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Updated:  06 July 2011 

Oreston Methodist Chapel is in Plymstock Road, Oreston, Plymstock, Plymouth.

A document in the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office records that the first meeting of Wesleyan Methodists in Oreston took place in 1789, when the congregation numbered only 14.  Presumably these meetings were held in rooms in private houses.  It was part of the Plymouth Dock Circuit.  By October 1813 the numbers had risen to 20 and in December 1817 it had reached 84.  [1]

A Sunday School had been opened in 1815 and in 1818 the Wesleyans built a small chapel on land purchased from the Duke of Bedford.  The building cost 816 to erect and could seat 306 people.  [1]

Later, a burial ground was established, in which the first burial took place in 1845.  [2]

The Chapel was first registered for the religious worship of Protestant dissenters on March 15th 1854.  [2]

A harmonium was bought by public subscriptions and given to the Trustees on February 21st 1867.  [2]

By 1886 Oreston was part of the Plymouth Circuit and at a Circuit meeting in 1886 it was deemed necessary to build a new Chapel at Oreston because the existing one was, as the superintendent Minister is reputed to have said, 'the most weather beaten building in the village'.  [2]

The memorial stones of the Oreston Wesleyan Chapel were laid after a special luncheon on Thursday January 26th 1888 by Mr F B Mildmay MP.  A second memorial stone was laid by Mr W Cooms, secretary of the trustees, on behalf of Mr T Bulteel, who was prevented from  attending himself.  A third stone was laid on behalf of the Sunday School By Mr W T Spearman.  The Service was presided over by the Reverend J S Pawlyn assistaed by the Reverends W Phipps and W Cullum.  [3]

Mr H J Snell of Plymouth, designed the Chapel.  The front elevation has two gables, with lancet and trefoil-headed windows.  It would have a frontage of 100 feet.  There was an burial ground at the rear.  It would seat 225 people.  A large schoolroom was provided, which was separated from the chapel by a sliding partition.  By sliding back the partition the chapel could accommodate 350 to 400.  The contractor was Mr T King of Plymouth.  Using stone from Radford Quarry, the Chapel was built by stonemasons who were also members of the congregation.  Notable among them was one of the Chapel Stewards, Mr Charles Pillidge.  As there was no gas in the village the Chapel had to be lit by eight brass oil burning chandeliers.  [3]

The cost was expected to be 1,700, of which some 300 had been received by the treasurer, Mr John H Williams, and secretary, Mr W Elford junior.  [3]

Mr John Bayly gave 100 towards the funds, Mr R Bayly and Mr W Coombes had each contributed 50 to the funds, Mr W Pearse gave 25, Mr H B Mildmay and Mr T Bulteel, 20 each, Mr F B Mildmay had contributed 20, and Lord Revelstoke donated 10.  [3]

Oreston Wesleyan Chapel was opened on Wednesday August 15th 1888.  The Chapel was built in what was termed as 'adapted Gothic style' and was 14 feet from ground to the wall plate.  It was dressed with limestone, with facings of Radford nobbling.  The window tracery was of Bath stone.  The Chapel consisted of a nave and two transept, each divided from the nave by two arches meeting on an iron column.  The larger transept doubled as the schoolroom and could be separated from the chapel by a revolving shutter.  Benches with moveable backs were provided for the children.  In addition to the natural light, there were handsome Sudd's hanging lamps with large enamel shades.  [4]

A caretaker's house containing four rooms and offices was provided.  [4]

Messrs Hele and Sons, of Saltash, supplied a the Chapel's first organ at a cost of 558.  It was dedicated on December 7th 1927 and Mr Edgar Buckingham was appointed organist and Choirmaster.  [2]


[1]  Source not recorded.

[2]  Clamp, Arthur L, "Oreston and its People Remembered", Arthur L Clamp, Plymouth, nd.

[3]  "The Wesleyan Chapel, Oreston: Speeches by Mr Mildmay MP", Western Morning News, Plymouth, January 27th 1888.

[4]  "Opening of a Wesleyan \Chapel at Oreston", Western Morning News, Plymouth, August 16th 1888.

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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