Methodist Chapel

The 1851 Church Census describes an ‘Independent Chapel’ being erected on this site in about 1810. The chapel features in the 1838/9 tithe records as a ‘Meeting House’ owned by trustees – declared in the names of Ed Hickman and John Webster.

The 1851 Church Census, taken on Sunday 30th March 1851, also described the afternoon and evening services having attendances of 70 and 19 persons, respectively. The average attendance was desribed as ‘uncertain’. Under ‘remarks’ are the words: No stated Ministry but supplied by different unpaid preachers and kept up by voluntary contributions. The entry was signed by William Muskett Delf, acting as one of the local preachers with the sanction of the Trustees, East Carlton, Norwich.

County Directories make further reference to an Independent Chapel in Wreningham from the 1870s onwards.  Later Directories make reference to both Congregationalists and Methodists having a chapel.

Here is further information from the late 1800s:

A newspaper report in 1892 for Wreningham describes how the Methodists wished to create a Sunday School.  The friends subscribed funds and, in April of the same year, a Sunday School was opened ‘under promising circumstances’”’ and 35 children took part.

In April 1901, Mr A W Soames MP and his wife visited the Methodist group in Wreningham with a  Mr Knights being in the chair.  There was a discussion about the international situation. The Boer War (South Africa) had been an ongoing concern over several years.

There is a further newspaper report from March 1906.  The Quarterly meeting of the Wymondham circuit was held at Wreningham within which it was noted that attendance in all the churches in the Wymondham circuit had increased.  Tea was served by Mr & Mrs Arthur Morse. He was the relatively new tenant farmer at Hill House Farm – having been appointed by landlord John Bullimore, not long before his death.  – A replacement chapel was planned for Wreningham at a projected cost of £400. – Foundation stones for the new Wreningham chapel would be laid on Whit Monday on the site of the old building.

On the 6th June 1906, a large number attended from the surrounding area including Mr A W Soames MP.  A number of stones were laid – each stone associated with a separate financial donation.

The ceremony was followed by tea in a marquee erected at Hill House Farm and hosted by Arthur Morse.  There were about 400 people present.  After tea, everyone was entertained in the meadow by the Forncett Brass Band led by bandmaster Fryer.

This was followed by an evening meeting with speeches with Arthur Morse “in the chair”.  Hymns were sung by school children and a Mrs Green from St Ives was at the organ.  The event raised £81.  Including the money already in hand, they were now £130 towards their £400 target.

Later in 1906, on 9th November, the new Methodist Chapel was opened.  It had been constructed by Skipper & Bartram and Mr Blazey from Wymondham.  Mrs H G Stone of Wymondham unlocked the door and gave a short speech. This was followed by a service conducted by the Rev J W Venables; the Rev G P Clarke then gave a sermon.  Tea was served in a marquee erected by Arthur Morse at Hill House Farm.

In 1907 there was an event to raise the final funding for the new building.  This took the form of a grand bazaar which was held at Hill Farm on 18th May – made available by Arthur Morse.

A Wreningham Christmas event is recorded from 9th January 1909.  The entertainment was provided by superintendent Arthur Morse.  There was a Christmas Tree with presents with a festive appearance in the schoolroom.  This was followed by a service with a large congregation at the chapel in the evening.

The Wreningham Methodist Chapel closed its doors for the last time in November 1996.

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