Holbeach Drove Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Lincolnshire

D Secker
D Secker

Situated on Chapel Drove, this is one of the oldest chapels still in use in the county. It opened on Thursday 14th February 1833 with a sermon by the Rev Theophilus Lessey (London) – he became President of the Wesleyan Conference in 1839.

This is a rectangular, brick building with flat–headed windows – those on the south side are replacements. At some time it was extended on the east side (present entrance), thereby increasing the size by about a third and the seating to (a recorded) 120. It is said that the original doorway was on the north elevation and, above it, the (extant) datestone: Wesleyan Methodist Chapel 1833.

It was in 1859 that a chapel steward, Job Wilson, encountered clerical intolerance, and not for the first time. Already denied Christian burials for four of his children – as each had been baptised by a Wesleyan minister – he took issue with the vicar of neighbouring Gedney Hill (where he lived) for refusing to allow his fifth child a Christian burial in the churchyard. It was through the good offices of the Rev John Joll, Superintendent Minister, that the matter was satisfactorily resolved with the Bishop of Lincoln. The parish priest then grudgingly obliged but still refused the tolling of the church bell. Nationally, it was far from being the only such occurrence, coming only a few years after the Gedney burial scandal and its legal implications.

On a happier note, the first wedding in the chapel’s history took place in 1964, some 131 years after opening.

It was a member of the relevant Spalding circuits until the formation of the South Holland circuit in 2000.

During the centenary celebrations in 1933, a minister described this place as “the spiritual home of a large and devoted band of workers”. The band is not so large these days; but a few devoted workers still keep their spiritual home open.

Sources include the Stamford Mercury 4th February 1859.

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