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Wesleyan Methodism in Shillington

The Liberal Club July 2015
The Liberal Club July 2015

A Wesleyan Methodist meeting in Shillington was registered in September 1846 by John Crofts [ABN1/2; ABN2/390], it had been built in Church Street in 1840 and later became the Liberal Club. At this date the chapel formed part of the Luton Circuit.

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 Wesleyans was made by leader William Dear. The chapel was dated 1840 and contained 70 free seats, 84 other seats and standing room for 30. In the afternoon 159 people attended and 190 in the evening. The averages for the preceding twelve months had been 150 and 50 respectively.

The chapel was re-registered 9th February 1854 by Wright Shovelton of Chapel Street, Luton, superintendent minister following enlargement of the chapel [MB2/Lim/3/411]. This registration was cancelled on 8th May 1897 on revision.

The Wesleyan Methodist chapel April 2015
The Wesleyan Methodist chapel April 2015

A new chapel was needed because the old one was too small. In Sacred Flame published in 1972 by Mrs M Ingrey, G Cooper and J D Tearle it is stated that in 1870 land was acquired in High Road which included a cottage, the price was £120. The new chapel was built in 1872 at a cost of £600 and registered by Robert Eland of Luton on 17th September; the chapel was registered for marriages on 22nd November 1897. In 1880 Shillington became part of the Luton Waller Street Circuit.

The Sunday school was housed in a purpose built building next to the chapel and records survive from 1879 [MB2/SHI2/7/1642]. This building is now [2015] used as a post office and local shop. In 1932 the Wesleyans came together with the Primitive Methodists and United Methodists to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Shillington came under the Luton Circuit. Nevertheless the two chapels, Wesleyan in High Road and Primitive in Bury Road continued to operate separately for a further 64 years, no doubt each continuing to follow their own brand of Methodism. On 29th August 1996 High Road and Bury Road chapels amalgamated, the chapel in Bury Road becoming a private house. Sadly, the High Road chapel only lasted a further eight years, closing in 2004.

The former Wesleyan Sunday School April 2015
The former Wesleyan Sunday School  April 2015

Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service has the following records for the former Wesleyan chapels in Shillington:

  • MB2/Lim/3/411: Limbury Chapel account book including accounts for Shillington: 1845-1898
  • MB2/SHI2/1/3195: baptism register: 1869-1999;
  • MB2/SHI2/7/1642: Sunday school minute book: 1879-1948;
  • MB2/SHI2/2/825: trustee minute book: 1887-1951;
  • MB2/SHI2/7/1643: Sunday school account book: 1887-1931;
  • MB2/SHI2/3/2493: trust account book: 1887-1949;
  • MB2/SHI2/1/3196: marriage register: 1897-1917;
  • MB2/SHI2/5/1716: programme for Sunday school anniversary: 1907;
  • MB2/SHI2/2/2497: leader's meeting minute book: 1912-1953;
  • MB2/SHI2/3/2496: collection journal: 1916-1948;
  • MB2/SHI2//7/1644: Sunday school account book: 1933-1936;
  • MB2/SHI2/16/2500: Pulpit notice book: 1937-1940;
  • MB2/SHI2/1/3183: marriage register: 1940-1963;
  • MB2/SHI2/16/2501: Pulpit notice book: 1940-1942;
  • MB2/SHI2/6/827: copy deed of conveyance of cottage and land for the chapel in 1870: c. 1945;
  • MB2/SHI2/8/2498: Guild minute book: 1945-1957;
  • MB2/SHI2/3/1645/1: Sunday school cash book: 1947-1960;
  • MB2/SHI2/3/2494: trust account book: 1949-1974;
  • MB2/SHI2//2/1715: trustee minute book: 1952-1986;
  • MB2/SHI2/2/3151: leader's meeting minutes: 1954-1968;
  • MB2/SHI2/3/2495: trust cash book: 1961-1963;
  • MB2/SHI2//7/2499: Sunday school account book: 1966-1978;
  • MB2/SHI2/1/3184: marriage register: 1968-2002;
  • MB2/SHI2/2/3069: leader and church council minutes: 1968-1980;
  • MB2/SHI2/10/826: Sacred Flame: 1972;
  • MB2/SHI2/3/1645/2: cash book: 1974-1981;
  • MB2/SHI2/6/827: correspondence etc regarding the merger with Bury Road: 1987-1996;
  • MB2/SHI2/2/3198: church minute book: 1990-2004;
  • MB2/SHI2/2/3199: High Road and Bury Road Joint Church Council minute book: 1993-1996;
  • MB2/SHI2/4/3197: public reception into membership: 1995-1996;
  • MB2/SHI2/11/3830: policy for the church: 1995;
  • MB2/SHI2/6/3843: exterior photograph: 1996;
  • MB2/SHI2/6/3844: exterior photograph of the Manse: 1996;
  • MB2/SHI2/14/3202: correspondence post amalgamation with Bury Road chapel: 1996.