Methodst Hdr
Methodist Church

During the early part of the nineteenth century Ivybridge found it difficult to appoint a chaplain and at times St. Johns Church was without anyone at all, largely due to very low remuneration. Worshippers were giving up paying the rent for their pews and this was money which the procurement of a chaplain depended upon. Local people were complaining that this was causing many to drift away to the Wesleyan movement. A local schoolteacher, Miss Powell, who lived in Fore Street where she provided a small school, also complained that there was nowhere for her children to attend Sunday School.

 

During this difficult time the Wesleyans in Ivybridge established their own chapel on a piece of ground in the village close to Miss Powell’s house. Sir John Rogers, Lord of the Manor, had provided the plot of land in 1812 for the building of the Methodist meeting house or chapel. This original site is now called Chapel Place. The Methodist Chapel was registered on 13 January 1813 with the Bishop of Exeter. The building seated 120 people at a time when the population of Ivybridge was about 1,000 in total.

William Sherwell  ‘The first Methodist in Ivybridge’

William Sherwell will always be remembered as the driving force in building a Methodist Chapel in Ivybridge. He was a shopkeeper and preacher. He also became the first superintendent of the Sunday school in 1812. A memorial to William exists in the present Methodist church to the right of the altar.

In 1860, John Allen, the owner of Stowford Paper Mill, along with other members of the congregation, rebuilt and enlarged the chapel at a cost of around £900. It was recorded that the construction did not involve the assistance of a professional architect but rather Mr Patterson, the chief engineer at Stowford Paper Mills, whilst the building work was undertaken by men employed at the same establishment. It provided seating for 300 on the ground floor with additional room for 100 children in a gallery. By now the population of the parish had reached 1,700. A plaque with the date 1860 was added to the front façade.

Chapel Place
The first chapel and plaque

At first the enlarged chapel seemed to be quite adequate for the needs of the Wesleyan congregation but John Allen, now a wealthy businessman, was determined to give the Wesleyans at Ivybridge a worthier ‘local habitation’ and a more important name. To this end he offered to build a new chapel at his expense. The design of the building was entrusted to Messrs. Norman and Hine, who were given considerable latitude regarding the appearance. It was estimated that the building would cost £4,000 with an additional £1,000 required for the site. The building was to be pure Gothic style and designed to accommodate 500 people, around a hundred more than the present chapel. It was to be built of limestone with Portland dressing, and the interior of the chapel was to be ‘beautifully ornamented, and efficiently ventilated and lighted’.

The most notable feature of the building was to be a church tower around 100 ft high and similar to one on the Methodist building at Torquay which had received great acclaim.

 

The final cost amounted to a sum of £6,000 which was met entirely by the Allen family. Alongside the church, John Allen had already built a row of ten cottages in the 1850s which provided accommodation for workers at the paper mill. Allen, a devout Methodist expected these families to attend church in return. These properties are referred as ‘Allen’s cottages’ even today.

At first the enlarged chapel seemed to be quite adequate for the needs of the Wesleyan congregation but John Allen, now a wealthy businessman, was determined to give the Wesleyans at Ivybridge a worthier ‘local habitation’ and a more important name. To this end he offered to build a new chapel at his expense. The design of the building was entrusted to Messrs. Norman and Hine, who were given considerable latitude regarding the appearance. It was estimated that the building would cost £4,000 with an additional £1,000 required for the site. The building was to be pure Gothic style and designed to accommodate 500 people, around a hundred more than the present chapel. It was to be built of limestone with Portland dressing, and the interior of the chapel was to be ‘beautifully ornamented, and efficiently ventilated and lighted’.

The most notable feature of the building was to be a church tower around 100 ft high and similar to one on the Methodist building at Torquay which had received great acclaim.

 

The final cost amounted to a sum of £6,000 which was met entirely by the Allen family. Alongside the church, John Allen had already built a row of ten cottages in the 1850s which provided accommodation for workers at the paper mill. Allen, a devout Methodist expected these families to attend church in return. These properties are referred as ‘Allen’s cottages’ even today.

Methodistrear

The ceremony of laying the memorial foundation stone of the new church took place on 15 July 1874. Many Wesleyans from Plymouth attended along with the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr Alfred Rooker.

 

Prominent Wesleyans of Ivybridge were also present including William Sherwell and the Allen family. John Allen Jnr gave a speech expressing his gratitude to the people of Ivybridge explaining that ‘the present building was to be raised for the promotion of the worship of God, and not with any idea of entering into competition with any evangelistic bodies represented in the town’. Mrs Edward Allen was then presented with an inscribed silver trowel by the two architects and the memorial stone was declared ‘well and duly laid’.

 

A speech from the Mayor, Mr Rooker, congratulated Ivybridge on the acquisition of such a valuable building and of possessing such generous inhabitants as the Allen family. Following the ceremony, the party adjourned to Mallett’s Assembly Rooms, the colloquial name for the London Hotel. A public tea was held, and it was ‘probably the most numerously attended tea meeting that had ever been held at Ivybridge, upwards of 300 people’.

