7. Where is the House that Ye Build unto Me?

Transcription of article published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by H Bickerstaffe Kendall in the series “One Hundred Years Ago”

WHEREVER there was anything being done, or to be done, there, sooner rather than later, Hugh Bourne was sure to be met with. So in July, 1813, we see him moving about, busy as ever, among those Derbyshire villages and townships we have so often referred to. A handy entry in his “Journal” acts as a time-machine and whisks us back a hundred years, and we find ourselves in Rowland Kirkland’s cottage at Mercaston. It is the house of mourning, for small-pox, a scourge which the advance of medical science has well-nigh stayed, has lately been at its fell work: “July 14th: At Mercaston. Since I was there last Rowland Kirkland has died, and his two sons, of the small-pox. . . . They were all three buried in about a fortnight. Sarah Kirkland thought that the youngest had obtained mercy. The other was brought into liberty by Mary Hawksley and died happy. The old man has been a steady pilgrim a long time. He died proclaiming ‘Victory’ to the last. His death has made a stop in building the chapel at Mercaston. How it will be now is not yet known.’’

The words we have italicised may serve to remind us that the brick-and-mortar side of church activity, which bulks so large in these days, has had little mention in these Jottings of the past; and that, for a very good reason—there was as yet little activity to speak of being put forth in this direction. The chapel schedules of that time needed not to be any larger than a modern post-card. To put the matter in that way, however, involves a double anachronism; for there were then no chapel schedules and there were no postcards. Tunstall had its chapel opened in 1811, and there was a little chapel at Boylestone which had the simple date 1811 on its front. The society here had been one of those which Mrs. Dunnell had alienated; but it had come on the plan again in 1812. These were the only chapels as yet in use; before 1813 is ended two more will be built—Rocester and Talke.

Rocester, at the lower end of the Churnet valley, was visited by Hugh Bourne and Mrs. Dunnell, March 13th, 1811. A small society was formed which had to struggle for existence against vexatious opposition, secretly fomented by sectarian jealousy. A pious young woman, Hannah Woodward, was the Saviour of the society. She braved dismissal by the cotton magnate of the place, and was used in the conversion of one of the daughters of the Mace family with whom she lodged. No less than three Maces have their names on the Ramsor branch plan of 1822. In the “History” will be found a facsimile of the deed of the Rocester chapel which was executed on July 16th, 1813, as well as the signatures of the trustees. As these were men who did good service to early Primitive Methodism, let their names be given:— James Bourne, Thomas Horobin, John Critchlow, William Clowes, Francis Horobin, James Horobin, Thomas Mace, and Hugh Bourne. This Rocester deed is perhaps the first example of a deed which vests a chapel in duly appointed trustees:

Talke chapel, said to have been built at the expense of Hugh Bourne, stood on the site of the present school. In the “History” there is given an almost pathetic picture of three superannuated and sadly crippled forms which were made by Hugh Bourne, who still on needful occasion plied his tools. These venerable forms, we believe, are still preserved as relics in the Talke School.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913/508

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