The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel
Typically, a small group of people met together initially in someone’s cottage/house. Then, when the society was strong enough, both in numerically and financially a property would be acquired – rented, bought or built. So, in 1848, a cottage and garden in Charney was acquired in what was Little Lane (now Chapel Lane) for use by the society [see details below] and became a chapel in the Wantage Wesleyan Methodist Circuit. Later a purpose built building would be built on the site (check).
Methodism in all its branches (and still today) operates a connexional system of Circuits with a number of chapels under the care of a Superintendent Minister with other ordained ministers. Methodism has always relied heavily on specially trained local preachers to fill many of its pulpits each week.
During the lifetime of Charney Bassett chapel Wantage was the head of the circuit with smaller chapels in local villages. Studying the few records deposited in the Oxfordshire History Centre several interesting facts came to light and there will be more in the Berkshire Record Office.
The Chapel was closed and became the village hall in 1956.
Riots in Charney Bassett
Darren Franklin is a descendent of William Franklin (his 4x Great Grandfather) and drew our attention to the following article which appeared in the Berkshire Chronicle 20th October 1827, a full 20 years before the Methodist chapel was acquired in 1848.
It tells of a Wesleyan dissenters prayer meeting held in the house occupied by William Franklin and his son John, being disrupted by a large rowdy mob (including another of his sons James), many and large stones were thrown. The ensuing court case appears to have been a big issue in the local press. This highlights some of the strong feelings faced in the early days of this type of noncomformism and of the origins of the Chapel in Charney.
The building later acquired for use as the chapel was ‘occupied by Ann Franklin’. Ann was also related to William.
Click to enlarge and scroll:
Important Case: Disturbing a congregation of Protestant dissenters at Charney, Near Wantage
The Chapel Building
The following is (Abstracted from ‘Charney Bassett Through the Centuries’ by Jasmine S Howes 1975)
In the middle of the 1800s a Wesleyan Methodist chapel was erected. Brief extracts from three documents (Berkshire Record Office, Reading. CPC 83D) relating to the Chapel provide details of its origins:
Dated 15th June 1848. William Shippery Esquire to Mr James Moss and others. Release of a Cottage and Garden situate at Charney … for the use of the Wesleyans.
… the … parties … have contracted and agreed with … William Shippery for the absolute purchase of … All that Cottage or Tenement and Garden situate … in the Village of Charney … now in the occupation of Ann Franklin …..
I undersigned Joseph Henry Slack of Wantage … Wesleyan Minister DO HEREBY … CERTIFY that a certain Building known by the name of Weslyan Methodist Chapel situated at Charney … is intended to be used … as a Place of Meeting for Religious Worship by a Congregation … of persons calling themselves Weslyan Methodists … Dated this twenty eighth day of April 1875 …
Dated 6th Dec 1884 Charney Wesleyan Chapel. Appointment of New Trustees and Conveyance of the Trust Property to the continuing and New Trustees. This Indenture … [concerning] The Cottage or tenement and garden situate in the village of Charney … then in the occupation of Ann Franklin (upon part of which garden a Chapel has since been built …
William Shippery – Born at Childrey in August 1781 William Shippery was a landowner with an award winning stud. In 1821, visiting London on business, on the Sunday he entered a building in Gt. Queen Street. Although he was impressed by the preacher the effect did not last. However, in April 1831 he went again to discover it was a Methodist Chapel. Deciding to change his life, on his return home he told the vicar he proposed to build a school for the parish. His friends were appalled at his changed attitude so he decided to leave Childrey. Going to Gt. Queen Street on 10th December he was converted. Leaving Childrey in March 1832 he eventually settled in Worthing, Sussex.
On the anniversaries of special dates in his life he often gave donations to a chapel or charity. He also set aside about ½ his income for God’s service, particularly giving very large sums towards building chapels and schools in Berkshire, which included the chapel at Charney, and nearby counties. He suffered heart problems and died on 14th May 1853 at Worthing.
