Paignton (Palace Avenue) Methodist Church

Palace Avenue, Paignton, Devon, United Kingdom

A Home of Their Own

1860 - A time to plant

The barn chapel flourished. Local Preachers were the mainstay of small chapels like this one. At the Quarterly Meeting of September 1860, preachers were requested to meet the Paignton Classes following afternoon services to "attend to this department of the work of God in the Circuit."

Once established as a chapel, the building was ripe for improvement. Extensions were carried out, and within a few weeks plans were being made for a celebratory re-opening service.

Membership of the Society was very small. Quarterly payments to the Circuit were sometimes less than £1. Presumably, this money came from the one penny per week Class subscription. The first recorded assessment is dated June 1867 and is for the sum of £4.

By March 1866 the Circuit was forming a committee to "consider the practicability of erecting a new chapel at Paignton." The investigators included Messrs Morgan, Yeo, Harvey, Williams and Curwood, all of whom would serve the Society for many years to come. An offer was subsequently made to Mr Pillar for a site at Polsham with a 50 foot frontage, for the intended chapel.

There was growth all around the bay. After much anguish on the part of Teignmouth and Newton Abbot, the Torquay Circuit came into being. The new Circuit served an area with a population of 25,000 inhabitants.

The Paignton Chapel appeared on the first Plan. Services were held twice each Sunday with a fortnightly, mid-week Prayer Meeting. Each Chapel was expected to contribute to a Circuit Aid collection, Education Fund (for Ministers' children) and their Assessment. Holy Communion was celebrated once a quarter by the Minister, the Revd J Morgan. The Lectionary Readings were printed on the Plan.

The earliest list of members, dated 1867, names:

  • William Mortimore
  • Jane Lavers
  • Elizabeth Horswell
  • Mary Mortimore
  • Elizabeth Parnell
  • Mary Jane Warren
  • John Patterson

Patterson was the coastguard. William Mortimore was a mason by trade. Twenty years earlier, the record of the baptism of William and Mary's son was the second entry in the Register. Later in life he was described as "The backbone of the church, a real saint."

Of the twelve Trustees appointed in 1868, six resided in Torquay, and four subsequently emigrated. The only surname which still appears in the Torbay Circuit is that of Mr William Callard. His grandson continues his family's unbroken service to Methodism.

The Winner Street dream became a Polsham Road reality. The chapel was built in 1868 at a cost of £600, and could seat about 200 people.

The first Treasurer was Mr William Lambshead. This twenty-year old came from an Ipplepen family. Could it be only coincidence that it was also the birthplace of Alexander Fletcher? The Fletcher school and the Deller's store were both in Winner Street. William Lambshead came to Paignton to manage the Deller's shop. Before long, he managed to marry the boss's eldest daughter, Elizabeth Ann. He was to continue to use the name Deller in several other business ventures.

The Wesleyan Chapel was now firmly established in the rapidly expanding town, although at this time the residential area had not spread to Polsham. In winter it was still a long, dark walk beyond the apple orchards which lay between Church Street and Polsham Road. Only Winner Street boasted street lights, and they were not lit when moonlight was anticipated!

Chapel 1868

THE CHAPEL WAS BUILT IN 1868

THE POLSHAM ROAD PULPIT

THE POLSHAM ROAD PULPIT

Copyright © Sylvia Tancock 1990 (Reproduced here with the permission of the Author)
If you wish to use any of the material please contact us first to obtain permission.

Something To Sing About

The Story of Methodism in Paignton in the Wesleyan Tradition

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