Beverley Circuit, Yorkshire
Transcription of Article in the Christian Messenger by Rev J.H. Dixon
The town of Beverley is one of the most ancient in Yorkshire. The historical and legendary associations of the place take us a long way back into the early centuries of the Christian era, and afford a wide field to the historian and antiquarian for investigation and research. Philologists are not agreed on the derivation of the name Beverley. It is supposed by some to have been derived from its original contiguity to a lake on the banks of which beavers abounded, and was called Beaver’s Lake; the lake and its inhabitants have long disappeared; but their existence is perpetuated in the name Beverley.
Beverley was honoured by no fewer than fourteen visits of the distinguished founder of Methodism – John Wesley. In the early twenties of the last century came that flaming evangelist, William Clowes and others of our early ministers. “A dancing-room in Turner’s Yard” was secured in which to conduct the services, and there a Primitive Methodist Society was formed. Many were the triumphs won in this place, and the chair on which many of those early preachers stood to proclaim the gospel is still preserved as a precious relic of bye-gone times. It now stands inside the communion-rail of the head Church of the Circuit.
Up to the year 1895, Beverley formed part of the Hull 1st Circuit, the third minister residing in the town. It was then formed into a circuit including Beverley with two churches and five country places, namely: Walkington, Cherry Burton, Bentley, Weel and Aike. The Rev. R. W. Keightley was its first Superintendent.
Wednesday Market Church carries us back to, the year 1825, when the first chapel was, built. Those were great days, marked by crowded congregations and numerous conversions. Stalwarts such as Messrs. Jenkinson, Clarke, Edmondson, Rudd, Dewson, and M. Denton, rendered yeoman service, and their names are still fragrant in the memories of some who are remaining to us.
The present church was erected in 1868. The site is a commanding one, in close proximity to the famous and beautiful Beverley Minster. This has proved no bar to its progress, for we have today a vigorous society, evangelical in spirit and outlook and well sustaining the traditions of the past. The building is an imposing structure with seating accommodation for 800, and it is an inspiration to the preacher to see the large and attentive congregations which gather at the Sunday services. Essentially “a working-man’s church,” there is present in all its activities a fine spirit of brotherhood and true comradeship.
In the year 1904, an additional piece, of ground was secured behind the church, and a splendid suite of rooms, comprising Institute, and extra Schoolroom, with Class-rooms were erected. The school has fluctuated in numbers, but to-day is vigorous and thriving, having as its leaders a fine stamp of earnest and consecrated men. T. Danby (who joined the army), G. Glister, and E. Annikin are rendering noble service in this department of the church‘s life, supported by a splendid band of teachers. There has just been presented to this school an enlarged photograph of the late Joseph Sellers, who, for a long period, was Superintendent. A man of strong personality, he wielded a powerful influence over the young life of Wednesday Market, and many to-day, in the trenches, and scattered over various parts of our Island, feel they owe much to his magnificent devotion and consecration. Up to the last be retained his interest in the school and his “passing’ was felt to be a great loss to the church. His son, G.D. Sellers, still serves as Secretary to the school, and also as Local Preacher, is doing good service. Others whose names need mentioning here are: T. Owen, Treasurer to the School, and W. Glister, “our grand old man,” with a record of School Work and Class Leadership difficult to beat. Frail in health, the latter still attends the services, and finds his highest joy in fellowship with the brethren.
This school has given to our ministry the Revs. J.H. Johnson, G. Meadley, and W.H. Richardson.
In the life of the Society special mention needs to be made of the splendid devotion of the Meadley family, the late T.S. Meadley being for many years Circuit Steward; also J.H. Johnson, ex-Circuit Steward, and still leader of his class, a man ever at his post, H. Gray, now Society Steward, son of the late N. Gray, whose name is still fragrant; T. Marson, W. Verity and Miss Scarr. These and others form a “goodly band.” James Constable has entered upon another term of office as Circuit Steward, and in spite of physical disabilities, yet retains his former interest in the welfare of the church and circuit, and faithfully serves in that important office.