[Condensed from the obituary in Wesleyan Methodist Magazine (March 1856 pp.193-202) By Dr Dorothy Graham]
James Moss – See above (Dated 15th June 1848. William Shippery Esquire to Mr James Moss and others. Release of a Cottage and Garden situate at Charney … for the use of the Wesleyans).
Died July 10 1872
Aged 72 Years
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord
Joseph Henry Slack
Joseph Henry Slack entered ministry in 1863; was stationed in
- 1864 Guernsey [English]
- 1865 Jersey [French]
- 1867 Newcastle, Brunswick
- 1868 Douglas, Isle of Man
- 1869 Liskeard
- 1871 Bishop Auckland
- 1874 Wantage
- 1877 Taunton etc
He died in 1899.
Newbury Weekly News and General Advertiser – Thursday 05 August 1880
WANTAGE. CENTENARY OF SUNDAY Schools.—On Thursday, July 22, the united schools of the Wesleyan and Baptist congregations of this town held their centenary gathering. More than 300 children, with their teachers, met in the Wesleyan Chapel at 11.45 a.m., from whence, headed by a band and with banners flying and each wearing a centenary medal, they passed in eleven waggons round the market-place, up Newbury-street, and along Portway-place, through Childrey. Here they were joined by the schools of that place and Charney, and the party then went on to the park of Mr. J. G. Abram, of Sparsholt, were they had tea and other refreshments. They amused themselves with swinging, cricket, and other games. They returned in the same way in the evening, unloading in the Market-place nt 9.20 p.m., after spending a most enjoyable day, the weather being charming, a great number of visitors being present.
Charney Bassett Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was part of the Wantage Circuit; records of which are given below [from ‘Hall’s Circuits and Ministers’ 1765-1912].
Statistical Returns for 1940 say: Wantage and Wallingford Circuit: 22 churches are listed.
The information for Charney is: ‘Wesleyan; structure brick; seating accommodation 80; type of seating forms; no school hall or other rooms’.
Circuit Plans & Minutes Books
The two Local Preachers’ Minutes Books (1868-1928) give little detailed information about to Charney, but are chiefly interesting for the names recorded. So we find that at the meeting on December 27th 1881 at Harwell Chapel ‘Bro. James Moss of Charney having been on Trial for nearly three years was examined by the Superintendent and having passed a very satisfactory examination was unanimously accepted as a fully accredited Local Preacher for our pulpits’. The Circuit Plan reproduced below shows that he took services at Charney on 19th November 1882 and 28th January 1883; at Letcombe Regis on 5th November, which included the circuit fund collection, and again on 31st December and at Childrey on 26th November, which included the Quarterly collection – a total of ten in the quarter – quite a commitment!
However, there were obviously things of concern in the Charney chapel as the meeting at Harwell on 26th December 1882 records:
‘Affairs at Charney were reported to be in a bad state especially in reference to the continued neglect and apparent indifference of the Society Steward: It was deemed advisable if possible to hold a Meeting of Enquiry on the spot’. The meeting of the Committee of Enquiry ‘respecting certain rumours and charges affecting the character of Brother George Moon of Charney Society in the Wantage Circuit’ was held at Charney Chapel on Friday evening April 7th 1883. Unfortunately, but perhaps understandably, the actual rumours and charges are not specified and recorded for posterity! The Resolution simply states:
“That this Meeting finds after careful and lengthy enquiry that the grave and terrible charges against the moral character of Bro. Geo. Moon are founded upon the falsehood and malice of the enemies of God and His Church: that they cannot be proved, and that Bro. Moon’s explanation of his conduct and especially his guardedness and strict carefulness of that conduct since the rumours started is highly creditable to himself and satisfactory to the Meeting.
The Meeting desires moreover to express its great sorrow that in connection with the above rumours and charges the hitherto respectable and untarnished names of Mr & Mrs Silston of Charney should have been implicated – and desires most earnestly to express its utter abhorrence of the malign attempt to ruin their character, at the same time rejoicing that the attempt has been altogether unsuccessful their entire innocence being proved in the course of the above meeting of the Committee of Enquiry.
