The friends of Woodsetton, like many other pioneer Methodist groups, started with cottage meetings in the vicinity. The principals being:-
The forerunner of the present Woodsetton Church is difficult if not impossible to accurately trace. There was such a building erected in the 1800's, and although there is no accurate information on the exact erection date, there is evidence from the Charity Commission of an indenture between Eleanor Mercer and the Rev. John Simpson, plus eight others, dated 17th October, 1828. The eight others were probably:-
On the 12th April, 1843 the Chapel purchased for £2. 10s. 0d. a small plot of land (34sq.yds.) at the rear of the building. The vendor was a Mr. John Gibbons, and this increased the land size to 202 sq.yds.
From a Pew Rent Book dating from 1851 it is obvious the Chapel's finances were mainly raised by means of pew rents, and as severe depression was evident in Coseley at that time, the majority of the people were very poor and therefore chapel rents hard to find. There was no such help as the present day National Health Service, Social Security Benefits or Pensions, and the most used Chapel Fund was the 'Poor Fund', now called the Benevolent Fund. This was given to people who were truly destitute and the money used to buy food.
The building was called Coseley Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and was situated in Thumpers Lane. This lane lay a little to the west of the old Coseley windmill where the present Chad Road Service Station now stands. The building was typical in design of chapels of the time with a central pulpit, floor and gallery seating, and sparse adornment. Lighting was by oil lamps, but it is not known what type of heating, if any, was used. The Chapel's 'paying seats' were 42 upstairs and 48 downstairs, and the cost per seat was 1s. 2d. This rent was paid quarterly and totalled approximately £10. 0s. 0d. per year. Not all the seats were taken at any one time.
William Benjamin Dennis,
Richard Alexander Mason.
It is not known if there was a separate Sunday School building but the Superintendent Minister, the Rev. John Hutchinson Norton, reported around 1880 that there were 200 Sunday School children to be catered for in the new building.
According to the Title Deeds, the Coseley Chapel belonged absolutely to the Trustees, so much so, they could sell the Chapel or give it away if they so desired. In 1880 the Chapel was damaged beyond repair due to subsidence from the nearby Earl of Dudley's opencast mining operations at Claycroft Colliery, and even though the building was unsafe, before anything could be done the consent of all the Trustees had to be obtained.
There were 24 old trustees, some had died, some moved, and some had even gone abroad. Solicitors were employed and an application made to the Charity Commissioners for permission to sell the old Chapel and use the proceeds to help pay for the new building. Until the problem was resolved no claim for compensation could be made. Wesleyan Chapel Committee was approached to help with the expense of a new church and this they refused to do until the Trust Deed was altered so that the new trustees became responsible to and ruled by the Methodist Conference.
This question was first raised by the previous Superintendent Minister, Rev. C. Crump, but it was not pursued until 1881 when the new Superintendent Minister, Rev. John Hutchinson Norton wrote again to the Chapel Committee. There was no change in attitude of the Committee and therefore Rev. J.H. Norton, aided by Mr. Samuel Lees Millington, worked extremely hard to resolve the problem,. By the 3rd of November 1881 only fourteen trustees had been traced, these were:-
The Charity Commission removed and discharged "as ceasing to act as a trustee", or "ceasing to reside in Britain":-
William Hipkins, Smethwick. Wine & Spirit Merchant
Daniel Hipkins, Tipton. Butcher
Joseph Flavell, Coseley. Bully Collier
Simeon Richards, Coseley. Iron Worker
David Hall, Bloomfield. Furnace Builder
Samuel Turley, Coseley. Grocer
Richard Alexander Mason, Roseville. Hoop Roller
Samuel Eynon, Princes End, Tipton. Turner
Henry Nicklin, Smethwick. Commercial Clerk
Robert Elton, Tipton. Printer
Edward Hipkins, Tipton. Butcher
John Flavell, Roseville. Charter Master
* Samuel Lees Millington, Coseley. Ironmaster
* Mr. Millington also acted as Secretary and Treasurer.
Considerable time elapsed before the present site could be obtained from the Earl of Dudley for the sum of £225, and, in the main, services continued to be held at the home of Mr. Flavell in Parkes Hall. Eventually, after resolving the difficulties in obtaining the land, an architect, Charles Round Esq. of Tipton, was engaged to design the present Chapel and Schoolroom, the architect's fee being £50. 0s. 0d.
The builders were John Jones & Sons, Ettymore Road, Sedgley, who won the contract by being the lowest of six tenders, and the cost of the school, chapel and outbuildings was £841.
