In 1861, the Rev Wesley Hurst had been invited into the circuit to serve at
Into the 20th Century
The 20th century witnessed equally dramatic developments to both buildings and grounds. In 1907 the trustees received a letter stating that -
"the committee of the Newstead memorial hereby offer to erect..... a handsome lamp.....in memory of the two Miss Newsteads. We propose that it be placed in the middle of the grass plot immediately in front of the chapel" -
and thereby was added a feature which has enhanced and dominated the exceedingly pleasant appearance of the chapel frontage to this day.
Equally warming, though in a rather different sense, was the replacement of the old boiler by a new and more powerful unit in 1908 and at least three replacements were to follow during the century. The exterior of the chapel was normally painted every five years, long ladders being employed for the purpose.
From 1914 to 1918, with the men away at war and the women employed coping with large families, little change took place in so far as the fabric was concerned and upon the cessation of hostilities the first mention of post war action was that the stewards were asked "to pay for tacks to hold down a carpet on the occasion of the Guild Rally in 1918" !
The next significant event as regards the facilities, or so it would seem from the time spent discussing the matter, was the question of the use of the 'preachers toilet' by persons other than the intended. It was finally agreed that ladies should be allowed access to the hallowed chamber, but that men and boys should continue to use the outside closets. It was not until 1935, some 15 years later, that the outside conveniences were converted from earth closets to WCs at a cost of £44-16-6.
The original plot of land had included the area now occupied by the GPO, Surgery and private house. Various land transactions took place between the wars and in 1945 the large area to the west of the graveyard was let to Mr Schneider for use as a nursery.
1941 was marked by the removal of iron railings for the 'War Effort', by the letting of the paddock to the "West Riding CC" for an air raid shelter although a request to hold a wartime canteen, run by the County Council was turned down. Lack of manpower to maintain trees and hedges led to the planting of the beech hedges and once more references to air raid insurance and blackouts appear in the minute books.
The last 50 years
The war years had taken their toll. Materials were in very short supply and only essential maintenance was possible. However, the trustees were not idle and plans were afoot to keep abreast of the changes that population mobility and the upgrading of the Great North Road were to bring.
In 1963, land was conveyed to the GPO with the restriction that it was "not to be used for manufacture, distribution, or for the sale of liquor, nor for a public dance hall or for betting or gambling". The High St. paddock, which at one time sported a wayside pulpit, had two fine horse-chestnut trees, one of which was blown down during a storm. A scheme to sell the land to a property developer and build a modern worship centre in the paddock failed, largely due to the complexities involved in dealing with a Methodist graveyard. In the event, the sale of the paddock for a surgery was completed in 1986.
In the 1960s the frosted windows were replaced by double glazed clear glass, fluorescent lighting quadrupled the luminescence and one pew was removed from the front as were the side pews. The replacement with carpet of the coconut matting which lined the aisles, prompted one elderly member to comment, "if it was good enough for my father it's good enough for me" - it was, after all, only thirty years old! At the same time, the remaining pews were chemically stripped and re-varnished with polyurethane. Shortly afterwards, the organ pipes were removed for a complete overhaul costing over £2000.
The schoolroom was also to receive attention. On August 16th, 1969 the village was struck by a freak storm. Water from the High St. flooded down Spa Lane and entered the building through the side door and lay to a depth of about 3 inches. The kitchen, now known as the Epworth room was severely damaged and all the lino had to be removed. Although the water drained away fairly quickly it caused wet rot in the corner of the Wesley room and a concrete section had to be laid. A little later, the two fireplaces which stood on either on either side of the arch (as yet undiscovered) were removed and a stage built.
By the mid 1980's, the schoolroom was looking somewhat drab, the external toilets were rarely used and the vestry toilet was the sole internal facility. The kitchen was plumbed in lead although the local firm of George Moore Ltd had kindly supplied new kitchen units some 15 years earlier. The Wesley room had been panelled to a height of 3 feet in the 1860s as a means of hiding the damp and inflorescence on the stonework and the plasterwork was in need of attention. Removal of this panelling and of the stage revealed the stone arch which features so prominently today. Conversion of the Epworth room, the replacement of one of the central supporting pillars by a steel joist and the introduction of lightweight folding doors allowed for the main schoolroom to be extended or for a temporary stage to be erected.
To the west of the chapel there stood unmarked graves for children and external toilets, converted to water closets at the turn of the century. Permission was granted for re-internment although most of the grave area remains around the single remaining yew tree and in 1986 the smart new entrance, toilets and kitchen were built.
Heating and lighting.
Both the temperature on Sundays and the lighting gave rise to much comment almost from the first day up to the installation of new heating and new strip lighting in the 1970 -80 period. It is unclear as to when the heating was first installed. Coal was readily available by virtue of the North Eastern Railway Co who had coal depots at
In the middle of the 19th century, a cartload of coal delivered by the N E Rly Co cost 8s-3 (41p) although wood was also used in considerable quantities. When the Gas Works opened in 1867, the coal and wood was supplemented by coke which would have been used for the boiler.
All classes and the
The first modifications were made to the heating system in 1859 and two years later the schoolrooms were "closed for repairs, water apparatus fixing, cleaning and repainting at a cost of £113-4-8. " This included the sum of £5, voted for hire of "
In the early days illumination was poor since the chapel was lit by oil lamps and rush lights. Paraffin at 5s-9 per gallon was prohibitively expensive and it is doubtful if the average collection would have bought a canful. However, these Victorians were not to be defeated and in an effort to keep up with their fellow Methodists in Leeds, they accepted an offer submitted by the British Portable Gas Apparatus Company and set about manufacturing their own gas for lighting the chapel. However, it appears that they were ill advised and the plant failed to realise its expectations and they were forced to wait until the Gas Works was built in Gas Works Lane. Fortunately, they did not throw out the oil lamps and in due course the Chapel Steward was asked to "do his best in the matter of disposing of the oil lamps".
