Dersingham Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Norfolk

Photo: D Secker
Photo: D Secker
Photo: D Secker

The first Wesleyan chapel in Dersingham was probably the one referred to by the Methodist Times in 1890: “Half a century ago a strong Wesleyan cause existed in a converted cart shed at Dersingham. It was extinguished in the agitation of 1849.” In all likelihood, this was the building sold in 1856 and described as “a building used as a Methodist chapel”. It stood on a plot immediately to the north of the 1851 New Connexion chapel on Manor Road.

The circumstances leading up to the building of the new chapel were given in a brief account by the Rev DW Barr at the stone laying ceremony in 1890:
   It is about forty years ago that a Wesleyan cause flourished in the village, but afterwards through the differences arising at the agitation it was eventually taken up by the Methodist New Connexion, who for several years carried on the work until about five years ago when the pulpit was supplied chiefly by Baptist and Wesleyan local preachers. This was found to work unsatisfactorily and the resident minister, the Rev H L Thompson, on behalf of the New Connexion Conference, made overtures to the Wesleyans to take over the cause.

Agreement being reached, the chapel was placed on the Wesleyan circuit plan, and this arrangement continued until the arrival in 1888 of William Stephen and his “commendably aggressive” superintendence of Lynn’s New Connexion circuit. Determined to breathe new life into a floundering circuit (which he did), he reined in its wayward members and gave Dersingham Wesleyans notice to quit, hence their new chapel.

Standing on Post Office Road, it was erected at a cost of £240. Architect was JA Hillam of Lynn, and the builders Messrs Chambers & Sons of Dersingham. Built in the pointed Gothic style, of carrstone with brick buttresses and quoins, it had seating for around 150. Guest preacher at the opening was the Rev Charles Kelly, President of the Wesleyan Conference.

The chapel of the New Connexion closed in 1913. Following Methodist union in 1932, both chapels here (ex-Wesleyan and the ex-Primitive)remained open; their merger in 1962 led to the closure of the old Primitive.

This former Wesleyan, now Dersingham Methodist Church, is still open for services and events.

Sources include:
Lynn News 1st March 1890
The Methodist Times 20th March 1890
Lynn News 24th March 1890
Methodist Church Buildings: Statistical Returns 1940

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