Norwood Society takes us back to 1882, when a Mission Chapel was built. The Society prospered, and in 1901 a new church was erected to seat 250, the old one being retained as a Sunday-school. This Society owes much to the powerful ministry of the Rev. W. Swales, who was then on his probation at Beverley. To-day we have a good cause and a splendid school. The latter is superintended by H. Hodge, son of the late H. Hodge, whose princely gifts to Hull Primitive Methodism are known to many. Mr. Hodge has sole charge of the Norwood School, has initiated a Primary Department and has the joy of seeing the accommodation taxed to its utmost. He has rendered magnificent service to the circuit in official positions, and by his gifts – a beautiful pipe organ in this church being a continual reminder – but his best and most-loved work is amongst the young, and here he has given himself unstintedly. He is ably supported by an earnest band of teachers, W. Armstrong, Councillor Fox, W. Scott and others. The church is situated in a growing neighbourhood and ought to have a promising future.
At Walkington, some three miles from Beverley, our cause is strong. The Chapel was built in 1879, to seat 150, and the Society formed soon had it clear of debt. Linked up with this cause are the names of the late J. Carter and R. Brabbs. Both have passed to their reward in recent years, but their work is not forgotten. While the cause has ebbed and flowed, owing chiefly to removals, it is a pleasure to-day to record that Walkington is at its best. The chapel is regularly filled, and with a splendid choir of young people, led by Mr. Boynton, the Organist, the services are of the heartiest character. G. Hayton, Miss Smith, and Mrs. Ridsdale are bravely toiling in this part of the Master’s vineyard and the results are most cheering. To this cause has lately been added the names of Mr. Barmby and family, late of Williamson Street. Hull, and they have proved a splendid acquisition.
Cherry Burton has the longest history of any of the country chapels on the circuit. The chapel was built in the year 1851. For a long period the influence of the parson and the squire told heavily against this Society, but of late years this has steadily declined. For many years the Society was splendidly led by the late J. Robson, an able Local Preacher and a man of fine personality. His daughter, Mrs. Gray, has for many years acted in the position of organist. G. Greenlaw and family stood nobly by the guns during years of great discouragement, while G. Dowson, now one of the most acceptable locals on the circuit, has proved a tower of strength to Primitive Methodism in this lovely village. Cherry Burton has seen trying days, but now “the fields are white,” as seen in larger congregations and best of all in conversions.
Bentley Society for many years worshipped in the farm kitchen of the late Mr. Drury. Many and wonderful were the happenings in those cottage meetings. The accommodation was of course limited, and the preachers perspired as they took their stand near to the roaring fire of a winter’s night. But the cause grew, and in the year 1895 a site was secured from the M.P. of the division, and a beautiful little chapel was erected. Owing, however, to migrations, this Society has suffered heavily, and to-day the effects are being keenly felt. The Drury family have had to remove to other spheres, but Hanson, Whiting, and Ashby form a faithful trio, and they are not without hope of better days in store. This chapel, along with Cherry Burton and Weel, have lately been completely renovated by the past-Superintendent Minister’s own hands.
At Weel we have a small cause. Lately this Society has suffered through the removal of the Lount family. Miss Lount for many years served as Organist and Missionary Collector. Mrs. Dunn and Atkinson, two loyal souls, whose hearts are in the right place, nobly teach the young and “carry on” in spite of depressing conditions. The same applies to Aike (or Yak-abak o’ Arram) as it is locally called. Here we have a wooden building. The cause is small, and being difficult for situation, we find it almost impossible to “supply” in these days. Mr. and Mrs. Norris, however, loyally support and actively keep the Society going, assisted by G. Landamore.
It is not easy to prophesy concerning the future of this circuit. Being most agricultural there is no promise of large expansion. As it is, Primitive Methodism is playing a strong part in this ancient town and under wise leadership we hope that “the best is yet to be.”
Christian Messenger 1919/9