The Methodist Church and Allen’s Cottages

Stained Glass Windows at the Methodist Church

The Allen family’s significant contribution to the Methodist Church is recognised in several of the stained- glass windows.

 

The Nave window above the front door is filled with grisaille work as a memorial to Mrs Allen. It carries the inscription “In memory of Elizabeth, wife of John Allen, who died 9th of September 1875, aged 74 years”.

 

The Transept Window, installed in 1880, is made of antique or ‘muff’ glass. The window bears the inscription on the lower edge, “In memory of John Allen who died 17th October 1877 age 76 years”. Whilst this records that he was 76 he was in fact 75 having been born in February 1802. The memorial windows were made in Bristol by Hall and Sons, Glass merchants.

 

The Chancel Window, with its slender disengaged shafts, is filled with rich stained glass in a geometric pattern, with Agnus Dei in the centre light. These later windows were all made by Hall and Sons.

 

John and Elizabeth Allen had two sons, John and Edward and three daughters, Amelia, Elizabeth and Julia. Their youngest child Julia, and at the age of 26, married Alfred Hall, a 22-year-old glass merchant from Bristol. The marriage took place at Plymouth in 1866. Alfred Hall was a family member of the same glass company Hall and Sons of Bristol.

Hall and Sons, Bristol

Alfred Hall, like Julia his bride, came from a strict Methodist family. His father, Samuel Romilly Hall, was a Methodist minister who travelled far and wide to promote the religion. Alfred and his older brother, John Wesley Hall, were involved in the family business with their grandfather, also called John Wesley Hall. The origins of the company are recorded in the 1860s journal of Hall and Sons, now at the Bristol Records Office.

 

The article states:

The founder of the company was John Hall, a country boy from Beaminster, Dorset, who became apprenticed to a glazier in Broadmead during the late 18th Century.

 

During his apprenticeship young John travelled to various parts of the country on contracts, broadening his outlook and experience. This was a period when travelling was infrequent for the majority of most people. On the last night of his apprenticeship, he locked up his master’s shop for the last time. The next morning he returned with a legacy from his father, a yeoman farmer, long saved for such a day….. and he purchased the business! The firm commenced business as glaziers in 1788, and flourished rapidly. The company excelled in the cutting and etching of glass. It became the major importer, processor and supplier of glass throughout the West of England. Bristol contains a number of stained glass windows and the City Corporation has one inscribed “John Hall, 1766”…

A modern photograph of the Methodist Church courtesy of Ivybridge Camera Club

The church is often considered by visitors to Ivybridge to be the Anglican church given its size and proximity to the centre.

 

In 1937 a new school room was built at the east side of the church. The granddaughter of William Sherwell, Miss C.C. Sherwell at the age of 89, laid the foundation stone, everyone agreeing that her presence was a fitting tribute. The Sunday school children had used the old chapel up until that time, it was considered the oldest chapel in the Plymouth Ebenezer Circuit. The old chapel later served as a magistrate’s court and even Ivybridge Town Hall.

 

The interior of the Methodist Church was extensively renovated in 1993 with an upper floor being added, whilst a new glass entrance was created to encourage new worshippers. The pews were replaced by chairs soon afterwards. The church is now classified as a Grade II listed building.

Reference:  Pamphlet – Sharing Life Sharing Faith, Ivybridge Methodist Church

The Methodist Church
During the early part of the nineteenth century Ivybridge found it difficult to appoint a chaplain and at times St. Johns Church was without anyone at all, largely due to very low remuneration. Worshippers were giving up paying the rent for their pews and this was money which the procurement of a chaplain depended upon. Local people were complaining that this was causing many to drift away to the Wesleyan movement. A local schoolteacher, Miss Powell, who lived in Fore Street where she provided a small school, also complained that there was nowhere for her children to attend Sunday School.
During this difficult time the Wesleyans in Ivybridge established their own chapel on a piece of ground in the village close to Miss Powell’s house. Sir John Rogers, Lord of the Manor, had provided the plot of land in 1812 for the building of the Methodist meeting house or chapel. This original site is now called Chapel Place. The Methodist Chapel was registered on 13 January 1813 with the Bishop of Exeter. The building seated 120 people at a time when the population of Ivybridge was about 1,000 in total.

William Sherwell  ‘The first Methodist in Ivybridge’

