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Primitive Methodism in Stewartby

RDBP1-179 Primitive Methodist chapel at Wootton Broadmead
The temporary Primitive Methodist chapel at Wootton Broadmead 1911 [RDBP1/179]

The earliest mention of Primitive Methodists in Wootton comes from names written in the Bedford Circuit baptism register [MB1854]. These names comprise:

  • 30th April 1858: Frederick William, born in Wootton on 17th March 1858, son of Charles Thompson, labourer and Sarah, his wife;
  • 7th August 1864: Agnes, born in Wootton on 31st May 1864, daughter of Charles and Sarah Thompson, this entry stating that before marriage Sarah had been Sarah Yarrow;
  • 3rd March 1869: George, son of Jesse Dudley, labourer and Ann, his wife, of Wootton Green;
  • 8th August 1869: Lucy Ann, daughter of Charles and Sarah Thompson;
  • 17th May 1874: George Oliver, son of George and Prudence Cave of Wootton Pillinge;
  • 1st August 1877: Elizabeth Ann, daughter of Joseph Dudley of Wootton Pillinge, labourer and Mary his wife;
  • 24th April 1878: Charles James, born in Wootton on 16th March 1878, son of Mary Ann Huckle of Wootton Pillinge, spinster;
  • 9th January 1879: Sarah Ann, born at Wootton Broadmead on 24th November 1878, daughter of Joseph and Mary Dudley, now of Wootton Broadmead;
  • 3rd April 1879: Flora Sophia, born in Wootton in December 1877, daughter of George and Prudence Cave, George is now a signalman;
  • 2nd December 1879: Alice Sophia, born on 20th September 1879, daughter of John Cave of Wootton Broadmead, labourer and Mary Ann, his wife;
  • 2nd December 1879: Walter Thomas, born in Wootton on 29th June 1879, son of Elijah Gadsden of Wootton Pillinge, labourer and Elizabeth, his wife;
  • 2nd December 1879 William George, born in Wootton on 18th September 1879, son of George Burridge of Wootton Pillinge, labourer and Emma, his wife;
  • 11th August 1880: Susan, born in Wootton on 26th May 1880, daughter of Charles Jones of Wootton Broadmead, labourer and Jane, his wife;
  • 11th August 1880: Rose Ellen, born in Wootton on 5th May 1880, daughter of Joseph and Mary Dudley of Wootton Broadmead;
  • 27th October 1881: Joseph, born in Wootton on 14th August 1881, son of Elijah and Elizabeth Gadsden of Wootton Pillinge;
  • 4th October 1882: Ellen, born in Wootton on 30th April 1882, daughter of James Bushby of Wootton Broadmead, labourer and Sarah, his wife;
  • 4th October 1882: George, born in Wootton on 14th November 1879, son of James and Sarah Bushby;
  • 25th June 1883: Mark Edward, born in Wootton on 9th December 1882 son of George Cook of Wootton Pillinge, labourer and Sarah, his wife;
  • 7th November 1884: Albert Edward, born in Wootton on 22nd May 1884, son of Elijah and Elizabeth Gadsden of Wootton Pillinge;
  • 7th November 1884: Frederick, born in Wootton on 16th April 1884, son of has and Sarah Bushby of Wootton Pillinge;
  • 23rd July 1888: Horace George, born in Wootton on 27th June 1888, son of George and Hannah, no surname given, of Wootton Pillinge;
  • 19th December 1892: Herbert James, born in Wootton on 12th October 1892, son of James and Sarah Bushby of Wootton Broadmead;
  • 1st October 1893: Rosswell John, born on 1st September 1893, son of Thomas Gadsden of Wootton Pillinge, labourer and Elizabeth, his wife;
  • 6th July 1896: William Rupert, son of James Woodland, railway labourer of Wootton Broadmead and Catherine Mary, his wife;

It is interesting to see the numbers growing from the late 1860s onwards. Wootton Pillinge and Wootton Broadmead were in those parts of the ancient parish of Wootton transferred to the new civil parish of Stewartby in 1937 as a result on the expansion of the clay mining and brick making. There was a brickfield in this area at least by 1865 as shown on maps operated by William Franklin of Marston Moretaine [VLB2-6/44]. Another brickworks opened about 1879, operated by James Randall [HNUncat41].

In 1911 planning application was sought for a temporary chapel at Wootton Broadmead [RDBP1/179] which was approved [MB1804]. The building was constructed on land leased for seven years by Joseph Mead for £1 per annum. The site measured 40 feet by 19 feet and was “situate at the end of my garden beside the road that runs from Broadmead to Pillinge”. The signatories for the Primitive Methodists were: James Robinson; William Turvey; Thomas Gadsden; Percy C. Gadsden; Ernest F. Gadsden; Jabez Gadsden; Ewart H. Tickner; Anthony Odell and John Savage [MB1805]. The chapel was registered by the superintendent minister in 1920 [MB1806].

A renewal of the lease in 1931 has the same rent and most of the same trustees. In 1933 the site was sold by Joseph Mead’s executors to the London Brick Company [MB1809]. In 1932 the Primitive Methodists had come together with the Wesleyan and United Methodists to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

In 1952 it was proposed to install an electricity supply to the chapel [MB1810]. In 1958 however the Department for Chapel Affairs wrote: “We have received your letter informing us that it has been decided to close down your work at Stewartby, and that it has been decided to dispose of the building, which you say is of a temporary character” [MB1811]. The lease was not renewed in 1960.

Sketch map of the site of the Methodist chapel 1952 [MB1810]
Sketch map of the site of the Methodist chapel 1952 [MB1810]