Wesleyan Methodist Church

Photo added by Peter Cox

Wesleyan Methodist Church

Location
Redfield, Bristol Unitary Authority, Bristol, England
Memorials 2 added

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Redfield Wesleyan Methodist Church was, and the building still is, situated in the populous working district of East Bristol. It has a long and honourable history, linked with John Wesley.

With Methodism in East Bristol on the rise Redfield eventually became part of the Kingswood circuit and as they prospered it was considered wise to construct a church for the congregation who first met in the back of a shop on Church Road. opposite Dove Lane. Land for this purpose was purchased, a trust was formed and the foundation stone for the new building was laid on 23rd August 1815. The Chapel finally opened on 8th February 1816.

Amongst the first Trustees was a gentleman by the name of Mr. H.H. Budgett. He and his brother, Samuel, were great stalwarts in Redfield who also founded the wholesale grocers H.H. & S. Budgett.

Also a Trustee of the Church was a Robert Dix, who did much to further the cause of Methodism in Redfield. He and his wife, Mary, were buried in the family vault at the rear of the new church. A commemorative plaque was also to be found on the wall of the new church close to the pulpit.

Another original Trustee was one George Pocock, grandfather of the famous cricketer, Dr. W.G. Grace. He owned private boarding schools in St. George and Clifton. He invented the kite drawn carriage. He also instigated outdoor preaching (for which he was censured by the authorities) and started a number of meetings in tents, the followers of which were called "Tent Methodists".

Come the early 1880s, the society had made such progress that new and better accommodation had become necessary. As a result, the New Chapel was erected on the site of the old minister's house and garden and opened on 8th April 1884 by the Rev.T. McCullagh. It was built by William Church of Bristol at a cost of £3000. It was built of pennant stone and freestone dressings in the Gothic style and seated 736 worshippers. The first minister of the New Chapel was the Rev. John C. Stanfield.

The church continued to thrive over the years. In 1921 the cry went out for another new room to seat around 250 people, and this was built on spare ground at the rear of the church building. The New Hall was opened with a service on 15th October, 1921 at a cost of around £1,000.

By 1930 membership stood at over 300 with about 70 junior members in the Sunday School and youth groups. As a result many additions and improvements were made, like the Sunday School building that was erected at 134 Church Road (which eventually became the St. George Liberal Club).

However, through the passage of time membership declined and it no longer remained appropriate to continue using the church. The last service was celebrated in 1974.

There was a graveyard situated at the rear of the New Hall and, in its latter years, became uncared for and was in a bit of a mess. There were a few graves of people that were important to the church, including the ones mentioned above. Some graves, particularly the family vaults, had collapsed. In the shadow of the trees, beside the wall adjoining the road, were graves of infants. The graves that did attract interest however, were two Commonwealth War graves of servicemen who lost their lives at sea.

The church building was finally sold in 1979 and is now known as the Bristol Hindu Temple, otherwise known as Sanatan Deevya Mandal. It was founded in 1979 by members of the Hindu community who had fled Uganda in the early 1970s.

The graveyard does not form part of their property. It was later flattened and currently forms part of a sports ground.

(Written with information provided by the Barton Hill History Group)
March 2016

GPS Coordinates: 51.45893, -2.5569

  • Added: 14 Mar 2016
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #2606810