Chapter XXIV.


The first place of worship in Sutton stood in Low Street, opposite to the Bank of Messrs. Barclay & Co. and was marked in its gable facing the street with a circular stone having on it " Methodist Chapel 1812," now built into the interior wall of the Outram Street Chapel.

Its erection was due to Geo. Knighton, Saml. and Hannah Coldwell, Sarah Burton, Wm. Robinson, Mary Giles, Mary Bower, Eliza Allfrey, Eliza Osborne, Wm. Robinson, junr., Eliza Power, John & Eliza Ward, Thomas & Catherine Renshaw, Wm. Hollingworth, Catherine Sansom, Eliza Heywood, Wm. Goldwell, Sarah Elliott, Thos. & Lydia Burrows, Wm. Alvey, Wm. and Rebecca Hawkesworth, Ann Briggs, Thos. Power, Ann Butterworth, Saml. Ellis, Wm. Fox and Mary Green.

With regard to the site no entry is to be found in the Copyhold Court of the Manor of Mansfield till 18 July, 1819, when Thomas Hanesworth of Blidworth assigned it to Samuel Matthews of Oxton, and Saml. Allen of Calverton, farmers, and these three surrendered it to John Heath of Blidworth, John Jerrom, Jno. Brewster of Ratcliffe, Thos. Cooper Angrave, of Leek, Jos. Lomas of Nottm. Wm. Neep of Epperstone, and Henry Cowlishaw, Surgeon of Mansfield, in trust for persons appointed at the yearly conference of people called Methodists. The next surrender was made 30 July, 1844 when the surviving Trustees passed it to John B. Lomas of Sneinton, Jas. Stanhope, brazier, Wm. Bonser, draper of Sutton-in-Ashfield, John Smedley, of Fulwood, wheelwright, Richard Needham, brazier of Sutton-in-Ashfield, David Lloyd, of Ripley, and Saml. Mee, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, potter.

On 3 July, 1868 on an application to the Charity Commissioners an Order was made discharging the surviving Trustees and appointing George and Robert Alcock, Geo, Fish, Wm. Henry Heane, and Wm. Swift, all of Mansfield, Chas. Bowmar, of Kirkby, Thos. Hollingworth of Edwinstowe. Wm. Cook of Farnsfield, Saml. Slaney, and Saml. P. Wightman, of Annesley Woodhouse, and J. E. Foster of M. Woodhouse, Trustees.

On 2 October, 1882, these Trustees surrendered the Chapel and two adjoining houses to Mr. William Taylor ; the tenants of the latter being Mr. Jas. Hepworth, butcher, and J. H. Stenson. The foundation stone of the new Chapel in Outram Street was laid 7 November, 1882, and it was opened 29 May, 1883. The schools adjoining were commenced 10 September, 1889, enlarged and opened 9 August, 1896.

Amid all the evil and distress of the eighteenth century, John and Charles Wesley, both Clergy of the Church of England, by the powerful preaching of the one, and the inspiring hymnody of the other brought the religious revival to light that revolutionized the whole of Christendom. This revival seems to have been first brought to Mansfield by John Adams who preached the first sermon in Mansfield Market Place in 1788. There is no account of the first missioners to Sutton, nor of how the thirty-one members of 1814 were ministered to. It seems clear that to Thomas Hanesworth of Blidworth who, on 12 October, 1807, became the first Steward of the Circuit was due the turning of one of the cottages in Low Street into a Chapel in 1812. During the financial crisis of 1819 he gave over his undertaking to the Trustees mentioned.

Local preachers served for many years. T. Royles of Sutton, 1823, Geo. Buckland 1829, James Stanhope 1840, H. Farrand 1844, Wm. Bonser 1846, G. Buckland, junr. 1856, and T. Cousin. In 1851 T. Hollingworth, in 1856, — Limb in 1870 B. Baugh and W. Fletcher, 1873 J. Thornton, in 1876 W. Tyler, 1892 T. Musson, R. Mitchell, and — Legg, and in 1898 G. A. Spencer, all of Sutton.

So far as any records of the work in Sutton are concerned the most interesting (certainly to the writer) are those commencing in 1838 when William Bonser came from East Bridgford to live in Sutton. He at once took up the work and being musical and deeply religious soon became a leader, his Class book for 1843 being still extant and the names of the eighteen members show some whose descendants occupy honourable positions in Sutton today (1934).

Another most interesting man was Mr. Richard Needham who also became a Class Leader, his son, the Rev. R. R. Needham becoming Vicar of Christchurch, Hampshire.

The plan made by William Bonser for the cleaning and lighting of the chapel by members in turns, another plan for the attendance at Sunday School, also in turn, and another plan for attendance at mission services at Fulwood, all in most delicate and beautiful penmanship are still extant. Mr. Bonser became a local preacher in 1846, and was most active and heartwhole in the work, and in his private diary may be seen the fervent piety of his life.

But in 1849 came the great upheaval in Wesleyan Methodism caused by the expulsion of Ministers for carrying on an agitation for reform which, sad to say, they carried on " not always courteously nor candidly," and they were followed by a hundred thousand members, who eventually became known as the United Methodist, Free Church.

The effect in Sutton was disastrous, the unity and harmony of the congregation was destroyed, and though attempts were made to keep together the rift widened. Some left and joined the Primitive Methodists, Mr. Richard Needham joined the Independents, Mr. James Stanhope and Mr. William Bonser acceded to the old Church in England. For many years the feeble remnant was kept together by Mr. — Brailsford, Mr. — Watson, Mr. Thos. Hollingworth, Mr. John Castle and Mrs. Crompton. Attempts were occasionally made to revive interest, one in 1860 by a well-known Preacher, Mr. Richard Hook (or Weaver). But no impression was made on the people of Sutton. The cause was not dead, but slumbering, and since the removal to Outram Street it has become once again an active source of religious life.

An interesting note of the connection of the Founder of Wesleyan Methodism with Sutton is the fact that when the Rev. Thomas Cursham, Vicar of Annesley, commenced a school on High Pavement, in 1784, he received a letter from the Rev. John Wesley (still in possession of the family) approving the venture, adding "such a school is much needed."