Part 1

New Porch 2004


Theses are the data at the records office.

Primitive Methodist
Christenings 1856 – 1938

Wesleyan Methodist
Births, C 1796 – 1837
Deaths 1803 – 1807

Wesleyan Methodist, Stockwell Head
Marrages 1903 – 1969

Wesleyan Methodist Circuit
(Mostly Stockwell Street)
Christenings 1796 – 1940

METHODIST (PRIMITIVE), ‘EBENEZER CHAPEL’ 1854 New Buildings/Leicester Road. This chapel was originally built in 1802 for the Particular (or Strict) Baptists (Nichols, Leicestershire, 697):

‘The Particular Baptist Meeting House at Hinckley, Leicestershire, will be opened on Wednesday June 1st, 1803. Worship to begin at Half past Ten o’clock…’ (Leicester Journal, 20 and 27 May 1803).

After fifty years as a Particular Baptist meeting house, it was purchased, in May 1854, by the Primitive Methodists for £280 and partially remodelled (the porch was probably added at this point). The original Particular or Strict Baptist congregation returned to a former meeting-house in Mansion Street; built Zion Chapel, Trinity Lane in 1886, from whence in 1974 they moved to a new church in Mount Road.

The Primitive Methodists had ‘visited and relinquished’ Hinckley several times before acquiring this permanent base in the town. For example, a lively camp meeting had been held in 1844: ‘Some of the inhabitants received us favourably; but, speaking of the greater part of them, I think I never saw a people more opposed to the gospel. The enemy of souls appeared to have almost entire sway over them, especially over the young. But his strong-holds, thank God, are now giving way. We have rescued from him fifteen person; and though some of these were once very profligate, they are now ornamenting their Christian name with a holy life. The ignorance of which several of them were the subjects previous to their conversion, is almost incredible. One, who is a husband and father, did not know, three months ago, that he had a soul, and was equally ignorant of all scriptural truth. What a blessing that the eyes of his understanding have been opened! The work of the Lord is still going on among the people, and we are hoping to see it mightily extended in every direction’ (Primitive Methodist Magazine (1845), 112).

There is a photograph of this chapel at the county record office. See also A. J. Pickering, The Cradle and Home…, 52ff, which includes a drawing by Cicely Pickering (above) showing a simple stuccoed building with round-arched windows and a projecting porch with pediment supported on attached pilasters and architrave, bearing the legend ‘PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHAPEL 1854’.

In 1863 it was referred to as ‘a neat building, in the Grecian style’ (William White, Directory).

From 1875-1894 the building was the armoury and drill hall of the 10th Company of the First Battalion, Leicestershire Rifle Volunteers (L. Co. First Volunteer Battalion the Leicestershire Regiment from 1883) until they moved their activities to the old Grammar School in the same street.  By 1931 the old chapel was said to be ‘now a portion of the warehouse of Messrs S. Davis & Sons hosiery factory’ (Hinckley Times, 31 July 1931). It later became part of the premises of Messrs. Klynton Davis Ltd. In the 1980s the building was demolished with the remainder of the factory and its site is now occupied by B&Q.

Above: The old chapel in use by Messrs Klynton Davis Ltd, 1985 (sketch by Lew Kershaw).

METHODIST (PRIMITIVE) CHAPEL 1884 Albert Road. Now Hinckley Methodist Church. Brick with stone dressings, including neo-Norman doorway with zig-zag moulding, and polychromatic brick decoration. The foundation stones were laid on 11 April 1884, according to a report in the Hinckley News, 19 April 1884: ‘Unfortunately a dispute as to plans being passed by the Local Board has very much retarded progress… The cost of the building is estimated to be nearly £2000, the contract of the builders Messrs. Langton & Son, of Enderby, being £1600, the site costing £220’.

Above, left: Primitive Methodist Chapel, 1902, showing original more elaborate window design. Above, centre: Doorway with neo-Norman decoration. Above, right: Facade, 2000.

