St John's Methodist Church, Elsecar, South Yorkshire

Extracts from 'A Short History', including Baptisms 1848 to 1952

Original author unknown

Copy obtained from Mrs. Joyce Walker,  a Sunday School
pupil and Member at St. John’s Church.

[Additions in square brackets from comments of Roger Thorne, Methodist District Archivist]

{Additions in these brackets from comments by Dr. E. Dorothy Graham, Connexional Archivist}

Foundations

In 1841 the foundation stone of the Wesleyan Chapel at Elsecar was laid by Revd. [Thomas] Edwards [Senior] [Wesleyan Methodist Superintendent from 1840 to 1843] of Rotherham [Circuit]. There is no official record of the date when the chapel was opened, but I have been told that July 1842 was the date, and that the dedicatory service was preached by Reference [Revd. Thomas] Jackson who was [Past] President of the Conference [1838 – 1839] in that year. Previous to this time, the Gospel was preached by Wesleyan Methodist preachers in the old cottage near the L.N.E.R. Station, at that time tenanted by a Mr. William Hardy. I should think that this would be the old cottage in which Mr. William Bowden lived, the one close by the gas works.

 The first records in connection with our Church are the receipts for pew rents, the first entries being made in November 1842; the charge for one sitting was 7.5d, and according to the book, the total number of pews in the Chapel was 12, and the number of seats in each pew was 10.

 Extracts from the first deeds, now at Wath (presumably Wath-upon-Dearne), show that the land on which the Chapel was built was not bought until after the building had been opened, for they are dated November 1842, and the land was bought from Samuel Hobson at a cost of £20. 15s. 6d. The following were the first trustees:- Samuel & Hannah Hobson, Joseph Wigfield, Henry Darwin, John Sykes, Samuel Thornsby, Thomas Green, John Harris, Richard Rhodes, Henry Pullen, Edwin Law, Joseph Utley, Thomas Kay, William Hardy and Thomas Edwards., all residents in the parish of Wath. More land was bought in the year 1862 at a cost of £5. 10s. 0d and the Chapel was enlarged in the year 1864.

 In 1868, a Sunday School room was built over the Vestry, the actual cost is not stated, but the Trustees borrowed the sum of £64. 0s 0d from four of the members. At this time the Assessment to the quarter board was £1. 10s  0d per quarter. The harmonium player received 10/-d per quarter, and the Caretaker who was evidently a coal carter received the sum of £2. 10s 0d per year for cleaning the Chapel and carting the coals.

 In the same year, 1868, the Trust funds must have been in a poor way, and a series of efforts, teas, and the freewill openings, realised the sum of £100. 18s. 10d for the reduction of the debt. According to entries in the Treasurer’s Account Book for 1869 it would appear that Mr. George Pullen of Elsecar built the Sunday School rooms over the Vestry in the previous year.

 {The 15th Annual Report of the Wesleyan Chapel Committee 1869, shows ‘Elsecar, S, Enlt. in Wath Circuit, Cost £60, Debt – none.}

 [In 1873, Elsecar is listed as a Wesleyan Chapel with 240 seats.] (Matches with being part of Circuit based at Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Church, Wath-upon-Dearne.)

In the year 1874, a new pulpit was built in the Chapel. At this time the income from the pew rents was about £20.00 per year.

Building Projects

 In March 1877 at a special Trustees Meeting, it was decided to buy more land from Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Hobson, and to lease a portion of land from Earl Fitzwilliam, the cost of the land was £12. 19s. 9d.

 The Trustees decided that the Chapel should be enlarged and that new School Rooms and a new Vestry be built. The proposed alterations were brought before the Quarterly Meeting at Wath-upon-Dearne and carried unanimously. The Wesleyan Chapel Committee at Manchester sanctioned the scheme with the proviso that the cost of the building, land and legal charges not to exceed £1,000.00.

 Building commenced in the same year (1877), and the Chapel and School Rooms were completed and the building opened on Thursday 28th February 1878, the Rev. Fredk. H. Briggs {M.A.} [Wesleyan Methodist Superintendent of Carver Street Circuit] of Sheffield being the preacher at the dedication service.

 The final cost was £1,237. 4s. 6d, the total amount of the gifts, subscriptions and promises being no less than £648. 0s. 10d., which included such items as, a widow 3d. The amount raised by collections at the opening, and special services amounted to £95. 16s. 8.5d., other items £6. 5s. 8d., the remaining £487.00 being raised by loans from various people in the district and members of the Society at Elsecar.

 Among the items of expenditure was one to the Committee of the Wentworth Parish Church for the cost of the organ, taken from the old Church £85. 2s. 0d. The organ was taken down and rebuilt by Mr. Hold, organ builder of Sheffield at a cost of £45.00. (See page regarding this special organ).

 An interesting item in the opening ceremonies was a sermon and lecture by Dr. Newton & the Revd.Peter Mackenzie {a Minister in the Leeds Wesley Circuit} when no less than 308 persons paid 1/- each to attend the lecture. The debt of £487 was gradually paid off by various efforts, the bazaars appearing to be the best source of income, the income from one bazaar being £165.

 No further additions or alterations were made to the building until the partition wall was taken out between the two vestries and made into one in the year 1915.

