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St. John's Methodist Church, Elsecar, South Yorkshire A SHORT HISTORY

[Additions in square brackets from comments of Roger Thorne, Plymouth & Exeter Methodist District Archivist] {Additions in these brackets from comments by Dr. E. Dorothy Graham, British Methodist Connexional Archivist}

by Edward Wilkinson.

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 Reverend [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 Trinity Methodist Church at 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. 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 additional 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 will 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.

Originally written by ??
Copy obtained from Mrs. Joyce Walker of 103, Strafford Avenue, Elsecar, a Sunday School pupil and Member at St. John's Church.

[Roger Thorne suggests that the 'Wesleyan Reform' title (now removed) 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! Eventually!]

Spelling and other corrections being made by Edward Whorton Wilkinson in memory of his Grandfather, Albert Edward Wilkinson J.P. C.C., Local Preacher (Accredited in 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.

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 is the 'way we overcame these difficulties,' in 1939 after the roof became unsafe ?

E.W.W. 1997

Pipe Organ from St. John's Methodist Church, Elsecar and the old Wentworth Parish Church, South Yorkshire.

In the late medieval church of Haringhuizen, Holland, stands a classic English village organ from the 1840's.

Around 1845 the Fifth Earl Fitzwilliam gave an organ to the old (Parish) church in Wentworth. So far no information of the timber used has been found in the archives of the Fitzwilliam family which was one of the four richest families in the UK. It is possible that this organ was made by G.F. Heald of Sheffield, as in 1850 they were asked by the Fifth Earl Fitzwilliam to make an organ for his own private chapel.
1860 The upkeep of the organ was in the hands of Brindley and Foster of Sheffield.
1873 A Bourdon 16' was added to the pedals.
1877 The Sixth Earl Fitzwilliam gave Wentworth a new village church where a Father Willis organ was placed.
When the old church was closed for services and certain parts of it dismantled, the organ was given (actually it cost £30.00) to St. John's Wesleyan Church in the nearby village of Elsecar.
The organ was installed there probably by William Holt of Sheffield.
1979 St. John's Church was closed and the organ was bought by an organ buyer from Bala (Wales) and roughly broken up.
1981 The organ was in a state of ruin before being bought by Gerard Verloop of Schagen (Holland). Christopher C. Dickens, organ maker of Spofforth (Harrogate) was commissioned to restore the organ.
1983 After restoration of the pedals was completed, the organ was placed in the church at Haringhuizen (Herv. Willisbrorduskerk) and repainted in the original colours.
Great Organ, GG-f ' ' ' Swell Organ, klein f-f ' ' ' Pedal, C-f '
Open Diapason Open Diapason Bourdon
Stopped Diapason Stopped Diapason
Dulciana Principal
Principal Oboe
Fifteenth Manual coupler
Pedal Coupler
Also see local newspaper articles

EWW 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 the surname is spelt as Whorton)
1887 Tom s Wilfred & Ann Walker
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 [ baptised as adults, parents of Clara Wilkinson nee Whorton, and great grandparents of EWW ]
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 d. Samuel & Beatrice Wharton ?
1889 Frank s. Wilfred & Ann Walker B 1888
1890 Leonard s David & Annie Whorton
1890 Rowland s. 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 d. David & Annie Whorton
1904 John Franklin s. James Henry & Alice Mildred Whorton
1906 Mary Elizabeth d Samuel & Emily Whorton
1907 Irene Maud d. James Henry & Alice Mildred Whorton
1909 Constance Margaret d John Willie & Agnes Anna Whorton
1911 Barbara Mary d John Willie & Agnes Anna Whorton
1913 Dorothy d. Leonard & Annie Elizabeth Whorton
1915 Una Ethel d. James Henry & Alice Mildred Whorton B 1914
1915 Ethel d. Samuel & Emily Whorton
1915 Mabel Doreen d. Leonard & Annice Whorton
1916 Audrey Mildred d. James Henry & Alice Mildred Whorton
1937 Michael Bingham s. Fred & Betty Walker
1939 Carole Ashley d. Fred & Betty Walker
1942 Ruth Ann d. Fred & Ruth Walker
1947 Joan Christine d. Walter Vivian & Joyce Walker
1952 Alan Vivian s. Walter Vivian & Joyce Walker

While looking over the previous comments by Alex Fleming about Newhill Hall, I noted that he said, "By then the Hall was already badly affected by mining subsidence (ironic, as local coal royalties had been an important source of family wealth)." But I have to disagree with this statement. I was employed by Wath-upon-Dearne Urban District Council as an Engineering Learner under their Engineer & Surveyor William Eric Haigh MICE MIMunE and I carried our a detailed survey of each floor of the Hall as well as the roof spaces with their lead lined rain water tanks, and saw no great damage by mining subsidence which I most certainly would have noticed. When many houses were being damaged by mining subsidence, I became quite an expert in differentiating between windows damaged by children's balls which parents had to pay for, and damage caused by mining subsidence which the NCB paid for. Edward Wilkinson
Written and transcribed
by Edward Wilkinson