Recording Uttlesford History
PRIMITIVE METHODISM IN THE VILLAGES 1839-1900
(extracts from PM records held at ERO D/NM)
Note: the following notes were a part of an extensive study I did of Primitive Methodism in north-westEssex. The story of the ‘Prims’ tends to be less well known than the Wesleyans, but theirs was a very significant mission among the poor, with wide-ranging effects. Primitive Methodism came into this area via missionaries from Norfolk, and from a circuit base in Saffron Walden, it was spread rapidly throughout north-west Essex, east Herts, west Suffolk and south Cambs – areas which later developed their own circuits. Their progress was not, however, without its ups and downs as the following notes demonstrate. If using this material for research purposes please acknowledge source as this website. Those wishing to use for other purposes should contact the chairman for permission.
(c) Jacqueline Cooper 2008
UPWELL PIONEERS: May 1839 Mr. B. Redhead and Mr. J. Jackson were sent by Upwell, Norfolk to lead a mission, settled in Walden and preached at Arkesden, Radwinter, Wimbish, Gt. and Lit. Chesterfords,Newport, Hadstock, Ashdon, Chrishall and Clavering
1841 Clavering with 5 members + 4 more on trial, also Debden, Chrishall andNewport, Arkesden.
1855 CHRISHALL: Chrishall losing members through emigration to Australia.We deeply regret to have to report a decrease of 119 members. We have had 77 (?) removals and 12 deaths. We have not received one member from any other part of the connection. The causes of this decrease are believed to be emigration and poverty. Many of Our Local Preachers, Class Leaders and most influential members have emigrated, many others are on the eve of emigrating. This is the engrossing topic of conversation in many of our societies, some of which have been quite shaken, and almost everyone seems to be unsettled. Some of our members have had to seek a refuge in the Union House of Industry and many have left because they could not pay their class monies while children were wanting bread which the parents had not to give them. We are sorry anyone should leave the Society on account of poverty, but so it is, we know not of any corrective.’
1860 LITTLEBURYLittlebury services on weekdays open air in spring/summer (nowhere else to meet in Littlebury, so united with Walden).
1862 NEWPORT: Charles Norman prosecuting charges against George Barker from ‘females ofNewport’ and committee was to take action. But in a later minute the committee were satisfied that ;the charges given of very wicked women...are a vile fabrication’, and Barker was innocent: they had spent many hours on ‘this painful case’, and the discussion was now guillotined as they broke up for tea at 7.30 p.m. The following meeting had Charles Norman's letter of resignation which the meeting received ‘with grief’. They blamed the ‘wicked women’, who also slandered Bro. Moore. Much comment on ‘making much mischief’, ‘unchristian proceedings’, ‘dismembered themselves’, ‘reading improper documents’ etc.[much more on this row in the PM minutes]
1862HEMPSTEAD: financial problems because £6.14s. was in the hands of the former treasurer, Samuel Andrews but ‘Old Farmer Andrews has failed in business; we have done our best to obtain the money, or a part of it, but have not been able to get any from him this past year, but have hopes that he will be able to pay it after a while, and he promises to do so’. But in 1865 he died, the debt unpaid.
1863: 2 new chapels at Chrishall and Langley ‘exceedingly well attended’, all seats paid for, and two extra pews needed atLangley. But many members would not give class money.
1863: LANGLEY CHAPEL OPENED: ‘Previously to the Primitive Methodists missioning Langley, almost the whole of the inhabitants thereof were living in total ignorance of saving religion, and the greater portion of them were basely wicked and as wild as heathens. About 12 years since, Edward Wheeler and William Howlett and others went from Nuthampstead and held prayer meetings there, which were followed by preaching in the open air by brother Samuel Cole, local preacher of Clavering whose powerful and plain preaching and praying were made a great blessing to many souls. The place was then put on the station's plan, a house was obtained, and regular religious services were established. Many conversions have taken place, and now we have a society of 41 members, six of whom are local preachers, and the moral condition of the inhabitants of the village is greatly improved...In September 1860 Woodham Death Esq. of Langley Hall was applied to for a piece of land on which to build a chapel; at the same time he wrote him a concise history of our Connexion...so affected andastonished that gentlemen that he...meet him at Langley...he would give us a piece of land...the kind gentleman generously measured and gave us ten rods of good freehold land from one of his meadows, and he also gave us a donation of ten shillings and one of his daughters £1." On 7th April 1862 the foundation stone was laid by Mrs. Irwin, sermon by Rev. J.H. Irwin, Independent Minister of Great Chishill. Sunday May 24th 1862 chapel opened by Rev. J. Moore ‘most pleasantly and eligibly situation, and is a most substantial and beautiful little edifice, built after the Norman style, with red white and blue bricks and stone, and is an ornament to the village.."(description).Cost £135.16s. towards which £49.16s. had been raised. Can accommodate 120 seats, 80 in pews all let.Meeting on 13.3.65 agreed on burial ground.
