Goxhill Methodist Building - Goxhill Gander

Spring 2024
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Written by Kees van den Bos
The Methodist Building in Goxhill

A booklet of this information was first published to help raise monies for the repair of the Primitive Methodist Chapel which opened for worship in March 1892.

It was also offered as a small tribute to those Methodists of the 19th century who by faith and hard work raised five Chapels, a Sunday School and a Day School in the village of Goxhill. It was also hoped that the story would encourage modern Church members to continue what their forebears began and maintain the last surviving Methodist Chapel.

It is not known exactly when Methodism came to Goxhill but Wesley himself preached in several nearby towns and villages, in particular he visited Barrow in 1761, 1764, 1766, 1770 and 1772. In the Humberside Archives at Grimsby, the 1769 list of members of the Grimsby Methodist Society survives; which includes 19 members at Goxhill, four men and 15 women. John Ablewhite heads this list and a Mary Hardy appears, a family name that will figure more prominently later on.

The first mention of a building being used as a place of worship is found in a Dissenter’s Certificate of December 3rd 1787 (Lincolnshire Archives). In it the Goxhill members inform the Bishop of Lincoln: “that the Barn of William Barton situated in the Church End of Goxhill is set apart and appropriated as a Place of Religious Worship.”

All the signatories are men.

By 1802 the Goxhill Society had 31 members and in the following year 1803 they again notify the Bishop of Lincoln saying this time: “that the Chappell of Goxhill is set aside for worship”.

Exactly where this first Wesleyan Chapel was built is not known but a very brief description of it occurs in an interesting account of a visit to the village dated 13 November 1826 by Major General Loft, one of the Duke of Wellington’s Generals at Waterloo. He says: “There is also a Methodist Meeting House. Brick Walls and covered with Tiles.”

Perhaps this first Chapel was similar to the first East Halton Chapel of 1805, a simple rectangular brick building with a hipped roof and still standing at the corner of Main Street and Kettlebridge Lane.

During the first few years of the 19th century, disagreements arose in the Methodist Church nationally, particularly over the holding of large open air Camp Meetings. Matters finally came to a head in 1818, resulting in Hugh Bourne and William Clowes being excluded from the Church. These two with others soon formed the Society of Primitive Methodists and a first Chapel was built at Tunstall in the Potteries in 1812.

William Clowes came to Hull in 1819 to continue his Ministry and according to his Journal (published in 1844) he says: “In 1820 crossing the Humber I preached at Goxhill, Barrow and Ulceby and the Word was effectual.”

Indeed the Word was effectual for on November 12 1824 the following account appeared in the Stamford Mercury, which was the county newspaper of the day: “On Sunday last, a new Chapel was opened for divine worship by the Primitive Methodists, at Goxhill, near Barton on Humber. Two excellent sermons were preached on the occasion, by Mr & Mrs Suddards. Although the weather was unfavourable, the congregations were large and the collections liberal.”

Major General Loft has a fuller description of this Chapel which was, of course, more recently built than the older Wesleyan Chapel. “In Goxhill is a Chapel of the primitive Methodists. Brick Walls covered with Tiles, it is 32 ft.9 long 23 ft. broad ___ high outside, has a Door Way in the End ___ high ___ wide. A large sash window on each Side,____ high ____ wide each, with two square sash windows in the ___ End, one on each Side the Pulpit: in the inside it is pewed and has a Pulpit. It is cieled.” (General Loft left the spaces for the measurements to be filled in, but unfortunately he omitted to do so)

Again from William Clowes’ Journal, 1838: “August the 19th Brother Harland and I preached at the opening of a new Chapel at Goxhill… I officiating in the afternoon. About the year 1823 we built a Chapel in this place; but having become too small, it was taken down and the new one was erected. After Brother Harland’s morning sermon £7 was collected. I thought this amount would not be equalled at either of the following services; but to my astonishment the afternoon’s collection was £20 and the evening’s £13, rendering the day’s produce £40. Nor was this the only result of our toil; for the Lord was powerfully present to bless those people who heard us.”