The schoolroom was built first and the single storey chapel soon afterwards. They seated 200 and 265 people respectively, and for this reason the chapel was known to everyone as "The Little Chapel". Both buildings are of brick and in the Gothic style of architecture (pointed arch style prevalent in churhces during 12th-16th Century). The bricks were hand-made and supplied by T.G.Austin, Wellington Brick Works, Tipton, Staffs. All the windows were originally of plain glass with the exception of the two over the main entrance, which were of stained glass.
In the very best tradition of Victorian etiquette, commemorative stones were laid soon after work commenced on the Chapel and Sunday schoolroom. The two Sunday school memorial stones were laid on Monday, 31st July, 1882 at 3 p.m. Miss S.E. Groucutt of Tettenhall, Wolverhampton and Mrs. Henry Tunniclift of Wolverhampton, laid one stone each on either side of the Sunday school entrance. On the 28th August, 1882 the memorial stones of the chapel were laid; two on the right and two on the left of the entrance. Mr. Edward b laid the first stone, Mr. Joseph Flavell laid the next stone, Mr. Wm. Hipkins (of Leamingon) laid the third stone and Mr. S.L. Millington laid the fourth stone. The school was officially opened on Sunday, 17th September, 1882.
As the chapel proceeded, 33 blue bricks bearing the names of financial contributors to the building fund were also built into the chapel wall. These were the little people of Woodsetton, the humble folk, but nevertheless, their love for "The Little Chapel" was real and deep. They gave what they could, left their brick, and quietly went their way. Their names were:-
Sarah Jane Flavell, (two bricks)
Joseph Fellows Flavell,
Joseph Flavell Jnr.,
John H. Flavell,
Zibiah E. Fellows,
K. Gertrude Fellows,
Mrs. David Fellows, Jnr.,
David Fellows, Jnr.,
Simeon Richards, Jnr.,
The total cost of both buildings, boundary wall, wrought iron gates, outbuildings and furnishings was £1,620. 12s. 10d. A further 12 blue bricks were also built into the main vestibule porch, and these bear the names of:-
Photograph courtesy of Dorothy Turley website owner of Christ Church, Coseley Homepage
Letters and conversations passed between the Minister, solicitors and the builder, and it seemed agreed that the new chapel would not be ready by December 4th, but those old Wesleyans were determined folk and on the 2nd December the building was registered as a place of worship, and three days later the Chapel was opened. On Tuesday, 5th December, 1882, during the reign of Queen Victoria, Woodsetton Methodish Chapel was consecrated to the Lord.
One month after the opening, on January 3rd, 1883, the first baby was baptised - Thomas James Allen became a well known local man and he served Woodsetton well. The Chapel was not licensed for marriage initially, and therefore no weddings took place for some time.
On 4th July, 1919 the chapel was licensed for the solemnisation of marriages. The first Woodsetton wedding was between Miss Ethel Elwell, elder daughter of the Trust Treasurer, and Mr. Joseph Pitkeathley. It was held on 30th July 1919, the officiating Minister being Rev. Joseph Kewley. It was decided that in accordance with Methodist custom a Presentation Bible and Hymn Book should be given to the first couple. Woodsetton did not have a chapel safe and therefore the Dudley Registrar had to be present at each wedding to record the details and return all documents to the Dudley Registrar's Office. On 1st February 1925 the first wedding took place at Woodsetton without the attendance of the Registrar. This was between Edward St. Clair Wall, aged 22 years, an underground coal miner, and Miriam Turley, aged 19 years, a pen nib cutter. Both resided in Regent Street, Woodsetton and the marriage service was conducted by Rev. R.C. Oliver.
Jean Langdell has also kindly supplied the following photographs of Woodsetton Sunday School Anniversary that were both taken in 1959. The first one is the Primary Anniversary and the second one is the Senior Anniversary.
Top Row: 1st - Helen Vanes, 3rd - Jean Pargeter (me), 4th - Gloria (?)
2nd Row: 4th - Karen Legge - 6th - Peter Vanes, 8th - Robert Legge.
3rd Row: 2nd - Janet Andrews (my cousin), 3rd - Jane Vanes.
Front Row: 7th - (?) Legge.
(All the children with the surname Vanes are siblings as are the Legge children.)
Secondary: from left hand side:-
2nd Row: 3rd - Helen (?), 4th - Francis (?)
3rd Row: 2nd - Gloria (?), 8th: Patricia Knight
Front Row: 7th - Linda Rudd, 9th - Jean Pargeter (me)
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