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Methodism in Stanford

In 1951 or 1952 a site was bought for a Methodist chapel in Stanford. Stanford is part of the Biggleswade Circuit and successive property registers note simply "site". As far as records at Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service indicate a chapel was never built. Interestingly in 1927 the valuation of Village Farm for rating purposes noted a small chapel in the rickyard and this seems to have been where the Methodists congregated.

Stuart Webb and Judith Reed contacted the office in 2015 with some additional information which is given below. It is believed that the chapel was opened before 1908 by Joe Sells (1868-1935) who lived at 105 Mill Road and was foreman at Village Farm. The chapel had a small stage at one end, chairs instead of pews and a small organ played by Flossie, Joe's granddaughter.

A Sunday school was run in the afternoon with a service afterwards led by a visiting lay preacher who would then usually retire to 105 Mill Road for tea. One such preacher was a Miss Turgoose who taught at Rose Lane School in Biggleswade.

The following obituary is taken from the Biggleswade Chronicle for 11th October 1935: "Methodism in the little village of Stanford has lost one of its figureheads, and his employer a trusted servant, in the passing on Tuesday morning of Mr Joseph Sells, aged 67 years".

"Mr Sells had been in failing health for some time, but had only kept to his bed for a fortnight".

"He was born at Clifton and was well known there. For five years he worked for Mr Inskip of Shefford Hardwicke and came to Stanford twenty years ago as foreman of Mr Herbert Inskip's farm there".

"He was very well known in the village and was a familiar figure riding around with his dogs, Brownie and Toby. His upright figure was in keeping with his character and he was esteemed and respected by many. His employer lost a most trusty servant. He testifies that "he was as trustworthy as the day. He was a man who could be depended upon and was a racy character".

"He became superintendent of the Sunday School, which is held in one of the farm buildings which had been converted for the purpose on his arrival at Stanford, a position he held up to the time of his death. Nearly all the children of the village have passed through the Sunday School".

"He attended the evening service at the little place of worship regularly up to the past three weeks".

"The Sunday School anniversary is always a great day in the village and no one took more active interest in the training of the children and the preparations for the day than did Mr Sells. He was Society Steward for some time and a class leader".

"Mr Sells was beloved by all and his demise will be regretted".

"Sympathy is extended to the widow, two sons - Messrs William and Bert Sells, of Biggleswade - and grand-daughter Miss Flossie Sells, who lived with her grand-parents".

"The funeral takes place tomorrow (Saturday) at 3.15, the first part of the service being held at the little chapel on the farm where he delighted to worship, the interment following at Southill".