William Sherwell will always be remembered as the driving force in building a Methodist Chapel in Ivybridge. He was a shopkeeper and preacher. He also became the first superintendent of the Sunday school in 1812. A memorial to William exists in the present Methodist church to the right of the altar.
In 1860, John Allen, the owner of Stowford Paper Mill, along with other members of the congregation, rebuilt and enlarged the chapel at a cost of around £900. It was recorded that the construction did not involve the assistance of a professional architect but rather Mr Patterson, the chief engineer at Stowford Paper Mills, whilst the building work was undertaken by men employed at the same establishment. It provided seating for 300 on the ground floor with additional room for 100 children in a gallery. By now the population of the parish had reached 1,700. A plaque with the date 1860 was added to the front façade.
 At first the enlarged chapel seemed to be quite adequate for the needs of the Wesleyan congregation but John Allen, now a wealthy businessman, was determined to give the Wesleyans at Ivybridge a worthier ‘local habitation’ and a more important name. To this end he offered to build a new chapel at his expense. The design of the building was entrusted to Messrs. Norman and Hine, who were given considerable latitude regarding the appearance. It was estimated that the building would cost £4,000 with an additional £1,000 required for the site. The building was to be pure Gothic style and designed to accommodate 500 people, around a hundred more than the present chapel. It was to be built of limestone with Portland dressing, and the interior of the chapel was to be ‘beautifully ornamented, and efficiently ventilated and lighted’. The most notable feature of the building was to be a church tower around 100 ft high and similar to one on the Methodist building at Torquay which had received great acclaim.
The final cost amounted to a sum of £6,000 which was met entirely by the Allen family. Alongside the church, John Allen had already built a row of ten cottages in the 1850s which provided accommodation for workers at the paper mill. Allen, a devout Methodist expected these families to attend church in return. These properties are referred as ‘Allen’s cottages’ even today.
The ceremony of laying the memorial foundation stone of the new church took place on 15 July 1874. Many Wesleyans from Plymouth attended along with the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr Alfred Rooker.
Prominent Wesleyans of Ivybridge were also present including William Sherwell and the Allen family. John Allen Jnr gave a speech expressing his gratitude to the people of Ivybridge explaining that ‘the present building was to be raised for the promotion of the worship of God, and not with any idea of entering into competition with any evangelistic bodies represented in the town’. Mrs Edward Allen was then presented with an inscribed silver trowel by the two architects and the memorial stone was declared ‘well and duly laid’.
A speech from the Mayor, Mr Rooker, congratulated Ivybridge on the acquisition of such a valuable building and of possessing such generous inhabitants as the Allen family. Following the ceremony, the party adjourned to Mallett’s Assembly Rooms, the colloquial name for the London Hotel. A public tea was held, and it was ‘probably the most numerously attended tea meeting that had ever been held at Ivybridge, upwards of 300 people’.
The Allen family’s significant contribution to the Methodist Church is recognised in several of the stained- glass windows.
The Nave window above the front door is filled with grisaille work as a memorial to Mrs Allen. It carries the inscription “In memory of Elizabeth, wife of John Allen, who died 9th of September 1875, aged 74 years”.
The Transept Window, installed in 1880, is made of antique or ‘muff’ glass. The window bears the inscription on the lower edge, “In memory of John Allen who died 17th October 1877 age 76 years”. Whilst this records that he was 76 he was in fact 75 having been born in February 1802. The memorial windows were made in Bristol by Hall and Sons, Glass merchants.
The Chancel Window, with its slender disengaged shafts, is filled with rich stained glass in a geometric pattern, with Agnus Dei in the centre light. These later windows were all made by Hall and Sons.
John and Elizabeth Allen had two sons, John and Edward and three daughters, Amelia, Elizabeth and Julia. Their youngest child Julia, and at the age of 26, married Alfred Hall, a 22-year-old glass merchant from Bristol. The marriage took place at Plymouth in 1866. Alfred Hall was a family member of the same glass company Hall and Sons of Bristol.

 

Hall and Sons, Bristol

Alfred Hall, like Julia his bride, came from a strict Methodist family. His father, Samuel Romilly Hall, was a Methodist minister who travelled far and wide to promote the religion. Alfred and his older brother, John Wesley Hall, were involved in the family business with their grandfather, also called John Wesley Hall. The origins of the company are recorded in the 1860s journal of Hall and Sons, now at the Bristol Records Office.
The article states:
The founder of the company was John Hall, a country boy from Beaminster, Dorset, who became apprenticed to a glazier in Broadmead during the late 18th Century.
During his apprenticeship young John travelled to various parts of the country on contracts, broadening his outlook and experience. This was a period when travelling was infrequent for the majority of most people. On the last night of his apprenticeship, he locked up his master’s shop for the last time. The next morning he returned with a legacy from his father, a yeoman farmer, long saved for such a day….. and he purchased the business! The firm commenced business as glaziers in 1788, and flourished rapidly. The company excelled in the cutting and etching of glass. It became the major importer, processor and supplier of glass throughout the West of England. Bristol contains a number of stained glass windows and the City Corporation has one inscribed “John Hall, 1766”…

 

The church is often considered by visitors to Ivybridge to be the Anglican church given its size and proximity to the centre.
In 1937 a new school room was built at the east side of the church. The granddaughter of William Sherwell, Miss C.C. Sherwell at the age of 89, laid the foundation stone, everyone agreeing that her presence was a fitting tribute. The Sunday school children had used the old chapel up until that time, it was considered the oldest chapel in the Plymouth Ebenezer Circuit. The old chapel later served as a magistrate’s court and even Ivybridge Town Hall.
The interior of the Methodist Church was extensively renovated in 1993 with an upper floor being added, whilst a new glass entrance was created to encourage new worshippers. The pews were replaced by chairs soon afterwards. The church is now classified as a Grade II listed building.

 

Reference:  Pamphlet – Sharing Life Sharing Faith, Ivybridge Methodist Church.