Historic Neithrop Chapel to hold its final service

Neithrop Chapel which is holding its final service on August 21. NNL-160816-112925001
Neithrop Chapel which is holding its final service on August 21. NNL-160816-112925001

A chapel which has been running for nearly 130 years will be holding its final service on Sunday.

The foundation stone for Neithrop Chapel was laid on December 27, 1887 following a donation of land, and £200 from William Mewburn, a member of Marlborough Road Methodist Church.

The chapel has been a base for Sunday School and community activities throughout its history.

The final service will be led by Superintendant Minister, Rev Lin Francis, at 3pm, followed by tea and cake until 5.30pm. Anyone who has had an association with the chapel either as former members of the congregation, Sunday school, or fellowships is invited to the service.

Congregation member, Valerie Gainsley, said the congregation at the chapel would be joining forces with the new Fairway Methodist Church for services.

She said: “We are going out rejoicing that we have had so many years at the chapel.

“People will have memories of their time at the chapel and we hope people might bring along photographs.”

It only took three-and-a-half months to complete the chapel, at a cost of £373, five shillings and six pence, which included the wooden seats.

It used to hold mutal improvement classes, which helped local people to improve skills such as reading and writing, one evening a week.

Starting in 1888, women’s meetings were held and in the same year, from May 6, the chapel started holding Sunday school. It soon had nearly 100 scholars and 17 teachers and during the Second World War welcomed a number of evacuees.

One of those evacuees, Margaret Jarvis, was sent to Neithrop from St John’s Wood in London at the height of the Second World War, at the age of three.

Mrs Jarvis was adopted by the family which took her in, the Mold family, when she was 11. She remembers going to the Sunday school at the age of five.

She said: “There were 100 children at the Sunday school. The family who adopted me ran the church for several years.

“We had Sunday school in the morning, then another one between 2pm and 3pm and then a church service.

“Everyone was very friendly and it was nice to have somewhere to go. The chapel made sandwiches and cakes for children and the local children thought nothing of it, but the evacuees thought it was quite something.”

Her daughter chose to get married in the chapel, which had to get a wedding licence especially for the occasion.

Mrs Jarvis said: “The wedding was quite a modest one – she didn’t want any fuss or bother. As a family we had always been to the church. Both my daughters had been to Sunday school there from the age of three. They stayed and one became a Sunday school teacher.”

The local Methodist circuit will make a decision on the chapel’s long-term future.