The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Charnham Street was built in 1869-70 on the site of the White Hart Inn (which traded from 1686 until 1864).
The Chapel closed in 1970, and was demolished in 1971.
- Wesleyan Chapel, Charnham Street
- Wesleyan Church and Charnham Street, undated c1912.
- The only remaining part of the churchyard wall, Charnham Street, Feb 2010
- Wesleyan Chapel, 9 Feb 1970 (DM)
- Wesleyan Chapel, shortly before it was demolished, 1971.
The Wesleyan Chapel, Charnham Street:
The predecessor to the Wesleyan Chapel was the Ebenezer Chapel in Church Street which had been built in 1807.
In the 1860s, at a time of considerable religious fervour, church restoration and new building, the Wesleyan Methodists decided to build a grand new Gothic style chapel in Charnham Street. The Wesleyan Chapel was built on the site of the White Hart Inn (which had traded from 1686 until 1864), opposite the Bear, and therefore occupied a prominent position in the town.
Follow this link for extracts of documents relating to the purchase of the White Hart site in 1868-69.
The NWN of 8th July 1869 reported: "The New Wesleyan Chapel, which is a great ornament to the town, and certainly one of the most imposing of its architectural specimens, was opened on Wednesday. The style of the building is Early Gothic; it runs north and south. and has a frontage to the street. It is built of grey bricks, with Bath stone dressings, having a handsome tower of Bath stone with open bell turret, and gilt iron terminal. There are three entrances on the south side and one on the north-east to the vestry; the chapel is exceedingly well lighted, the south window is very large and handsome, and the whole filled with Catheral tinted glass.
The interior walls are stuccoed, and the roof is lofty and open the ceiling covered with matched boarding, with large handsome stained principals. An apse at the north end forms a chancel, which is paved with patent tiles by Malkin of Burdlem; a communion table and chairs are placed in the Chancel, which is separated from the rest of the Chapel by Communion rails of mahogany On either side of the organ and vestry recesses, the seats are comfortable and open, of yellow deal and pitch pine, varnished, and the pulpit is open of the same material.
A commodious gallery is erected at the south end, and the chapel has altogether a light and cheerful appearance. The chapel is provided with a heating apparatus, and ample arrangements are made for ventilation. The interior demensions are 80 feet by 30.
The total cost inclusive site is £2,000. Towards this £1,400 has been raised; there is still therefore a large deficiency.The architects are Messrs Wilson and Willcox of Bath and the contract has been carried out by Mr. Phillips of Swindon."
The first wedding was reported in the NWN of 22nd July 1869: "On Monday the first wedding in the new Wesleyan Chapel was solemnized by the minister, the contracting parties being William Breadman and Mary Stone, and in honour of the event were presented with a Bible, a copy of Wesley's Hymns, and a work on Theology written by Mr. Locke. Five couples attended the bride and bridegroom, and a large number of persons were present to witness the ceremony."
When the new Wesleyan Chapel opened, the old Ebenezer Chapel in Church Street was used only for a Day and Sunday School.
Built to the rear of the church and linked to the original vestry was a kitchen, schoolrooms and new larger vestry, which opened on 2 Dec 1924.
With the increase in traffic in the 20th century, this proved to be a poor site both as a Church and as a school as people found it difficult to cross the busy road. In 1970 it was finally closed and was demolished the following year.
Mrs Jean Bolton wrote (Sep 2004) to add an interesting insight into the re-use of building materials from the demolished Wesleyan chapel: "the house we first occupied in Hungerford (6 Fairview Road) was built by Mr Lilliwhite, an almost-retired builder. He was married to a much younger wife, and wanted her to have somewhere special to live in when he'd died. Unfortunately she was taken ill and died before he completed the house.
The point is, much of the material used came from the Weslyan chapel in Charnham Street, which Mr Lilliwhite was helping to demolish. Window ledges in particular made from old pews, and a lot of stonework - specially in the garden, from the chapel.
Poor old chap - he was so upset by the wife's death, he could not bear to continue, and so it was put on the market. The garden contained many rare plants, taken (I regret to say) from cuttings from various Open Gardens visited by Mr and Mrs Lilliwhite! We were later told by a neighbour that he only considered selling to us because we were interested in - and could name - these plants, and had turned down offers from other people who failed the test!"
The site is now a residential development called Chapel Court.