In 1928, a power cable was laid down Spa lane at a cost of £18-16-1 and electric lights and an electric organ blower were installed by the Yorkshire Electricity Company for £67-8-0 The first bill was £4 - 4 - 6 for lighting and £4 -0-5 for the 3-phase blower. By 1949 this had fallen to £1 -3 -3.
Trustees and finance
Unlike today, where the trusteeship is held centrally by the
The trustees kept detailed accounts which present a fascinating picture of life in the 1860s. The following are extracted from the trustees account book:-
Pew rents £35 - 18-0
Rent from Sunday School £3-0-0
Rev J Bownas - "Chapel sermons" £10-5-2
2 sermons by Rev Wm Hudson £8-0-10
Chapel entrance box 4s-41/2
Charge to 6 society classes for coal £2-2-6
Oil (refined rape) £2-3-0,
Rushlights 61/2d, Sweep 2s-0 Coke 9s-3,
Wicks 2s-0, Snuffers 1s-0,
Tadcaster Gas Co for cinders 8s-3 Matches 11/2d
Turpentine 8d Baskets & chips 3s-8
Recasing of Bible 4s-6 Repair of hymnbooks 9p
Door mat 6s-0 Soap 1s-6
Clock cleaning 1s-6, Clock string 6d
Kids and shavings 1s-0 Organ blowing 1s-3
To Henry Wincup for water & carriage 3s-0
Chapel keeping and glass cleaning (lamps) £10
Brass candle stands £2
Singers pew allowance £2 The Misses Gills interest £6
Chapel license 2s-6 Fire Insurance £1-2-6
Inspection of water apparatus 10s-0
For use of Gambles Court house for 13 weeks during alterations £5-0-0
Inevitably, the financial burden weighed heavily upon them and much time and effort was spent in balancing the books. This did not however, prevent them from realising their responsibilities to the circuit and the Wesleyan Connexion. In 1867 the annual accounts record:
Quarterly payments (circuit assessment) £12-0-0 per year
General Chapel Fund £1-1-0
Day school subscription £1-0-0
Theological Institute (Minister training?) £1-1-0
Worn out ministers fund £1-1-0
Theological Institute (Headingley?) £1-1-0
General Chapel fund £1-1-0
They never defaulted on these payments and in acknowledgment of a loan from The Wesleyan Chapel Committee in Acomb St , Manchester, they promised "to repay by instalments and not to borrow, nor to charge upon the trust estate". In fact, they met the debt by instituting a system of pew rents, (a method which was to produce considerable income until 1953) and furthermore they promised not to keep any surplus but to pay it to the circuit or to the connexion. Pew rents typically raised 50% of the annual trust income but with a large number of "free pews" they relied heavily upon Sunday collections and upon a somewhat unreliable, though lucrative, source of income, namely - 'ground lettings'. Notwithstanding the necessity to remain solvent, the trustees frequently demonstrated a generosity of spirit typical of which was a resolution in 1863 that "Rev Robert Newstead (supernumerary) and Mrs Dicken (widow) be allowed to occupy their pews free of charge"
'Ground lettings' permitted the erection of memorial stones in the graveyard and were the source of much debate in trustees meetings. Graveyards are relatively rare in Methodism and are not subject to the same legal requirements as are the cemeteries of Anglican Churches; in fact the law is rather unclear in this area, a fact which has caused much heart ache for trustees over the past 150 years. Nevertheless, the original purchase of a plot, much larger than the building required, did provide a valuable source of income as well as "frequent incursions of cattle due to the deplorable state of the fence". The main burial area was within the parcel of land in front of the main chapel entrance, the portion between the chapel and Spa Lane being set aside for the poor and that on the western side (where the kitchen now stands) being designated for stillborn and infant interments.
Fees for graves were as follows:-
Grave digging - 5 ft deep 4s-0 10ft deep 14s-0
Burial charges - Stillbor 2s-6 Child 10s-6 Poor 15s-0
Internment in the main burial ground:
Purchase of ground 7ft-6in by 3 ft wide £1-1-0
Internment at 6 ft deep 10s-6 for each extra foot 2s-6
For permission to: Brick 2s-6
Erect a headstone 10s-6
Place a flat stone £1-1-0
Erect a monument £2-2-0
Palisading To be agreed
All inscriptions to be approved before lettering
Finance was by no means the only responsibility held by the trustees. They appointed the leaders, choirmaster, organist and caretakers, maintained the property, and made arrangements for all special services. They also expressed the thanks of the society to Ministers who were about to leave to take up further appointments. It is evident that upon at least one occasion, this expression of gratitude was not felt by the whole body of trustees and it would appear that certain dissenters boycotted part of one such meeting. The secretary to the Trust was left with the difficult task of recording the event in the minutes. He apparently decided that the best way was to appear somewhat confused. Accordingly he wrote:-
"Conversation re Rev Richard Heap leaving the place - the valuable aid he has rendered the trust - the great loss the society will sustain by his removal and did not obtain that formal expression of acknowledgement that was desired, before another body of trustees entered the room to commence another trustees meeting. But considering the matter honestly as to the real intentions of the trustees performing their duty in this case, the steward thought it might convey the same by a letter to Mr Heap."
One wonders as to the contents of that letter!
©Boston Spa Methodist Church/A W Faulkner