Pickering Primitive Methodist chapel

Potter Hill Pickering Yorkshire YO18 8AA

The chapel built by the Primitive Methodists on Potter Hill in Pickering is still in operation in April 2015. Carving on the front proclaims it was opened in 1885.  It was large, accommodating a congregation of 550, with room for 400 in the Sunday school.

Designed by Thomas Howdill, it is relatively ornate in the Italian style, with a gallery that runs round the four sides.  The overall cost was £3,500, including the site and caretaker’s house.

The previous chapel in Bridge Street was sold to the Railway Company, for £1,700.

There are two accounts in the Primitive Methodist magazine, one for 1821 and one for 1822, of the opening of what is probably the first Primitive Methodist chapel in Pickering which opened on Sunday 22nd April 1821. Preachers at the opening were, in the afternoon outdoors Brothers Evans, Essey & Longfield and inside Sister Ansdale whilst in the evening inside it was Sister Ansdale and Brother Lazenby and outside Brother Spavin & Nathaniel West, who wrote both pieces.

It was thought 5000 attended the opening. The chapel was proud to accommodation for high and low, rich and poor.

Neither account gives any detail of where the chapel was.

A further account by Charles Smith describes the enlargement of the chapel in 1859-1860 when a wall behind the pulpit was taken down and a further gallery added to seat an additional 60 people. It was re-opened on Sunday, February 5th 1860, when the Rev. W. Garner of Driffield was the preacher.

In June 2018 the Chapel is still open and very active within the community


Primitive Methodist magazine 1821 page 203

Primitive Methodist magazine 1822 page 127

Primitive Methodist magazine 1860 April page 241


Comments about this page

  • Susan Goodwill tells us that there is a fascinating book by John Smith describing in words and pictures the history of the Methodist Church in Pickering from the preaching of John Wesley in Willowgate to the present day. It is called Methodism in Pickering and available through the Pickering Methodist Church website here.

    By Christopher Hill (20/02/2022)
  • I should have added to my previous comment
    These notes were taken from They Kept Faith by John Rushton, Beck Isle Museum publication

    John Rushton until his death was a local historian who organised the WEA classes and talks in the area.
    John also used to run classes and give talks for the WEA.

    By Pat Donnor (30/03/2020)
  • The first Primitive Methodist Preacher to visit Pickering took his stand on a stone half way up Burgate on the left-hand side, possibly on a market day when the more usual meeting places were crowded.
    The first Primitive Methodist Chapel was opened on the 22nd April 1821 in Bridge St Pickering, the Rev. Jane Ansdale and six other preachers delivering several sermons to crowds spoken of in retrospect as approaching 5,000 people.
    The chapel still stands behind a butcher’s shop, reached by a short passage, but has been adapted to the purposes of a masonic lodge.
    A camp meeting was held in the town on August 19th 1821.
    The second Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1851 on Bridge St Pickering to accommodate a larger congregation. It was sited almost opposite the other and is now a shop. The cost of the building was originally £580. John Jobling was Superintendent. The number of members in the Pickering Society was 129. The chapel was built to accommodate 580, 400 in rented pews and 180 in free seats. A sabbath school was also begun.
    For a time, the society used the buildings on both sides of the street but the old Chapel was eventually let to other religious groups – the New Connexion Methodists, the Baptists, a branch of the Congregationalists, the Swedenborgians, the Salvation Army, the Roman Catholics and today the Freemasons. This has helped groups survive as churches that would have found it difficult, at the time, to build for themselves.
    There was a strong revival throughout the Pickering circuit in the sixties. This bought a lot of boys into the church who were later the “strong men of the circuit,” including Mr John Frank. The revival was followed by a wave of Chapel building. In October 1869, the Primitive Methodist Magazine records missionary services started at the four main places in the Pickering circuit, with “large sympathetic audiences”. Pickering raised £38. 8. 0., Kirbymoorside £15. 7. 8., Thornton Dale £10. 8. 0. and Cropton £8. 10. 0., total over £73.
    The third Primitive Methodist Chapel was built during 1884 -1885 on Potter Hill in Pickering for £3,400, to hold 650 -700 people etc. The great moving force behind its construction was John Frank J.P. The old chapel was then sold to the railway company for £1700.

    By Pat Donnor (30/03/2020)

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