 The next addition to the Trust property was the purchase of the School Hall from the West Riding County Council at a cost of £50.00, but the cost of dismantling, carting and rebuilding was about £200.00. The Hall was opened by Sir John and Lady Quamby in March 1934, the land on which the hall stands was bought from the Wentworth Estate (i.e. Earl Fitzwilliam of Wentworth, South Yorkshire) for £30.00 in the year 1935.

 The year 1939 was a sad year for us, for owing to the roof giving way, the Church had to be closed being considered unsafe. We are all conversant with the way we overcame these difficulties, the Church was re-opened in March 1941 the cost of alterations being over £300.00, but this debt was cleared off within one year of the re-opening, a free waill opening (free will offering ?) at Easter realising the sum of £180. 0s. 0d.

 {Statistical Returns of Accommodation show as follows:-

1931-2    332 seats Wath-upon-Dearne Circuit Sheffield District
1940  197 seats  – do –    Doncaster & Barnsley District
1963  191 seats in Chapel Wombwell & Hoyland Circuit Sheffield District
90 seats in S. School
1973  177 seats in Chapel  – do –      – do –
86 seats in S. School
1980  212 seats CLOSED  – do –     – do – }

 It seems a great pity that we missed celebrating the centenary of our Church at Elsecar, but I think we can all look back with pride and joy on the work that has been done by Methodism in the past 100 years of the history of Elsecar.

 Notes

 [Roger Thorne suggests that the ‘Wesleyan Reform’ title is a mistake – a confusion of facts relating to two separate chapels. The 1905 O.S. map shows the Wesleyan Reform Chapel to be in Church Street and St. John’s to be off Wath Road at the end of Reform Row. Roger suggests to look at deeds for a start. Would these be in safe at Wath Trinity ? I can check this! – Except that I haven’t been back to Wath-upon-Dearne since to be able to do so.]

 Spelling and other corrections being made by Edward Whorton Wilkinson in memory of his Grandfather, Albert Edward Wilkinson J.P. C.C., Local Preacher (1899) and Sunday School Superintendent from about 1938 to about 1948, and his Grandmother Clara Wilkinson, nee Whorton, who was Baptised at St. John’s in 1876.

“My Grandad was the Sunday School Superintendent. He was also a Local Preacher and Class Leader in Church as well. Outside Church he was a local Councillor, a County Councillor, Chairman of Governors at a girls Secondary Modern School at Kirkbalk, Hoyland and at work was the men’s check weighman – that is at Elsecar Main Colliery he checked the weight of coal dug by each of the miners, against the measured weight given by the owners weighman.”

 N.B. – It would seem odd if Albert E. Wilkinson went to a Wesleyan Reform Church, but his son William W. Wilkinson who was a Trustee, etc. at Wath Trinity from 1935, which was a Wesleyan Methodist Church.

What are the ‘way we overcame these difficulties,’ in 1939 after the roof became unsafe ?
E.W.W.          1997

 BAPTISMAL  RECORDS

 ELSECAR WESLEYAN – 8 June 1848 to 5 February 1900

1855 Fanny  d  John Mary Ann Rose  Elsecar
1856 Annice  d  John Mary Ann Rose Elsecar
1963 Albert  s  Charles & Elizabeth Rose
1868 Julia  d  Jonah & Mary Wharton (later spelt Whorton)
1872 Jonah  s  Jonah & Mary Wharton
1874 Sarah  d  Jonah & Mary Wharton
1875 Joseph  s Jonah & Mary Wharton B  Tipton Staffs  B 1865
1876 James Henry Jonah & Mary Wharton
1879 Clara  d  Jonah & Mary Wharton
1882 Samuel  s Jonah & Mary Wharton
1883 Joseph  s  Joshua Clara Walker
1886 Mabel  d  David Annie Wharton
1886 Sarah Ann Samuel  &  Beatrice Wharton
1887 Tom  s  Wilfred Ann Walker
1889 Frank Wilfred Ann Walker B   1888
1890 Leonard  s  David & Annie Whorton
1890 Rowland William & Caroline Wilkinson
1891 Clara  d  Wilfred Ann Walker

ELSECAR WESLEYAN – 20 March 1900 to 1979

1900 Mary Elizabeth  d  James Henry Alice Mildred Whorton
1901 Clara David Annie Whorton
1904 John Franklin James Henry Alice Mildred Whorton
1906 Mary Elizabeth  d  Samuel Emily Whorton
1907 Irene Maud James Henry Alice Mildred Whorton
1909 Contance Margaret  d  John Willie Agnes Anna Whorton
1911 Barbara Mary  d  John Willie Agnes Anna Whorton
1913 Dorothy Leonard Annie Elizabeth Whorton
1915 Una Ethel Jams Henry Alice Mildred Whorton  B   1914
1915 Ethel  d  Samuel & Emily Whorton
1915 Mabel Doreen Leonard Annice Whorton
1916 Audrey Mildred James Henry Alice Mildred Whorton
1937 Michael Bingham Fred Betty Walker
1939 Carole Ashley Fred Betty Walker
1942 Ruth Ann Fred Ruth Walker
1947 Joan Christine Walter Vivian & Joyce Walker
1952 Alan Vivian Walter Vivian & Joyce Walker

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