The Wesleyan Ebenezer Chapel in Church Street was built in 1807. It was used for 62 years until 1869 when the Wesleyan Methodists moved from Church Street to Charnham Street where a fine new Gothic Wesleyan Church had been built.
- Ebenezer Chapel in 1991 showing remaining chamber tombs.
- Memorial stone for Anne Tate, 2018 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)
- Ebenezer Chapel graveyard, 2018 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)
- The Hogsflesh Chamber tomb, 2017 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)
- The Gibbons Chamber tomb, 2018 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)
- James Allen headstone, 2018 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)
- John Perdue headstone, 2018 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)
- Mary Hogsflesh memorial on the family tomb, 2018 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)
Non-conformism in Hungerford:
There is a long and proud history of non-conformism in Hungerford.
John and Charles Wesley were Church of England priests in the 18th century. They felt called to bring the word of God to non-churchgoers and to address some of the pressing social issues of the day, matters not high on the agenda of the Established Church at that time. In due course this became a separate denomination known as the Methodist Church. John and Charles Wesley were Church of England priests in the 18th century. They felt called to bring the word of God to non-churchgoers and to address some of the pressing social issues of the day, matters not high on the agenda of the Established Church at that time. In due course this became a separate denomination known as the Methodist Church.
John Wesley died in 1791. It was in 1807 that the Wesleyan Ebenezer Chapel in Church Street was built.
The enthusiasm of the 18th Century Wesleyan Methodist reformers had waned somewhat after the death of John Wesley and by 1811 a new Church known as Primitive Methodists was formed. The split had come about over the conduct of Worship - the Wesleyans were more formal, but the Primitives often preached in the open air, often all day, and they were sometimes called "Ranters" because of their exuberance!
The Wesleyan Ebenezer Chapel, Church Street:
The Wesleyan Ebenezer Chapel in Church Street was built in 1807. It is intriguing that in the deeds it is recorded that the Chapel was built on a previous Wesleyan site - "that strip of orchard land in Church Street adjoining the Old Wesleyan Chapel". There is no record of this earlier Chapel though it might well have been a private house where the owner allowed meetings to take place. It is possible that John Wesley himself might have known this Chapel. Certainly he visited Hungerford and the adjoining area.
The 1851 "Census of Religious Worship" records: Free sittings 160; Other sittings 156; Standing room for 50.
Congregation on 30th March 1851: Morning 173; Sunday School 79; Evening 153. Minister C W Williams.
In 1869 the Wesleyan Methodists moved from Church Street to Charnham Street where a fine new Gothic Wesleyan Church had been built.
As was customary in Methodist churches, there was a day school attached to both Church Street and Bath Road.
The Ebenezer Stone:
In 1994 the extensive restoration and refurbishment to the Methodist Church and church hall in Bridge Street was paid for by selling The Manse to Mr Gregory and Rachel Furr. Whilst landscaping area behind church hall, the gardener found a stone lying flat (under a washing line) inscribed "Ebenezer. Samuel Chap 7 verse 12 - 1807". This was the foundation stone from the original Ebenezer Chapel in Church Street. The foundation stone was moved to the Wesleyan Chapel in Charnham Street in 1869, and came to Bridge Street in 1972 when the Wesleyan Chapel was demolished. Many Wesleyan chapels include the name “Ebenezer”. The first book of Samuel, chapter 7, verse 12, where Samuel put down a stone saying ‘The Lord has helped us up to here’. "Ebenezer" means "stone of thanksgiving or help".
(This section is based on an article kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, July 2018)
A survey of the graveyard in Church Street revealed a 13 graves, including two family chamber tombs, six head stones (only two of which can be read since the other four are hidden in the shrubbery) and one flat stone.
It is the resting place of some interesting Hungerford people, one with the unusual name of Hogsflesh.
The Family Chamber Tombs:
Chamber tombs were built of stone and generally associated with persons of a higher status. They were often large enough to accommodate several internees from the same family or group.
In 1991, only two chamber tombs remained, one belonging to Mary Gibbons and one to John Hogsflesh. Today in 2018, sadly only the inscription on the Hogsflesh chamber tomb is still legible.
John Hogsflesh, the owner of Eddington Mill, was born on 2 Dec 1759 in Otford, Kent. He married Ann Perritt and they had 12 children. He then married Hannah Salt on 22 Nov 1811 in Whitechapel, Middlesex. He died in January 1842 in Hungerford at the age of 82.
The second chamber tomb, belonging to Mary Gibbons, (christened Flora Mary Gould) has fallen into a state of disrepair and is secreted in the undergrowth. She was the wife of Richard Gibbons, the founder and owner of Gibbons Iron Foundry, once sited on the Bath Road where the Texaco garage is found today. She died in 1856 and he died in 1863.
The only two inscriptions which can still be read in 2018 are to the memories of John Purdue and James Allen.
John Purdue was born in 1770 in Newbury, the son of James and Mary Purdue. He married Martha Corderoy on 12 May 1799 and they had six children. John Purdue was Constable of Hungerford in 1813, and died 23 Jun 1843, aged 73.
James Allen was the eldest son of the Reverend James and Susannah Allen. The Reverend Allen was a Wesleyan minister, as revealed by his son’s headstone. James Allen was ordained in 1806 and perhaps he was the first minister of the Ebenezer Chapel?
The Flat Stones:
There is in 2018 only one flat stone remaining in the churchyard and this is to the memory of Ann Tate.
Ann Tate was born in 1777 and married Alexander Tate. Their daughter Jemima Elizabeth Tate was born on 18 Dec 1808. Jemima married William Hogsflesh on 19 Apr 1837. They had five children. Ann was proud of her son William, noting him on her gravestone which also recorded the fact that he lived at Eddington Mill.
What have all these people got in common?
There was a long and proud history of non-conformism in Hungerford. Catholics who disagreed with the teachings of the Church of England were known as recusants and their Protestant counterparts were known as dissenters.
Those buried in Church Street were Wesleyan Methodists, so Protestant dissenters.
In order for Hungerford dissenters to set up an independent house of worship, they had to apply to the Dean of Salisbury Cathedral, the Reverend John Elkins for permission to hold services. Both John Purdue and John Hogsflesh were signatories to the application which took place on the 17 Nov 1807.
Clearly, they were successful!