Signed. Jos. R. Warburton (Chairman, Circuit Minister)
William, J Pearce (Secretary, Circuit Minister)
Edwin Unwin (Member of Committee of Enquiry)”
Assuming that there was not a Methodist chapel at Goosey it looks as if George Moon was the Society Steward at Charney rather than actually living in the village. This is borne out by the address given for him on the Circuit plan and the 1881 census, where a son, aged five, is listed for Goosey There are two possibilities for identifying his father (1) GM, aged 54, coal merchant & farmer with 35 acres employing 6 men and a boy, estimated birth date 1830; born Somerset or (2) GM aged 36, carter, estimated birth date 1845; born Pewsey, Wilts Moon was appointed to take services at Charney on 29th October and 10th December 1882 – both before the Committee of Enquiry! He is not listed as the Society Steward on the plan (Mr Harris is), so either only the senior steward was listed, most likely as there is only one given for all the chapels and Wantage, in particular, would probably have had at least two or because of the rumours he was no longer in office.
At the Quarterly Meeting of 23rd October 1882 arrangements were made for there to be special services in 1883, preceded by a week of special prayer at several chapels including Charney, from February 4-11th It was noted at the Quarterly Meeting on 29th December 1885 that some chapels, including Charney, had reported a decrease in membership due to ‘persons who had ceased to meet.’ One wonders if the troubles of 1882/3 had something to do with this?
In October 1886 the ‘friends at Childrey and Charney were to be asked if it would be convenient to have morning service instead of afternoon’ with the answers to be given to the Superintendent Minister and Mr Unwin (probably the local preachers’ Secretary). No note of the reply is recorded. (would need to find a plan or other notes to verify)
From the Local Preachers Minute Books in the Oxfordshire History Centre it seems as if certain local preachers failed to fulfil their appointments at Charney – J Legge and H. Broughton (1898), though both gave reasonable (unspecified) explanations and Mr Wheeler (1899) who was reprimanded. Brother Henry Hawkins had been ‘on trial’ as a local preacher for 2 years and in 1911 he was asked to prepare for his oral examination. This would be followed by a trial service at Grove when some senior local preachers would listen and report to the next meeting. However, Mr Hawkins did not attend for his oral examination, though he sent his apologies. It was decided to continue him on trial, but he would be interviewed by the Rev Looker, which could have been quite scary! **
The Rev William Looker, FGS (born 1871) studied for some years as Student-Assistant to the Woodwardian Professor of Geology, Cambridge, fellow of Geological Society of London; Secretary of Local Preachers’ Committee, Oxford District. 1912 1914 he was stationed at Oxford and living at Caldecot Lodge, Belmont, Wantage
Most of the other mentions of Charney in the Minutes simply detail the movement of various local preachers into and out of the area. The one exception is that a letter of sympathy was sent to Bro. Belcher of Charney conveying brotherly greeting and loving interest in June 1914. Whether he had suffered bereavement or was ill is a matter for conjecture.
This is an extract from the collections at Charney Methodist Church. The original is held in the Oxford History Centre, ref NM/6/4/F2/1. Entries in this book are from Dec 1917.
It shows how much was collected and for what purpose it was intended. See examples below.
Dec 2nd (evening service) and 4th (meeting): For ‘Foreign Missions’. 6s 8½d & 5s 8d.
Dec 30th: For ‘Horse Hire’. 1s 6½d
Jan 27th: For ‘Home Missions’.
Feb 10th: For ‘Chapel Fund’.
This is the Circuit Schedule book from 1862 for the Wantage Circuit, which includes Charney. It is held in the Oxford History Centre NM/6/A/A4/4.
It shows the growth in numbers in the society from 4 (before Sept 1862) to 17 by December 1871. James Moss and Mr Harris both appear in the documentation.
Support to Kingswood and Woodhouse Grove Schools
Charney 1s6d each year for 1849-1852