The chapel ‘which is so far completed as to be ready for divine service’ was first used Sunday 28 Sept 1884, when the interior was as yet unpainted and portions of the woodwork unfinished. On 23 Oct 1884 a service of thanksgiving took place (Leicester Journal, 3 Oct/31 Oct 1884). The architect is not named, but is likely to have been Joseph Ball of Hinckley, given that he also designed a manse and schoolrooms for the same denomination within a few years.

Interior: traditional nonconformist arrangement with central pulpit/table and pipe organ behind. Galleried on three sides. Large and impressive stained glass window above gallery – three main panels depicting Dorcas giving alms/Christ with the children/the Good Samaritan. March 1923. Signed: W. Blythe, 18 Simes Street, Bradford, and A. Griffiths, 27 Sneath Avenue, Golders Green. Window at ‘west end’ 1937 commemorates Timothy Jennings and depicts the Good Samaritan. The twenty-four windows in the body of the chapel were re-leaded with coloured designs in the early 1920s, the anonymous donor being dissatisfied with the ‘factory-like’ originals.

In 1922 a major renovation of the church was undertaken, including the main window, where the stonework was already crumbling and decayed. Total cost of scheme £1,650.

[At LRO (DE968 N/M/142/110) Hinckley Primitive Methodist Circuit Leaders Minute Book 1867-1922.]

Church corner stones today.

Mr Argyle, Mr W Porter, W.C.Farmer Esq., Mr Boulton & Mrs Wheatley


Local Paper extract 1884.
Local Paper extract 1884.

METHODIST (PRIMITIVE) MANSE 1888 Albert Road. On 17 Feb 1888 expenditure on a new minister’s house was approved, to be situated adjacent to the recently erected chapel in Albert Road. On 10 Mar 1888 Joseph Ball’s specifications and plans were accepted, the estimated cost to be £300 (LRO). Below, right: The manse in 2001.

METHODIST (PRIMITIVE) SCHOOLROOMS 1893, 1928 At LRO (DE 968 – N/M/142/115) – Hinckley Primitive Methodist Schoolroom Building Fund account book and receipts. Contractor ‘Mr. Jeffcote, Druid Street, Hinckley’ and J. Garner, carpenter/builder of Druid Street. In late March 1893 the cornerstone of new Sunday Schools were laid by J. B. Maclaren MP (Hinckley Times, 1, 8 April 1893). ‘July 6 1893 received 10 pounds for preparing plans and specifications etc. for new class rooms and school rooms for the Primitive Methodist Church – Joseph Ball’. July 25 1893 Atherstone – receipt for cutting letters in memorial stones from Joseph Ball for Charles F. Fox.

The schools were opened in early July, 1893. Two storeys with a 35 foot frontage to Dare’s Walk. Architect Joseph Ball. Cost £509 plus £50 for furnishings. Contractors Mr Jeffcote for brickwork and Mr Garner for woodwork (Hinckley Times, 8 July 1893).

In 1928 the Sunday school premises were again to be extended at a cost of about £1,000 (Hinckley Times, 18 May 1928). The foundation stone was laid on 19 May 1928 (see account in the Hinckley Times 25 May 1928). Contractors, Messrs. W. Foxon and Son of Hinckley. ‘The new building, the foundation stones of which were laid on Saturday, is to find the young men of the church a room that will be suitable for their requirements. This new room will have a capacity of 20 feet by 12 feet and there will be an upper storey which will provide two small classrooms for the use of the intermediate dept. It is the intention of the young men of the church to furnish their new room and make it suitable for use as a church parlour.’ These rooms were opened in October 1928, and included a church parlour, two classrooms for the senior scholars and an extended primary department, all furnished and equipped. The final cost was about £600 (Hinckley Times, 26 Oct 1928).