1864: Stansted, Manuden and Henham moved to Stansted branch, then came back again in 1872, but with only 85, less than half the number they went with. J. Clayton & T. Bloorfield ‘expulsion for intoxication’.
: Bro. Bush of Clavering ‘be seen by Mr. Rackham and informed that he is at liberty to take his work but he must be careful with regard to doctrine’. Stanstead: Bro Prior left off because of ‘imprudence in visiting a married female until a late hour of the night’.
1867: could not afford to keep the Stanstead branch going, so put it under the General Missionary Committee.No Sabbath schools yet established, and ‘intemperance and other causes have necessitated the removal of 33 members from our books’.
1870Elmdon - society of 16.Debden - no opening.
1871 Request to enlarge Langley Chapel. Stanstead failed to obtain a preaching place. Farnham missioned – ‘10 professed to receive good. We reckon 4, but at present we have no preaching place.’In Stanstead some local preachers ‘have been very remiss - W. Bishop, J. Parker, J. Woodcock, H. Baker, H. Corbett’. The class leaders ‘have very much neglected’ visiting absent members & collecting weekly class money. SW had ‘missioned Debden have good congregations but cannot obtain a Room’.
1872: All 6 Sunday Schools in Stansted Branch had been given up as some had removed, the teachers were negligent, some teachers were also local preachers so busy on Sabbath. Sunday Schools existed at Stansted, Rickling and elsewhere. ‘Debden have given up as we could not form a society’.Hempstead had fewer members than Clavering but got almost 3 times as much in pew rents, also ran tea meetings & special efforts raising more.
1873: Stanstead Branch joined Walden = add 91 members.
Hempstead lost 23 Sunday School scholars as a boarding school there had moved to Thaxted, ‘the whole of which with teachers attended our Sabbath School’. Langley Sunday School suffered lots of removals.
1874: ‘In May 1874 we were suddenly and unceremoniously shut out of the Independent chapel at Stansted, a place we had been permitted to occupy for 11 years free of rent, owing to their wanting to make it a Baptist Mission place of worship’ – trying to find a barn or cottage to meet in
1875: 10 Sunday school teachers and 41 scholars were lost at Chrishall,Hempstead and other places ‘is attributable principally to the removal of families through the great lock-out of labourers in the Eastern Counties’. Attempts to re-mission two places failed for want of preaching rooms. ‘We should have been able to report a larger increase but for the removals and emigrations caused by the great lock-out in the Eastern Counties which brought a clamp upon our congregations and societies for a time.’
1877: Resolved that Clavering people be allowed to form another class and that Mrs. Buckingham be the leader. Farnham taken off because of ‘impracticability of working the place’.Harvest late - tea atLangley postponed.
1878 CLAVERING: ‘The Primitive Methodists have just held a very successful bazaar on behalf of the funds of a new chapel.’
1878: Mrs. Buckingham preaching at Rickling.Request to keep Rev. Sleight longer to help raise funds for new chapel at Stansted. as ‘the society is feeble’. At Manuden they brought 5 cottages for £182 to build a chapel.
1879: Farnham & Bury Green missioned 1870 but not yet formed a church.
1880: Manuden chapel opened.
1884: Mr. W. Clarke of Manuden told off for going to a pub. Lists of chapel trustees:
Chrishall: Joshua Brand (dead), James Law, John Starr, William Clarke, Thomas Pigg (dead), Robert Brand, William Rodgers (dead), James Giver, Philip Roger (dead), Joseph Clarke, Richard Drayton of Heydon, James Greenhill of Heydon, William Barker of Elmdon (dead).
Hempstead: Joseph Surridge(in Union), John Wand of Croydon, Alfred Purkiss, John Smith of Cambridge, George Turban, John Smith of Cambridge, Robert Cox, Joseph Butcher of Ashdon Road, Walden; Thomas Reed of Castle Street, Saffron Walden; and Arthur Edwards of High Street, Walden.
Manuden: William Tedder, John Benterman, Nathan Hammond, John Skinner, Mr. Jackson (dead), Aaron Patmore of Stansted, James Dixon of Elsenham.
1888: W. Clarke at Manuden told to reach more to improve his knowledge.
1890:Langley to build vestry.
1892: Clavering now in with Stansted circuit, to make shorter journeys.
1894: Elmdon cottage meeting closed down - not enough workers;Langley told off for not using proper preachers
1897: great Circuit meeting planned for July to raise funds at Berden Hall.
1899 J. Salmon and son A. Salmon at Stansted restored to plan and ‘the past be overlooked and buried and we trust they will be loyal and faithful workers on the station’.
Chapel Building dates: 1844 Clavering.1853Hempstead. 1862 Langley, Chrishall.1868 Walden. 1876 Stanstead.