was the first Methodist in Ivybridge. A memorial exists to him in the present church. He was a preacher as well as a businessman, tailor, chemist, haberdasher, grocer, cutler and draper. The shop remained within the family after his death.
There are no records of the first 40 years of the church’s life and the earliest documents come from the Sunday School Minutes in September 1851. These reveal that the Sunday school started in 1811, perhaps meeting in a room.
In 1911 a medal was produced and given to the Sunday school children to commemorate the first 100 years.
In 1812, Sir John Rogers provided a plot of land in Ivybridge for the building of a Methodist meeting house or chapel. This was
“fix’d to be built at the head of dirty lane (which was to be improved) just below William’s House towards Miss Powell’s Backside”.
This “lane” is now Chapel Place. The Methodist Chapel was registered on 13th January 1813 with the Bishop of Exeter, by William Sherwell and others. The building seated 120. In the 1851 census, congregations were counted on Sunday March 30th in all places of religious worship. At Ivybridge Wesleyan Chapel these were 72 in the morning, 65 in the afternoon, 90 in the evening and 24 Sunday school scholars. The population at the time was about 1,000.
The name Sherwell is still used as a second Christian name by family members today.
First Methodist in Ivybridge