years later there is a follow up article about the opening, one of several new chapels in the circuit..

On the 1886 map a Primitive Methodist chapel is clearly shown in the hamlet and is still marked as a Methodist chapel on the 1960-61 map.

On Street View in 2017 the building still exists and is marked as Gospel Chapel. In 2021 a site visit shows it apparently unused and, unusually, within the farm yard of Chapel farm.

The chapel is almost exactly the same design as at nearby Downhead – and built in the same year.

Here are the accounts:

The stone laying:

Leighton, Frome Circuit—Foundation Laying. — Leighton is a small hamlet about six miles from Frome. Several years ago the Baptist friends had a small cause in the place which struggled amidst much opposition, until the little chapel, which was erected on lifehold property, fell in hand, and then they had to give up the services.

Our friends and the Wesleyans occasionally preached in the open air, but no hold was taken of the place, and for many years spiritual darkness and barrenness reigned in it. In the early part of 1862, the Lord poured out his Spirit on Wanstrow, and many souls were saved. Some from Leighton were induced to attend the services at Wanstrow, and were awakened. Soon they requested that service should be held in the hamlet, and Brother S. Whiting, one of our zealous local preachers, attended and preached the word of life to them, and a number were converted and formed themselves into a society.

The quarterly meeting put the place on the plan, and appointed them preachers every Sabbath, and once a fortnight on the week evenings. The house in which the services were conducted being too small, and very cold in the winter, efforts were made to obtain a piece of land on which to erect a Connexional chapel. As nearly all the land in and around the place belongs to the vicar of Mells, a Puseyite and an enemy of dissent, little hopes were entertained that we should succeed.

However, one of Mr. Isaac Giles’ sons having been converted, and his father having united with us in Church fellowship, our superintendent preacher went to Bath to see Mr. Giles’ landlord—a pious church man—to solicit a piece of land for the purpose. Mr. Little, the landlord, very cordially agreed to lease us a piece for ninety-nine years. As soon as it was known that there was a probability of there being a chapel in the place, the vicar of the parish visited the families, and endeavoured by threats and promises to turn them against the Society, and then published a pamphlet against us, and earnestly exhorted “his flock” not to hear men unordained by a “Bishop of the Church.” The vicar of Mells wrote four letters to Mr. Little of Bath, to persuade him to take the land away from us, but he did not succeed.

On May 11th, arrangements had been made to lay the foundation-stone of the chapel. The friends assembled, but such was the state of the weather that it was impossible to proceed with the ceremony. We met again on the 15th, and the ceremony of laying the stone was performed by Mr. Shore, (Wesleyan) assisted by Brother Whiting. Mr. Shore stood on the stone, and delivered a short address, protesting against all attempts to rob Englishmen of their birth-right, liberty to worship God when and where they please, without molestation or hindrance.

A document was then read by the superintendent of the circuit, stating the particulars of the establishment of the cause in the place, the number of members in the society, the names of the trustees, circuit preachers, the contractor’s name, and the amount of the contract, together with the date on which the stone was laid—which document was placed in a cavity of the stone. A sermon was then preached by Mr. Powell, and a liberal collection made. A tea-meeting was afterwards held in a shed adjoining, at which about seventy sat down. A public meeting was held after the tea, at which a good sum was promised towards the undertaking. E. Powell.

The opening

Leighton.—This village was missioned in the summer of 1862, and a society formed. When winter came a house was secured, in which to conduct religious services, but it was inconveniently small, and being in a poor state of repair was very cold. Arrangements were made to build a chapel, land was secured, and amidst much opposition the house of God was erected.

The opening services were conducted and sermons preached by J. Parsons, Esq. , and J. Harding, Esq., Wesleyans, and our superintendent preacher. The entire cost of the undertaking is £101, towards which we have raised £44 6s. 8d. The congregations are favourable, and most of the seats are let. The society is walking in the comforts of the Holy Ghost. Already out of our little society, gathered amidst much persecution, four members have died rejoicing in Christ their Saviour.”


Primitive Methodist magazine 1863 page 628

Primitive Methodist magazine 1865 page 509

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