Bridlington Circuit

chapels of the Bridlington circuit
Christian Messenger 1910/90

Transcription of article in the Christian Messenger by Rev. Nadin Jefferson

Bridlington, or, as some of the older residents call it, Burlington, is situated on the east coast, between Scarborough and Hull. It not only bears two names, but also has three parts, viz.- Old Town, The Quay, and Hilderthorpe. In the Old Town is the large and beautiful parish church of St. Mary, which is a large remnant of an old Augustinian Priory built in the 12th century. Its last Prior was executed in 1537 for taking part in ” The Pilgrimage of Grace.” Leading to the church is an old gateway over which is a large chamber which is used as a Town Hall. The Quay, as its name would indicate, is situated on the beach of what is probably the largest and most beautiful bay of the east coast.

No expense has been spared by the corporation in their desire to make Bridlington Quay a most beautiful resort for those who seek either pleasure or recuperation of health by a visit to the sea-side.

The Prince’s Parade is a lovely place, with its gardens, and its two fine pavilions named respectively “The Grand” and “The Floral.”

On the south side of the town – in Hilderthorpe – the Spa vies with the Prince’s parade in catering for the public enjoyment. So that Bridlington ministers in a lavish manner for the entertainment, of its visitors: and our readers who have not seen it would do well to spend a holiday here. Its normal population is about 13,000, which is quite doubled during “the season.” The town was first missioned by the Primitive Methodists from Driffield Circuit in 1819 by the Rev. J. Coulson. Success so far attended these early efforts that notwithstanding persistent persecution, when in 1821 the Rev. W. Clowes came to preach he found a society of fifty members.

The first chapel was built in 1834 and the society was highly favoured by having the Rev. W. Clowes at its opening services. In 1848 a gallery was inserted which made it capable of seating 300 persons. In 1859 Bridlington was divided off from Driffiled Circuit, and made into an independent Circuit. The Old Town church continued to grow so that by the year 1877 it became necessary to build again, hence a new, a beautiful and more commodious chapel was built at a cost of over £3,000. The members have never been wealthy, but they have been devoted, earnest, plodding and self-sacrificing to a great degree; so much so, that their debt has been reduced until it is now only £850 which sum includes the purchase of two cottages adjoining, for the purpose of erecting new school rooms in the near future. The Quay presents an illustration of remarkable development. Its first chapel was very small, its congregations small, its collections small – in fact everything was small except the loyalty, energy and devotion of its members. The first chapel, which was situated on the cliff, would seat 300 persons. But such was the evangelical fervour of the society, and such the success which attended their efforts that a new and larger chapel became necessary. This necessity was supplied in 1870. In nine years this too became too small and a third chapel, which is the present large and beautiful structure, was erected at a cost of £3,500. For a long time the society felt the burdensomeness of a heavy debt, yet they struggled heroically with it and reduced it from year to year until it stood at £1,100. Its school room and class rooms are unfortunately under the chapel and are altogether inadequate for the work amongst the children. Hence a few years ago, some property with a large yard, at the rear of the chapel was purchased at a cost of over £1,000. This amount also in the intervening years has been raised, and we are now nearly ready to arise and build new school room premises.

The society is a very hearty and zealous one. They maintain to a very great extent traditional faith and fervour. They believe in and aim at conversions, though alas! we find it difficult to secure them. They believe in fellowship. Its class meetings and band meetings are well sustained and enjoyed. Bridlington being a sea-side resort, it is practically impossible for our members to get to worship “in the season,“ they are too busy catering for visitors at their homes. This has a great tendency to deplete the spiritual life of the church. The visitors however fill the vacancies during public worship, and help very materially to replenish the finances of the trust and society. Special preachers are engaged, and it is an inspiring sight to see the commodious chapel filled with reverent worshippers. In addition to the two town churches, we have eight country societies of varying strength. Flamboro’ is the largest. It is a fishing village. Its headland, whilst constituting a most dangerous place for the ships in foggy weather, is a most romantic and delightful place for visitors. Caves there are in the cliffs which have about them the weird associations of the old-time smugglers. Many people come here for their summer holidays, and find it most bracing and entertaining. It is within easy reach of Filey on the north and Bridlington on the south. Unfortunately the peacefulness of the Sabbath day is completely destroyed “in the season,” because of the scores, not to state hundreds of vehicles, char-a-bancs motor busses, landaus and wagonettes, which run into the place with their freights of sightseers. This is deplored by the Christian public, but appears to be inevitable. We have a good chapel, and a working society of over seventy members. The Flamborian is difficult to move; but can be stirred, and deeply too, as witness the tragic event of last February when six poor fishermen lost their lives, some of them connected with our church and Sunday school. A sombreness like a pall was over the place for a long time, and some felt seriously after God.

The other villages, North Burton, Thuring, Rudston, Thornholme, Haisthorpe, Bempton and Sewerby  are agricultural places, and therefore partake of common characteristics. We minister them principally to the labouring men and their families. There is a cleanness and wholesomeness about them which is truly delightful. The preachers are entertained with a generous hospitality, and the visits of the ministers are looked for with great pleasure. Some of the societies are, of course, more vigorous than others in spiritual life and effort. North Burton chapel is new. Thornholme and Haisthorpe both stand on the road-side on vacant land. There is a peculiarity about Sewerby which does not often obtain, if it is not unique, viz., we worship in the Wesleyan chapel and pay a rent for the use of it, alternating our services with theirs; and our society and congregation are larger than the Wesleyans. It is very good of our sister church to let us have the use of their sanctuary. Previously we worshipped in a cottage.

This Circuit has been a fruitful soil for raising ministers. It has sent out no fewer than thirteen into the ranks – men who are doing yeoman service for God and the Church.

It would be unpardonable to write about Bridlington Circuit and not make any record of its G.O.M. the Rev. H. Woodcock. When he superannuated fifteen years ago he came to this his native town to live; and all through the intervening years he has rendered ungrudging and multitudiness service to the Circuit. On one of the “rounds” of preaching, he regularly takes village service along with the ministers once a fortnight. Besides this he, takes some Sunday work every quarter. He is revered and honoured not only by his own church, but by the whole townspeople. He is now eighty years old and still likes to preach, and the people like to hear him.

Last year the Rev. F.E. Heape came to reside amongst us on superannuating. He, too, is rendering willing and valuable service. He is more in demand than he feels able to supply. His former services in this Circuit are not only not forgotten, but are remembered with great appreciation and gratitude.

We purposely leave out the mention of names of worthy laymen who have rendered invaluable service to our cause, because there are so many of them, past and present, that all could not be acknowledged, while to mention a few would be invidious. May the Circuit advance in both numbers, purity and power!

Amid the new conditions our church will require initiative, liberality and devotion; but with abounding spiritual life these will be forthcoming. Discerning the methods demanded by the new time she will adapt herself to the age, while maintaining the spirit of the past. Worthy as has been the past we anticipate a grander future. With greater resources there should be greater achievements.


Christian Messenger 1910/90


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