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Methodism in Chaul End

The Methodist chapel shown on a map of 1924
The Methodist chapel shown on a map of 1924

Chaul End chapel dated from 1846 as stated in the 1851 Ecclesiastical Census (see below - a much later piece of evidence states 1849) as a Wesleyan place of worship. It stood on the spot now occupied by a house known as Chiltern Cedars. The building measured 36 feet by 17 feet and was altered in 1893. The land originally cost £20 to buy and the chapel £210 to build [MB564].

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 Chaul End Wesleyans was made by the Luton Church Street Circuit Superintendent, George Gardner, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The chapel had eighty seats, all free;
  • In the afternoon there had been a congregation of 30 with 40 Sunday scholars;
  • In the evening there was a general congregation of 45;
  • The average for the preceding twelve months was 40 general congregation and 37 Sunday scholars.

The chapel was registered on 6th February 1854 by the Circuit Superintendent. This was now a man with the splendid name of Wright Shovelton. The registration was cancelled on revision on 12th May 1896. It was again registered on 14th October 1893 by Robert Bentley of Luton, the Wesleyan minister and cancelled on revision on 1st June 1964.

The chapel closed in 1955 and was sold in September 1959 for £100. The Superintendent Minister wrote: "From July 1955 services have not been held in the above Chapel. Since that time more houses have been condemned and demolished. There are now 8 houses left, and some of them have to go ... One member only was eventually left and she, a lady of about 80, has been transferred to Beech Hill. Efforts have been made to interest the few people left in the village without success. The building is deteriorating and it is now felt that it would be wise to offer it for sale" [MB564]. The building was subsequently demolished and used as a vehicle runway.

The official reason for the closure and sale of the chapel was given as follows: "In view of the drastic reduction of the population of the hamlet of Chaul End, the absence of any membership, the failure to claim the interest of the few remaining people, the unlikelihood of the development of the area and the deterioration of the property, the Home Mission and Chapel Committee recommends that authority be given to the Trustees to proceed with the sale of the property" [MB564].

Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a small number of records for this chapel as follows:

  • MB654: Trustees' accounts: 1886-1953;
  • MB656: Trustees' minute book: 1936-1959;
  • MB657: Collection Journal: 1938-1952;
  • MB658: Collection Journal: 1953-1955;
  • MB655: Trustees' accounts: 1954-1959;
  • MB564: folder regarding sale of the chapel: 1958-1961.