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Methodism in Lower Dean

Edwin Welch researched the history of registrations in Bedfordshire for Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Volume 75 Bedfordshire Chapels and Meeting Houses [published in 1996] and found the following two Wesleyan Methodist registrations in Lower Dean:

  • 3rd May 1854: the Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Lower Dean was registered by Thomas Jeffery of Higham Ferrers [Northamptonshire], Wesleyan minister. It was cancelled on revision on 18th March 1971;
  • 10th March 190): the Wesleyan chapel in Lower Dean was registered for marriages. This registration was also cancelled on 18th March 1971.

The Wesleyan chapel dates back some time before 1854, however. The Northampton Mercury of 4th November 1815 carries the following announcement:

THE METHODIST, NEW CHAPEL

At DEAN, Beds.

WILL be OPENED, on TUESDAY the 14th Of NOVEMBER, 1815, when TWO SERMONS will be preached by the Rev. G. MORLEY, of BIRMINGHAM, and one by the Rev. W. TOWERS, of KETTERING. - - Service to begin at half past ten in the Morning.

The chapel stood north of the River Til near the ford a,d a few doors south of the Crown public house.

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. The return for the Wesleyan chapel was made by the chapel steward, Joseph Palmer, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The chapel had 90 free seats and 100 reserved;
  • The general congregation in the afternoon had been 102 and in the evening 142;
  • There had been 46 Sunday scholars in the morning, 46 in the afternoon and 32 in the evening.
  • The averages for the preceding twelve months had been 150 general congregation and 56 Sunday scholars.

At the beginning of the Second World War Saint John the Evangelist Roman Catholic School from Islington [Middlesex] was evacuated to Dean [E/PM3/1/4D]. A piece called A Village at War in The Bedfordshire Magazine Volume 24, Number 192 in Spring 1995 was taken from the writings of the late Mrs. C. L. F. Mackay Brown. 76 children and four teachers came from Islington to Dean and others went to Thurleigh. Ironically, the school occupied the Wesleyan Chapel but moved to Sheringham in Norfolk before the end of 1939.

Sadly Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has no records from the chapel itself because it was in the Higham Ferrers Circuit by 1828, transferring to the Raunds Circuit in 1885 and both these circuits deposited their records at Northamptonshire Record Office. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a list of the records held at Northampton [CRT170/6/19] which shows that there are no individual records for Lower Dean chapel simply circuit records, such as baptism records 1901-1925,  which include mentions of the chapel.