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Marston Moretaine Wesleyan Methodist Church, Shelton Road

In 175 Years of Methodism at Marston Shelton, 1813-1988, David Bushby records that land on Lower Shelton Road along with three cottages, was purchased from Samuel Artleborough in October 1813 for £120, in order to build a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel [HER20148]. There is a tradition that this chapel was built on the site of, or partially incorporated, an old barn where Methodist services had previously been held. A plaque recording the date of the chapel was placed on an inside wall. The only other dated item in this old chapel was a memorial stone for Jane Bennett, who died in 1822 at the age of four. The Methodist movement was very successful in Marston Moretaine and by the 1830s Marston had the largest membership of any village church in the Bedford circuit

By the 1850s a new, larger chapel was needed. This was built in 1858, with the foundation stone laid on 4th June. Nearly 40 individuals made donations towards the cost which eventually totalled nearly £450; these donations were supplemented by general collections. The first sermon in the new chapel was given on 17th September. On 27th September the Bedfordshire Mercury reported:  

“Our readers will recollect that in the month of June last we published be particulars of the services connected with the laying the foundation of this chapel. It has been raised as by magic, and now stands an ornament to the village. The style is gothic; it is built of red bricks with rustic quoins in white bricks, the roof is open and ceiled up to the apex, and the beams are stained and varnished. The pews are low, and the gothic style is kept up throughout the entire building. The gallery, which will seat about 150 persons, is devoted entirely to the use of the choir and the children belonging to the Sunday School, and is approached from the old chapel which adjoins the new one and is to be used as a schoolroom. The body of the new chapel accommodates about 300 persons and is above half appropriated to the poor in free sittings. The entire cost exclusive of fencing, etc., is under £400, and it is generally admitted to be at once the cheapest and handsomest chapel in the neighbourhood.” 

Renovation work was carried out on the schoolroom and cottages in 1897, work was carried out on the chapel ceiling and a new fence was built along the front – the iron railings were taken for use as raw materials in 1943. The chapel and schoolroom were refurbished in 1900 at a cost of £135, and were renovated again in 1920 at a cost of £274.  

At its foundation Marston Shelton was part of the Bedford Wesleyan circuit. It later belonged to the following Methodist circuits: Bedford and Ampthill 1829-1875; Bedford St Mary 1875-1942; Bedford South 1942-1971; Bedford South & Ampthill 1971-2011; North Bedfordshire from 2011.    

The Church has since closed and has been converted to a house known as the Old Chapel.When the property was put up for sale in 2020 it was described as having three double bedrooms, all ensuite, a large open plan living area including a kitchen, a study and a utility room.   

The archives for Shelton Road Methodist Church are held under reference MB2/MM2. 

Records held by Bedfordshire Archives include: 

  • MB2/MM2/1/4760: Baptism register 1925-2013 

  • MB2/MM2/1/4761, 2762, 2766: Marriage registers 1957-2012 

  • MB2/MM2/2/117: Leaders meeting minutes 1930-1958 

  • MB2/MM2/2/4791-92: Church council minutes 1970-2008 

  • MB2/MM2/15/4789-90: Trustees and property committee minutes 1929-1987 

  • MB2/MM2/10/4796: Church centenary brochure, 1958 

  • MB2/MM2/10/4798: Brochure, 150th anniversary of Methodist witness at Marston Shelton 1813-1963 

  • MM2/MM2/10/4800: photograph of members c.1921 

  • RGH6/16/1-2: plans for alterations, 1951 

  • RGH6/19/11-13: plans for proposed extension. 1955-1957 

  • E/YM4/18/1: Marston Moretaine Methodist Youth Club, 1976-1982