This second Primitive Methodist Chapel, erected only 14 years after the first one, also proved to be too small; C Kendall reporting in the Primitive Methodist Magazine of July 12 1894, for the Barton Circuit, writes of Goxhill: “Here our interest is strong and growing. The Chapel debt has been liquidated this last year and the Chapel is now in the process of enlargement. A Good School House has recently been hired and a tolerably good school organised. Praise God.”

It says a great deal for the commitment of these Primitive Methodists that as soon as the debt had been wiped out they embark on a programme of enlargement, the debt having lasted 16 years.

From these accounts it seems that these Primitive Methodist Chapels occupied the same site; this is shown on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1886 to be behind the garden of Spring Garth, Chapel Street, with access from both Chapel Street and North End.

Meanwhile, the Wesleyans had also been engaged in Chapel building. A deed dated 31 August 1829 indicates a new Wesleyan Chapel, the original trustees being

Richard Faulding Gentleman now Lincoln

Thomas Pearson South Ferriby

Joseph Young Machine Maker Goxhill

John Davey Draper Goxhill

Thomas Allinson Carpenter Goxhill

Wm Alfred Burkinshaw Farmer Goxhill

The now disused Wesleyan Chapel on the Main Street has a date-stone 1828 in a roundel at the south gable. This second chapel was enlarged in 1859 when a further piece of land was purchased and a new larger date-stone was placed prominently on the north front facing the street. Alas this has been needlessly defaced.

The 1828 Chapel together with the final enlargement can be readily seen on the East Wall of the present building. Both at the Northern and Southern ends of this wall, straight lines of brickwork appear with a larger size of brick being used in the added sections. Although the street end was only extended by five feet nine inches, a good quality brick with fine joints in Flemish Bond was used giving a much improved entrance with gallery above. Using a local brick in English Bond 5 at the bigger extension
towards the rear gave the Chapel an Organ and Choir loft with a vestry room beneath.

1828 Chapel – 36 feet 6 inches long; 32 feet 6 inches wide

1859 Chapel – 58 feet long; 32 feet 6 inches wide.

However, the Wesleyans were concerned with more than Chapel building, some of their members being interested in the religious education of their children, for in 1840 they built a substantial school room which still stands at the corner of Chapel Street and Main Street.

A deed for the adjacent property, ‘The Hollies’, dated December 5th 1849, talks of “parts of an ancient meadow boarded on the East being lately sold by Wm Ewson to Charles Pilfoot and to the Trustees of the Wesleyan Sunday School.”

The date-stone above the door is hardly legible but it reads SABBATH SCHOOL 1840.

It is in 1855, however, when the local Wesleyans began their largest undertaking, the building of a Wesleyan Day School. In spite of some opposition, work goes ahead and by the end of that year the school, consisting of school rooms, master’s house and playgrounds was completed at a cost of £866, £360 being granted by the Committee of Council on Education and £35 from the Wesleyan Education Committee, leaving just over half to be found locally.

The land for the School, 1,078sq-yds was purchased from Charles Burkinshaw at a cost of £90 by the following:

John Lands Barrow Farmer

John Davey Goxhill Draper

John Simon Goxhill Farmer

Wm Alfred Burkinshaw Goxhill Farmer

Robert Goodman Goxhill Farmer

Joseph Young Goxhill Blacksmith

Thomas Allison Goxhill Joiner

These seven then convey the land to themselves and these others:

Wm Rodgers Barton Bank Manager

Wm Waddington Ferriby Farmer

Wm Bygott Ulceby Farmer

Edward Walker Ulceby Farmer

Joseph Ranson Kirmington Grocer & Draper

John Robinson Barrow Farmer

Richard West Barrow Cordwainer

The deed is dated March 10 1856.

Some information about the two Chapels can be found in the 1851 Census of Religious Worship which was taken on Sunday March 30th and, for the first and only time, gave the estimated attendances at the various places of worship.

The Wesleyan Return signed by their steward John Davey, a grocer, says: “Public Service twice every Sabbath always in the evening and alternatively morning and afternoon; the Chapel has 224 seats, of which 44 were free; the estimated attendance in the morning 65 with 94 Sunday Scholars and 70 at evening service.”

