Radstock Primitive Methodist chapel

Frome Hill

Radstock: return from the Primitive Methodist chapel to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship. Return no: 325 4 5 20
transcribed by David Tonks 2021
Frome Road, Radstock showing the former Primitive Methodist chapel.
from a postcard provided by June Swift

The 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship contains a return from a Primitive Methodist chapel in Radstock.  It says the chapel opened in 1844 and accommodated 200 people. On Census Sunday, 200 people attended in the evening and 60 in the morning..  There was also a Sunday school with typically 122 scholars attending.

The return was completed by William Leaker, the minister, of Fosse Way Buildings.

The Primitive Methodist magazine in 1851 and 1852 contains accounts both by the same William Leaker of the laying of the foundation stone  and subsequent opening of what he then calls the first Primitive Methodist chapel in Radstock. Radstock was first missioned around 1825, and “the missionaries met with much persecution until brother George James opened his house for preaching” Later a room was rented. Despite further enlargement, it was not large enough, so land in a “very good situation” was leased from the Countess of Waldegrave on a 99 year lease at a shilling a year.

The November 1851 magazine describes the foundation stone ceremony.  It was held on September 10th 1851 and the stone was laid by Rev T Hobson of Bath.  “The evening was fine, the attendance large, and the collection £3/6/9.”

The chapel was planned to be 37′ x 27′ and 22′ high.  It had a slate roof, a board floor and “a good gallery five seats deep.” There would also be built a preacher’s house, “an ornament to the village”.

John Parfillt, the Countess’ steward, gave the stones for the building and Charles Ashman, the Countess’ agent for the coal works, gave “most of the lime and all the small coal to mix the mortar.”  There was much self building: all the stones were quarried by members and friends; farmers carried the materials freely.

The opening, described in the April magazine, took place on January 4th 1852. Rev Hobson preached further sermons and a week later more sermons from Rev R Hartley of Chippenham. The subsequent tea meeting, chaired by Francis Skerry was addressed by Rev J Preston, (Frome), N Pascoe and W Leaker.

At the time of opening, £300 of the total cost of £500 was owing.  It was borrowed “at 4% on notes of hand”.  The article says that the golden system was used to raise further funds – how did that work?.

The articles do not say exactly where the chapel was.  The 1886 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey map locates the Primitive Methodist chapel at the gas works just north of the junction of Coomb End with New Bath Road. On the 1903-4 map it is labelled Wesleyan. I asked “Can anyone explain?” – and see the comments below which identified it as being on Frome Hill.   It still doesn’t explain the change on the Ordnance Survey maps of the  Coomb End chapel from Prim to Wesleyan.  Thanks to June Swift for providing a picture.


Primitive Methodist magazine November 1851 pp. 698-699

Primitive Methodist magazine April 1852 pp. 246-247

Comments about this page

  • Thanks to June Swift for the information that the Prims first met around 1825 in George James home in Waterloo Road. In 1846 the first Primitive Chapel was built on Frome Hill. It was replaced in 1902 with the old chapel then used as a Sunday School room.

    By Christopher Hill (07/03/2022)
  • My father in law was married there in 1926 I have a copy of one if you would like it, its an old postcard.

    By J Swift (27/02/2022)
  • Thanks for the additional information Jeff and the list of other local Prim chapels. It would be good to add a separate page for each one, together with a picture where possible.

    By Christopher Hill (18/08/2019)
  • The church was sited in Frome Road Radstock in 1851 after a number of locations had been used in the town.Subsequently the church was too small and a new one was built on an adjoining piece of land, the original church then being used as a church hall.
    The new church was opened in 1902, the same year as the new Wesleyan Church in Fortescue Road.
    The Architect was W J Willcox MRIBA of Bath and the cost about £2800.
    The church closed and was demolished in the 1970s and the site developed for housing.
    I too was puzzled about the OS Sheet showing a Prim Methodist Church in Coombe End around the site of the original Wesleyan Chapel (subsequently sold and used for a variety of purposes, including The Palace Cinema, and now a carpet shop.)
    The Free Church mentioned was in Wells Hill, known as Ebeneezer and also since demolished for housing.
    Of interest perhaps; in this coal mining community there were at least 8 Prim Chapels
    Midsomer Norton Stones Cross (now Salvation Army)
    Welton (now converted to housing)
    Midsomer Norton Redfield Road (demolished 1996 now housing)
    Westfield – still open
    Frome Hill Radstock now demolished for housing
    Clandown Springfield converted to flats
    Writhlington now converted to a house (relocated from a Tin Tabernacle at Green Parlour)
    Paulton Newtown converted to house

    By Jeff Parsons (16/08/2019)
  • I’ve just come across this article about Radstock Methodist Chapel 

    I’ve looked the location up, its on the west side of the modern Coomb End road, and is shown on the 25″ First Edition Ordnance Survey map (1866) as the Primitive Methodist Chapel http://maps.nls.uk//view/122161292

    Its strange that the next edition of the map (1904) marks the chapel as Wesleyan – but I wonder if the answer is connected to the fact that further south (on what is now Wells Road) there is a building marked in 1866 as a ‘Meth F Chap’ (presumably meaning Methodist Free Chapel (?) and on the 1904 map as a Methodist Free Church.


    By Hannah Tweedie (17/01/2018)
  • Thanks very much for these two links Kathy. Peasedown and Writhlington are both former coal-mining villages and Radstock was the local centre which served them, for example as a focus for the railway network. It’s good to see the Primitive Methodist stone labels on both surviving chapels and they both need to be added as separate pages to this site.

    But we still don’t know where the chapel in Radstock itself was!

    By Christopher Hill (28/04/2017)
  • Think you wil find this is the Radstock Primitive Methodist church at Peasedown St. John.-taken from google maps. It was part of my gt grandfather Rev Isaac Brentnalls circuit I believe when he was at Midsomer Norton. Sorry unable to post picture as not able to copy to here


    By Kathy Anstiss (27/04/2017)
  • Further to my previous comment google has this as Radstock Primitive Methodist church still part of Isaac’s circuit – now sadly up for sale. 


    By Kathy Anstiss (27/04/2017)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *