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Methodism in Upper Gravenhurst

The Methodist chapel March 2014
The Methodist chapel March 2014

Edwin Welch researched the history of registrations in Bedfordshire for Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Volume 75 Bedfordshire Chapels and Meeting Houses [published in 1996] and found the following for Upper Gravenhurst:

  • The Wesleyan chapel was first registered in September 1846, by John Crofts, who registered Wesleyan chapels in Luton and Shillington on the same day [ABN1/2; ABN2/388].
  • The Wesleyan chapel was again registered, by Wright Shovelton of Chapel Street, Luton, superintendent minister, on 9th February 1854;
  • The Wesleyan chapel as registered for marriages on 27th May 1898.

On Sunday 30th March 1851 the one and only ecclesiastical census was undertaken to determine numbers of people attending worship at each church, chapel or meeting house in the country. The figures for Upper Gravenhurst Wesleyan chapel were provided by the circuit preacher, from Chapel Street, Luton - William Underwood. The chapel had 95 free seats and 25 others and is stated to have been formed in 1843. The figures were as follows:

  • 40 Sunday scholars in the morning;
  • 40 Sunday scholars in the afternoon;
  • 100 general congregation in the afternoon;
  • 113 general congregation in the evening;
  • On average there were 30 Sunday scholars morning and afternoon;
  • On average there were 100 general congregation, afternoon and evening.

The chapel was originally in the Luton, Chapel Street Circuit as we have seen. Its subsequent circuits were as follows:

  • Luton Waller Street: 1880-1933;
  • Luton: 1933-1965;
  • Luton North: 1965-1987;
  • Luton: 1987-2010;
  • South Bedfordshire: 2010 to time of writing [2017].

A new chapel and Sunday school room were built in 1903-1904 [MB2/GRV/6/607-609]. In 1932 the Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists and United Methodists came together to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain. A new organ was installed in the chapel in 1944.

The rear of the Methodist chapel March 2014
The rear of the Methodist chapel March 2014

Bedfordshire Archive and Record Service has the following records from the church:

  • MB2/GRV/3/601: treasurers’ accounts: 1883-1929;
  • MB2/GRV/3/601: pew rents: 1883-1906;
  • MB2/GRV/6/606: abstract of title to land in Upper Gravenhurst: 1893;
  • MB2/GRV/2/603: trust minutes: 1899-1938;
  • MB2/GRV/6/607: estimate for building the chapel: 1903;
  • MB2/GRV/6/608: contract for building chapel and schoolroom: 1903;
  • MB2/GRV/6/609: tradesmen’s accounts for building chapel and schoolroom: 1903-1904;
  • MB2/GRV/3/610: account book: 1903-1934;
  • MB2/GRV/3/602: pew rent accounts: 1908-1955;
  • MB2/GRV/2/605: leaders and annual church meeting accounts: 1910-1959;
  • MB2/GRV/10/615: printed items: 1916-1946;
  • MB2/GRV/6/611: plan of motor house: 1926;
  • MB2/GRV/3/612: renovation bazaar fund accounts: 1937;
  • MB2/GRV/2/604: trust minutes: 1938-1969;
  • MB2/GRV/2/2271: centenary committee minute book: 1943-1944;
  • MB2/GRV/6/613: papers regarding tuning of organ: 1944-1947;
  • MB2/GRV/15/1888: centenary celebrations and opening of new organ: 1944;
  • MB2/GRV/15/1888: Christmas services: 1944-1981;
  • MB2/GRV/3/614: copy will of Caroline Ayres and executors’ account: 1945;
  • MB2/GRV/6/617: circulars: 1945;
  • MB2/GRV/6/616: papers regarding water supply: 1947;
  • MB2/GRV/6/616: papers regarding new toilets and mains drainage: 1967;
  • MB2/GRV/8/1887: Gravenhurst Methodist Guild programme and syllabus: 1970-1980;
  • MB2/GRV/15/1888: joint ventures with the Anglican church in Gravenhurst: 1972-1981;
  • MB2/GRV/15/1888: Gravenhurst United Junior Church papers: 1973-1981;
  • MB2/GRV/15/1888: church statements of accounts: 1977-1978;
  • MB2/GRV/6/3835: photograph of the church exterior: 1996.