“The Primitive Methodists have 200 seats of which 50 were free with an estimated attendance of 150 in the evening.” The return being signed by John Hardy, steward.

The total population of the village was 1,138 of which 220 attended Methodist evening service with 94 Sunday Scholars at the Wesleyan morning service.

In the main Census John Hardy lists a 27-year-old Primitive Methodist Minister Thomas Whitehead as a visitor at his home, no doubt the preacher for that Sunday.

Since every house is mentioned in the enumerator’s returns for the Census, one sees that the Marsh district of the village is gradually becoming peopled, not only with farmers and their workers, but with brick makers working in the first Goxhill Brickyard situated at the Haven.

The number of brickyards and workers continues to grow toward the end of the century and the Humber Bank is three miles from the village and its places of worship. The Primitive Methodists see the need for a Chapel to be built in the Marsh and in 1875 they erect a small Chapel at on the north side of East Marsh Road about a quarter of a mile from the Haven.

This little Chapel was demolished some years ago; all that remains is the broken date-stone. Its windows were of the lancet Early English style like those of the sides of the present Primitive Methodist Chapel.

The Ordnance Survey Map of 1886 also records a Primitive Methodist Chapel or building just inside the Goxhill Parish at the East Halton Skitter brickyards, but no other mention of this building has been found.

Primitive Methodism seems to be going from strength to strength for by 1891 they are again building; this time a major Chapel on an important site and not at the back of someone’s garden as their earlier ones.

A brass plaque inside the present Chapel gives the details: “This Chapel was erected at a cost of £1,400, the foundation stone laid 24 June 1891 and completed 1892.”


J Hardy GJ Dent John Hewitt

W Blackburn Geo Drinkall Jos Procter

J Blackburn Wm Dunwell W Rodgers

RJ Border T Hardy G Sanderson

Robt Border JW Hardy GH Shearwood

C Creasey W Hewitt Wm Smith

IG Smith WR Turner


T Tanfield CG Milson

J Stamp Builder Barton

T Brownlow Thompson Hull Arch.

W Hewitt, one of the Trustees, was a carpenter in the village and helped to build the Chapel, a fact recalled by his two granddaughters Mrs Brierley and Mrs Blackburn, both of this village.

This 1892 Chapel is large and airy, 36 feet wide by 64 feet long with a large school room at the rear 32 feet long and 22 feet wide with originally a small vestry on one side of it and a kitchen on the other. There is also a vestry at the South side of the front of the Chapel. The side windows of the Chapel are pairs of lancets, six pairs on the North side and four on the South; whilst the West end facing the road consists of one huge triple window with some stained glass. This window really brings the story full
circle, the plaque below it reads: 
“In memory of Thos Hardy and Martha his wife many years members of the Primitive Methodist Society in this place”

“This window is erected by their sole surviving son Joseph Hardy. March 1892.”

These were members of that same family as the Mary who is on the first Methodist Society list of 1769.

In Joseph Hardy’s account book of 1888-96, appears this entry for Oct 24 1892: “Chapel Window £15 - 2. - 6.”

Other entries of interest are:

“March 2 1893 Seats at Chapel £1 – 10 – 0.

July 2 1894 Chapel seats £2.

Feb 13 1894 Bought old P.M. Chapel Goxhill. Paid as deposit £2.

June 29 1894 Sold old wood (Chapel) £7 – 5 - 3.

July 2 1894 P.M. Chapel paid for £20 – 3 – 2.”

Inside the Chapel whilst the pulpit and most of the pews remain unchanged, some alteration has taken place in the entrance. Formerly entrance was from both doors directly into the inside with pews going back in the centre right under the West window. And of course the colour scheme and wall decoration has changed. My own personal memory is of the text written in gothic lettering around the pointed arch moulding behind the pulpit:


I wish to thank Mr Rex Russell for his help in overseeing the production of this booklet and for the art work involved. He has also been very generous for many years in supplying me with information and sources of our village history.

Kees van den Bos

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