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Methodists in Bromham

Kerry House - 15 The Green March 2012
Kerry House - 15 The Green March 2012

Sadly, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records service has few records relating to Methodism in Bromham. The first mention of Methodism in Bromham comes in 1817 with the first steward's accounts for the Bedford Wesleyan Circuit [MB12].

Berry Farmhouse May 2012
Berry Farmhouse May 2012

A scrapbook put together by the Women's Institute [X535/3] states: "There is a record, in a document written by Joseph Staines of Berry Farm, that there were Meetings with visiting preachers in the farmhouse in 1818. The preacher used to stand on a rostrum in the hall between the 'noble staircase' and the parlour". But the chief supporter in the early days seems to have been the miller, William Biggs, who came to the mill in 1814 and, though hismelf a Wesleyan, he answered the vicar's [presumably Robert Measham] appeal for volunteers to help him with Sunday evening services in the schoolroom. As the vicar grew old, Biggs took over these services, which became more evangelical, and he carried on until he died in 1870. Missionary meetings during some of this period - possibly after 1829 when Berry Farm was sold - were held in a barn at Bromham Grange, then farmed by the Henmans. The village schoolmaster, who was also Parish Clerk and a Wesleyan class leader, directed services held in the barn, and later the meeting place was transferred to The Grange kitchen".

There never was a Methodist chapel in Bromham. On Sunday 30th March 1851 a census of all churches, chapels and preaching-houses of every denomination was undertaken in England and Wales. The local results were published by Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1975 as Volume 54, edited by D.W.Bushby. No return was made for any Methodist meeting in Bromham.

The Women's Institute scrapbook referred to above continued the story of Methodism in the village: "Some time before 1870 Wesleyan Ministers held week-evening services in the front room of the Bakehouse, and from 1890 this became the regular meeting place for services and for Band of Hope meetings until the death of the Baker, Odell, in 1912 when the house was sold. The meetings were then discontinued for want of premises".

It was in 1889 that John Maydew Wambley of Bedford, Wesleyan Methodist minister, registered a building in occupation of a man named Odell, this registration was cancelled in 1925. The property was indeed the bakery at 15 The Green and the tenant the village baker John Odell. A meeting at Bromham is last mentioned in circuit records in 1919.

Some Primitive Methodists in the village are mentioned in the Bedford Primitive Methodist Circuit baptisms register which extends from 1841 to 1904.