Methodist chapels

Portland Street Wesleyan Chapel

portland_street_wesleyan_02This was the original purpose built home of Methodism in Leamington. ‘The earliest Leamington Methodists went over to Warwick to worship’, by 1817 William Scott and his wife had founded a place of worship in ‘Barnacle’s Yard, Satchwell St., they later moved to Brunswick St. The next move was to purchase a site known as Quarry Field on which they built the Portland St. Chapel, which they opened in 1825. It was extended twice in 1835 and 1846, and in 1839 the building was extended through into Windsor St. to provide space for a school.

portland_street_wesleyan_01By the late 1860s it was decided that a larger site was needed for a new chapel, so the original building was turned into a school and a new bigger and better chapel was built on Dale St. The original chapel later became a wholesale grocers and then an electrical wholesalers, its latest use is for housing, which has restored some of its glory, mainly by removing the steel roller shutter that blighted its warehouse aspect.

Dale Street Methodist Chapel

dale_street_chapel_02This was the replacement for the Portland St. Chapel and was called ‘a vast Victorian Monument to Methodism’. The elaborate, decorated Victorian edifice eventually became too expensive to maintain.

By the 1970s the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Warwick St. was suffering similar problems of high maintenance costs coupled with declining congregations.

dale_street_chapel_01The two chapels decided to unite on the Dale St. site and use the funds from the Warwick St, site to build a new facility, with a chapel and meeting rooms.

Wesleyan Reform Chapel

wesleyan_reform_chapelThis chapel is further along Clarendon St. from the Clarendon Street Chapel and owes its presence to ‘disputes within Wesleyan Methodism in 1849′. The actual date of the building seems to have been from around 1852, as previous to that date the address is listed as belonging to a paperhanger and a dressmaker, occupations too grand for the present building. By 1863 the building seems to have become the home of a Mr. Miles, which would seem to agree with the claim that the Wesleyan Reformers ‘at Leamington joined the United Methodist Free Churches in 1860.’

The building became a rather grand house with a succession of owners, followed by a time as a small hotel, then an old people’s home, next it was used as offices by the National Health Service and finally prestige offices, which it is up to the present.

Trinity Methodist Chapel

trinity_methodist_churchThis chapel is south of the river on the old main road through Leamington. It seems to have its roots in Althorpe St., this was supplemented in 1871 by the Court St. school house. This building was intended as a school, but seems to have eventually replaced the Althorpe St. Chapel. The success of the Court St. services led to a demand for a Methodist Chapel south of the river. Mrs. Holy offered £3,000 for a new chapel on the condition that the Circuit Trust cleared its debts. The final cost of manse and site came to some £4,568 and Mrs Holy gave £5,000 to cover the total bill.

Apart from a church hall that has been built adjacent to the church and a vestibule added to the front of the building, the chapel is much as built. Apart from problems with the steeple which had to be lowered for safety reasons. It is suggested that Mrs. Holy stipulated that the steeple should be visible from the railway, which may have been the source of the problems, whether this is still visible after the shortening is not known.

The Court St. Chapel\school room was apparently used by the military during W.W.II, and became known by local children as the ‘Belgiums’. The building suffered somewhat in the process. It was superseded as parish rooms by a development on the Trinity site and lately has been a tyre depot, but is now empty.

Ebenezer Primitive Methodist Chapel

primitive_methodist_chapel_02This was the other major chapel south of the river, also on the High St. The site was originally intended for one of the Rev. Craig’s enterprises. His idea was to build a ‘Poor Man’s Church’ and the foundation stone was laid in Sept. 1849, with a donation of £500 from Dr. Warneford. By 1855, with no work apparent, Dr. Warneford sued for the return of his money, but in fact the site had been sold to the Primitive Methodists. This version of events is however contradicted by another historian who claimed that the Primitive Methodists had bought Bissett’s Museum, removed the floors and converted it into a chapel.

primitive_methodist_chapel_01The Primitive Methodist Circuit Minutes states that on March 13th. 1850 that the ‘Leamington friends be allowed to build a chapel’. On January 10th. 1851 the minutes record that the Clemens St. Chapel furniture was bought for £12. Curiously no mention is made of how the building was acquired or built. The chapel opened in 1852 and continued in use until the Primitive Methodists moved into an empty chapel at 120 Warwick St. The High St. Chapel has in recent times been a second-hand car showroom and now is a tool hire shop.

United Methodists Free Church

This was sited at 118\120 Warwick St. and was built on the site of two houses, which were demolished to make room for the chapel. It was opened Sept. 1864 at a cost of £1,000, with the site costing £1,200. It was described as being ‘plain Grecian’ and claimed to seat 500.

The Primitive Methodists used the building from 1921 until 1972 when they sold the site, and used the funds to help rebuild the Dale St. building. The chapel was demolished to make way for offices, which then became a shop and office complex.

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