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Wesleyan Methodism in Wingfield

When the Dunstable Circuit was founded in 1843 was one of the founding members. Previous to this Wingfield had been part of the Luton Wesleyan Circuit.

Notes made for the history of the chapel as part of the book Dunstable Methodist Circuit: 150 Years of Witness 1843-1993 [MB2/WIN/10/3987] states that the first chapel, which was built in 1833, was on land donated by one of the families which worshipped there, probably by a local farmer named Dollimore. It stood on the north side of the T-junction formed by Tebworth Road and Hill Close.

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 Wingfield chapel was made by local preacher James Whinett who recorded that the chapel had 55 free seats. That evening congregation was 55, though the average for the preceding twelve months had been 45.

The old chapel was replaced in 1854. It was a wooden building, covered with corrugated iron and with a corrugated iron roof. It was said that during heavy rain or hail it was difficult to hear the preacher! [MB2/WIN/10/3987]. The building was approached up three steps and a short path, the front door having a canopy over it. Seating was simple wooden forms with a rail for back support. The floor was covered with buff-coloured coconut matting and heating came from a Tortoise stove, lighting being by oil lamps. A low platform stood at the far end on which were a reading desk, a chair and a harmonium. There were three windows on each side and one over the door.

Methodism was made up of a number of competing strands or sects of which Wesleyan Methodism was one. In 1932 the United Methodists and Primitive Methodists came together with the Wesleyans to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain. The year before new trustees had been appointed for Wingfield, as follows [MB2/WIN/6/1969] Alfred Hack of Tebworth, farmer; Henry Foster of Wingfield, labourer; Frederick George Grove of Tebworth, timber merchant; Charles Rose of Wingfield, farmer; Ernest Henry Foster of Wingfield, clerk; Cecil Rose of Wingfield, dairyman; Frank Rose of Wingfield, smallholder; Kenneth Norman of Tebworth, engine driver; Henry Pollard Pullen of Chalton, poultry farmer; Charles Frederick Moore of Dunstable, draper; Cyril Squire Durrant of Dunstable, house furnisher; Frank Kenworthy of Dunstable, corn dealer; John Edward Willison of Dunstable, clerk; Robert James Parkins of Dunstable, joiner and Sidney George Champkin of Dunstable, greengrocer.

With dwindling numbers in Chalgrave it was difficult for the Wingfield chapel to survive with a much larger edifice not much more than a mile away in Tebworth. The last service was held in 1937. The meeting was removed from the Dunstable Circuit plan in 1945 and the chapel was sold on 23rd January 1947 [MB2/WIN/6/1969] and subsequently removed.