Saturday afternoon 25 March 1893 Corner Stone Laid by Mr C B McLaren MP of the new Primitive Methodist Sunday-school. 2:30pm in summer like weather and in the presence of a large concourse of persons. Rev John Wilson was superintendent minister of the circuit. present were Rev G Lee (of Alfreton), Rev J Boulton (Leicester), Rev D Stephens (Congs) Rev Price Williams (Baptist) Mr Parkis (Primitive Minister) Councillor Hilton (Leicester), Mr W Porter (superintendent of the school), Mr w Bird (Earl Shilton) and others. £287 12s had been raised in subscription towards the £500 required.

METHODIST (WESLEYAN) CHAPEL 1782 Stockwell Head. Wesley House. Brick with rendered front and hipped slate roof; probably the ‘neat elegant preaching-house’ referred to by John Wesley in his journal, 27 April 1783. The building, which dates from the late 18th century, was enlarged to its present size (391/4ft. by 50ft. externally) c.1800; it was superseded by a new building in 1876-8 which has now been demolished [see below]. The N front, of five bays with two tiers of windows and doorways in the penultimate bays (partly altered since 1957) was originally of three bays and extended to the west.

The S wall, which now has two tall round-arched windows with recent blocking, earlier had one upper and two lower windows. (RCHM, 124) The building became unsafe in the nineteenth century, and in 1876 the gallery collapsed. When the new chapel was built, this building was bought by Hinckley Club Company Ltd for use as a Men’s Club. This continued until 31 December 1942. In 1943 the building was taken over by the Hinckley Youth Club. It subsequently had various uses, was occupied by Shirley Price Ltd, and now (2000) is empty. .

In 1856 the Wesleyans purchased a house in New Buildings for their minister after receiving a substantial donation from abroad (Leicester Journal, 8 May 1856).

‘The old Working Men’s Club premises in Stockwell Head, now in the occupation of Messrs W. Pickering and Sons, box manufacturers, on a 99 years lease, were among the lots offered for sale by Mr Thomas Aucott, under instructions from Messrs Marston, Thompson and Evershed, Ltd. They were eventually knocked down to the occupiers at £250… the Working Men’s Club premises… have interesting associations. They formed the home of the Club after its early days in Castle Street. It was from here that the Club transferred to its present spacious premises at the top of Stockwell Head’ (Hinckley Times, 11 Nov 1927). It is unclear to which building this account refers, but it is likely that it is Wesley House.

NMR – 1 photo labelled ‘Wesleyan Chapel (now a factory)’; 1 photo labelled ‘Old Wesleyan Chapel’ (both 1957)


November 1743 – John Wesley preached at Hinckley, where he recorded a large and quiet congregation.

21 July 1779 – Reaching Hinckley about 8pm, he was asked to preach before continuing towards Coventry.

15 July 1782 – Wesley, now 79, made a detour into Leicestershire on his way from Birmingham to London. According to his journal, he preached at Hinckley on the evening of Monday 15 July, calling it ‘one of the civilest towns I have seen’.

27 March 1783 – Possibly during his last visit he had been asked to return this year to open the first chapel. Until that time services were held in a large room at the back of some houses at the top of Stockwell Head. Wesley arrived by chaise on Thursday 27 March on a circuitous tour from Bristol to Ireland. He had been ill with a fever until a few days before, and had asked a supportive clergyman to take his appointments. When he recovered, he took a chaise and caught up with his schedule. He writes ‘I crossed over the country to Hinckley, and he preached in the evening in the neat, elegant preaching-house. So I did, morning and evening, on the three following days to a serious, well-behaved people.’ He makes no mention of opening the Preaching House, but it is an oral tradition that he did so. Three days was the longest he ever spent anywhere in Leicestershire.

10 July 1786 – ‘The rain continuing, he travelled on to Hinckley in the afternoon and preached there at 6.30. The new preaching house was overflowing, and a more serious, well-behaved people he reckoned he had seldom seen. While he was preaching, a man in the street, while cursing another, called upon God to “blast his eyes”. He was immediately struck blind, and remained so for the time being. After an 8 o’clock supper and more time in prayer, Wesley retired for the night at 9.30.’

