Startley Primitive Methodist chapel

SN15 5HG

Startley Primitive Methodist chapel, Great Somerford
Colin Fry July 2020
Jubilee extension at Startley Primitive Methodist chapel
Colin Fry July 2020
figure on school end of Startley Primitive Methodist chapel
Colin Fry July 2020
Date plaques on Startley Primitive Methodist chapel and schoolroom
Judith Verity 2021
Return from Startley Primitive Methodist chapel in the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious Worship
Provided by David Tonks

The 1851 Census of places of Public Religious Worship contains an entry for Startley Great Somerford saying that the society met in a chapel built around 1820.  The return is signed with the mark X of Thomas Knapp, local preacher.

The Primitive Methodist magazine for October 1854 contains an account by Samuel Turner of the laying of the foundation stone of Startley Primitive Methodist chapel in the Brinkworth Circuit.

The ceremony was held on Thursday August 17th 1854 and the stone was laid by J Beak Esq.. Sermons were preached by Rev J Richards, Rev B Rees (Independent) and Messrs. Heath, Mills Turner and Dobinson.

And of course there was a tea, in this case for 200 people, provided by Miss Knapp and Mr Curtis.

The account of the opening is in the November 1854 magazine on Thursday October 12th 1854.  Preachers in the afternoon and evening included Rev B Rees, Rev J Richards, and Messrs Whitmore, Heath, Turner and Mills.  The tea this time was for 160 people. On the following Sunday, Rev W Driffield and Rev M Heath preached the sermons.  The congregations “were large and respectable” although there was no tea.

On May 14th 1860,  a sermon was preached by Mr. J. Causer, of Chippenham, after which Mr. John Hitchcock laid the foundation stone of a new schoolroom. This time tea was provided and 100 people were fed. A public meeting was held in the evening presided over by T Powell and addresses were delivered by Messrs. Stokes (Independent), Ash (Baptist), Smith and Causer (Primitives).

The chapel is still in existence in August 2016 although its use is not clear. Over the door is the inscription “Primitive Methodist chapel” and a date; on Street View I can read the numbers 185 but the extra numeral is unclear. On the northern wall there is a small extension which includes the inscribed stone “Jubilee 1860” – presumably the schoolroom.

Opposite the chapel is a small cemetery.

Thanks to Colin Fry and Judith Verity for the photographs.


Primitive Methodist magazine October 1854 p. 617

Primitive Methodist magazine November 1854 p. 746

Primitive Methodist magazine August 1860 p. 502

Comments about this page

  • Many fond memories as a child, helping my Nan ( Dorothy Compton) tidy up after services. Also playing along the Isles. Both my grandparents are buried across the road.

    By Mark Compton (01/07/2023)
  • Thanks for the update Judith. And it does raise a poser – how to reconcile the corrected date on the plaque with the 1854 date of the magazine article. I have no idea!

    By Christopher Hill (20/03/2021)
  • The date on the plaque above the porch reads “1834” The “3” sometimes confused with a “5”.
    The extension dated 1860 was built as a schoolroom for the Methodist children from Great Somerford who could walk along the lane opposite the double doors (now slightly diverted around the opposite house) that runs directly to and fro Great Somerford. There are boot-scrapers built into the iron railings either side of the gate.
    We bought the Chapel from the Methodist Church in 1986 as a sculpture studio. We installed a piece of railway line with a bogie to carry large pieces of stone inside.
    In 1995 I had the chapel converted to studio and living space. Keeping as much of the original dado, timber lining and fenestration as possible. From here I ran a stone business; employing a local stone carver in a nearby workshop; until I closed it in 2020. The little carving of St. Francis with his wolf is a copy for one carved by Rory Young, in a niche on Minchinhampton Church.

    By Judith Verity (20/03/2021)
  • Startley was one of the villages to which my uncle, Howard Hill, regularly cycled in order to preach. It involved a round trip of 40 miles from Stratton St Margaret and he was still doing it in the 1960s when he was in his 60s. And when he got home on the Sunday evening, he would go and milk his cows. Was it this chapel?

    I’ve added detail of the stone laying for the new schoolroom in 1860.

    By Christopher Hill (01/02/2018)

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