Mill Road Primitive Methodist Church
Bloomsbury Terrace, Mill Road, site of the Primitive Methodist Chapel seen in November 2008
Primitive Methodism was founded in Staffordshire in 1811 by William Clowes and Hugh Bourne. 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 Primitive Methodists was made by William Stevens “Steward” who noted that the meeting in Leighton Buzzard had been extant since 1848 and had 80 seats. Attendance had been 60 in the afternoon and, standing room only, 100 in the evening
This is slightly puzzling as deeds held at Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service note that the Primitive Methodist chapel site was conveyed by Charles Ridgway of Leighton Buzzard, draper to the Primitive Methodist trustees on 5th June 1852 [X223/52]. At that time the site is described as a plot of land in Leighton Buzzard adjoining the Mill Road, containing in breadth eleven yards and in length twenty yards adjoining the footpath to Perrott's piece "to hold upon trust to erect a chapel of Meeting house and school to be used by the members of the Primitive Methodist Connection". Clearly either the meeting from 1848 to 1852 was held elsewhere or the 1852 conveyance was retrospective. The trustees were:
- George Reeve of Leighton Buzzard, butcher;
- Edmund Whiting of Soulbury [Buckinghamshire], labourer;
- Ezra Tripp of Wing [Buckinghamshire], bricklayer;
- George Denchfield of Wing, carpenter;
- Thomas Baker of Wing, labourer;
- William Green of Wing, labourer;
- George Capp of Stewkley [Buckinghamshire], sawyer;
- Edlin White of Stewkley, wheelwright;
- Joseph Biggs of North Marston [Buckinghamshire], farmer;
- James Hollis of Hoggeston [Buckinghamshire], baker.
The site of the chapel appears, on the first edition six inches to the mile Ordnance Survey map to be where the later 39 and 41 Mill Road stand. The chapel was enlarged in 1859. The enlargement was noted in 1860 when Charles Ridgway and Jesse Strapp conveyed to the trustees a plot of land 42 feet by 6 feet "on the site of which part of the enlarged Primitive Methodist Chapel and School rooms are standing" as well as another plot measuring 297 square yards adjoining the chapel [X223/53].
The chapel was registered on 11th December 1860 by Samuel Turner of Aylesbury [Buckinghamshire], the minister and cancelled on 30th October 1896. Registration bought the benefit of exemption from parish poor rates, exemption from control by the Charity Commission and the right to be licensed to carry out marriages. The chapel was again registered on 18th November 1871 by John Robert Swift of Leighton Buzzard, minister, and registered for marriages on 26th August 1878.
In 1882 the chapel was conveyed from the remaining old trustees to new trustees [X223/55]. These were:
- George Denchfield;
- James Gower;
- Thomas Rickett of Leighton Buzzard, carter;
- William Parrott of Leighton Buzzard, furniture dealer;
- William Backhouse of Leighton Buzzard, bricklayer;
- Thomas Edwins of Leighton Buzzard, labourer;
- George Abraham of Leighton Buzzard, labourer;
- Thomas Ellingham of Leighton Buzzard, grocer;
- William Robinson of Leighton Buzzard, carpenter;
- Charles Brown of Leighton Buzzard, sawyer.
The chapel was mortgaged in 1882 for £250 [X223/56] so the new trustees were evidently thinking of doing some building work. Sadly more work than may have been envisaged was needed as a rectal in a conveyance of the site from the trustees to Sarah Ann Kempster in February 1890 for £115 [X223/58] indicates: "the Primitive Methodist chapel and schools in Leighton Buzzard had lately  been destroyed by fire, and that a larger chapel and school are being built in a more convenient part of the town". This more convenient part of town was nearby North Street.
- X223/51: Abstract of title of Charles Ridgway to premises on the North End of Leighton Buzzard: 1838-1851;
- X223/52: Conveyance from Charles Ridgway to the chapel trustees of a plot adjoining Mill Road: 1852;
- MB1551: Leighton Buzzard Primitive Methodist station reports and chapel schedules: 1854-1867;
- X223/53: Purchase of a small plot of land by the chapel trustees from Charles Ridgway: 1860;
- MB242: Primitive Methodists Trustees Minute Book: 1869-1896;
- X223/55: Conveyance of premises from old to new trustees: 1882;
- X223/56: Mortgage of chapel premises: 1882;
- X223/57: Abstract of title of the chapel trustees to the chapel premises: 1889;
- X223/58: Conveyance of the chapel plot following the chapel's destruction by fire: 1890