12 February 1787 – Wesley and a companion arrived late in the afternoon at Hinckley whilst en route from Newark to London. ‘The people had no prior notice of his coming, but word soon got around and, although it was raining, the preaching-house quickly filled and he preached to them at 6.30. Many, he believed, were filled with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. While he was at Hinckley, Wesley enquired about the man who had been struck blind the previous year. He was told that he had remained in that condition for some time, but as soon as he recovered his sight he had lapsed into being as profane as he had before.’ Wesley was by this time 83 years old.

(Joan and Robin Stevenson, John Wesley in Leicestershire (Kairos Press 1988))

METHODIST (WESLEYAN) CHAPEL 1878 New Buildings (formerly Grimms Lane). It succeeded the 18th century chapel in Stockwell Head. Initial cost £6,301 plus £900 for the site. ‘The new church was built in red brick with ornamental stone dressings and a double arched portico, flanked by tall Corinthian columns’. There is a full account of its opening on 7 Nov 1878 in the Hinckley News, Sat 9 Nov, 1878. The architect was John Loxton (of Loxton Brothers) of Wednesbury, the contractors Messrs. T. Foxon and Son of the Mineral Baths, Hinckley.

‘The building… presents a noble appearance, the front, facing new building, being of the Italianate style of architecture, built of patent pressed red bricks, with cement facings.

The interior of the building is strikingly beautiful, the ornamental portions of the work being of very elegant design. The gallery occupies three sides of the building, and at the end behind the pulpit is an orchestra for organ and choir. The open stalls will accommodate in a comfortable manner over 800 persons. The warming and lighting arrangements are on the most approved principles. The gas pendants, in the form of stars, are suspended from the centre flowers on the ceiling. Underneath the chapel are school-rooms which will accommodate 400 children… The amount of the contract is nearly six thousand pounds’ (Hinckley News, 9 Nov, 1878). John Loxton was also the architect of Swan Village Wesleyan Chapel, Staffs, 1865, and of Wednesbury Town Hall, 1870.

Above: Wesleyan Chapel, c.1905

At Leics Record Office (DE 968 N/M/142/38) are specifications for repairing, cleaning, painting and decorating the Wesleyan Chapel, Stockwell Head, Hinckley. These are from Messrs. Redfern & Sawday, architects, 1 Berridge Street, Leicester, dated June 1890.

In 1903 the chapel was refurbished and renovated. ‘The scheme on which the decorations have been carried out is one of contrasts, and the ceiling is done in blues and creams, picked out with gold. The walls are in terra-cotta with a green dado, and with a lot of stenciling in green and red picked out in gold. The whole of the work is painted, and there is not a bit of paper inside the whole building. The front of the gallery, which was formerly varnished, has now been decorated in light green and gold. The front of the orchestra has been brought further forward and room made for another row of seats, this having necessitated the pulpit being moved a little forward. All the pews have been cleaned down and re-varnished, and in the gallery some fall-down seats for special occasions have been put in. The cocoa-matting in the aisles has been replaced by cork carpets, and umbrella stands have been placed at the ends of the pews. An improvement has also been effected in the illumination of the building, and a fresh heating apparatus on the hot air system installed.’ The cost was nearly £600. The architects were Ball & Heaton ‘and every detail of the entire scheme as regards style, pattern and colour, has had the personal approval of Mr. Heaton’. Mr. John Abbott of Hinckley was the contractor, and Mr. C. W. Summers the sub-contractor and plasterer (Hinckley Times, 19 Sept 1903).

The last service in the building took place on 1st Oct 1969. The chapel was closed on 12th Oct 1969 and demolished soon afterwards, its site now occupied by an undistinguished office block.

See also T. Keen, A History of Wesleyan Methodism in Hinckley (1928), including fine view of chapel. Top, left and right: the chapel in the early 20th century. NMR – 1 photo (above, left).

By Fred Hartshorn

Retired Engineer but now am a Therapeutic Counselor and charity volunteer. Ex DJ. MBACP, BSc(Hon), DipComp, DipCoun. Interested in books, computing, family and local history. Budding artist. and Musician.

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