Methodists & Methodism Washburn Valley – Castley to Norwood Bottom

By Stanley Merridew

The lower part of the valley was part of the Otley Circuit whose records are housed at Leeds Archives.


Isaac Atkinson is credited with starting Methodism in Castley around 1820, although a record of a chapel can only be gleaned from the name Chapel Hill Lane.  He was a tenant of Castley Hall farm and Castley Manor Farm.   I understand Chapel Hill Lane was diverted when the railway came, so possibly the chapel was pulled down at the time.  In 1851 the chapel census was signed by John Adamson.

From the Wesleyan Roll we can deduce the society was very active at this time judging by the number of names shown comprising the Dickinson, Hannam, Hutton, Mundell, Newby, Parker, Pickard & Rodgers families.


The village appears in the Keighley circuit records as early as 1760.  However, it is not until 1776 that the house of Joseph Mawson was licensed for preaching.  The applicants were Lee, Harrison, Brown, White and Rayner.    Later in 1799 the home of Robert Walker was licensed.  On this occasion the applicants were Potts, Brown, Stead, Richie and Armistead.  The chapel was erected in 1826.  The land was bought from John Stead and the cost was met by loans over many years from J Taylor of Weeton, W Clapham, T Renton and William Rodgers

At the time of the religious census in 1851 the steward was Joseph Kendall.   The following signed the Wesleyan Roll: Job Gill, Grace A Morrell, Joseph Kendall, Robert Kendall and several members of the Fearnside family who are shown as “of York, lately of Leathley.


The village is mentioned in the circuit records as early as 1785 although the chapel was not built until 1836, Licensed in the name of John Gill.  He appears in the Wesleyan Roll as “In memoriam – a faithful Methodist of the old school.”  Also listed is John Morrell, “In memoriam – One of the most earnest & devout Christians the Circuit has ever known,” plus Alfred Ingle and members of the Hutton & Wood families, including William Wood, shown as steward & leader.  The Religious census of 1851 was completed by Samuel Roundell.  The chapel records 1836 to 1975 are held at Leeds Archives.


There appears to be no record of a chapel at Lindley.  However, James Myers, “Eventide Review of Primitive Methodism in the Otley Circuit”, published 1920, mentions regular services held originally in the home of Rupert & Hannah Young at Lindley Wood and later in the farmhouse of the Davies family.


The hamlet appears in the early records but it was not until 1903 that a chapel was erected.   George & Ada Carver, James & Christopher Crabtree, William Dale & Mary Halliday appear in the Wesleyan Roll as of “Clifton.”   Mary Halliday is noted as having saved her guinea in threepenny bits.  Northallerton hold the marriage register for 1982-1983 only.

Norwood Bottom

The chapel opened on 1920 and is still in use today.  However the Methodist cause was evident for many years previously.  W F Seals, “Methodism in the Otley Circuit” 1974, mentions services held at the home of Mrs Davy from 1856.  This could be George & Jane Davy who were living at Brass Castle in 1851 but had moved to Leas Bank Hall by 1861.  By the turn of the century the Wesleyans were using the old banqueting hall at Norwood Hall, the home of the Smith and Shepherd families.

The Primitive Methodists held open air meetings at Sword Point in the middle of the nineteenth century and also at Bride Cross House above Dob Park Bridge. The Wesleyan Roll shows – Robert Smith of Norwood Bottom, “Steward, leader, upwards of 40 years ministers & local preachers have been welcomed in his house.   Norwood would be poor indeed without this family.”  Other members of his family are also listed along with Jesse & Ann Wall.


The building was erected in 1835 as a school but shortly afterwards the Robinson Library opened and the school moved there allowing the Primitive Methodists and later the Wesleyans to takeover.   Susannah Holmes paid her guinea for the 20th Century Fund.

Timble Methodist Sunday School Outing 1928

Rear: Alec Wray (driver)

Back row: Billy Ward, Andrew Dickinson, Herbert Proter, Edith Dickinson, Alice Proctor, John Ward, Lily Wise, Willy Dolpin, Thomas Gill, Agnes & Mark Bradley with son Harry

Middle row: not known, Mary Dickinson, Sally Dickinson, Doris Ward, Mary Dickinson with grandson Geoffrey Ellison, Emma Dolphin

Front row: Alice Gill, Harold Beecroft, Rhoda Ellison, Alec Ellison, Nancy Ellison. 

Stainburn School Logbook

by Stanley Merridew

School records are an excellent and often overlooked resource for family and local history, giving much information, not just about the child but also the local community.  They are well worth pursuing for additional family history material.

This logbook was handed into Horsforth Museum in 2018 along with a logbook for Horsforth St Margaret’s School.  Knowing my interest in school records it was passed to me.  It has now been deposited at North Yorkshire Record Office but I took the opportunity to have a good look through it.   

Due to privacy rules we have to be thoughtful of any detrimental comments regarding living persons so I have been selective although I have seen nothing to upset anyone, so far.

Loose sheet inside cover:      Useful Facts           (undated)

Population of Stainburn 137 Population of Leathley      170

Size of this room 282sq ft Height of this room 11ft 9ins

Size of Infant room 152sq ft

Size of Playground 329sq yds Size of Field 1374sq yds

Height of School above sea level 350ft

Height of church above sea level 470ft

Height of Almscliff Crag above sea level 700ft

Highest point in Stainburn – Little Almscliff 840ft

Lowest point in Stainburn – Riffa Wood 250ft

On an index page

School number 753


Infants 14      Junior Mixed 14

Length 20¾ft  Breadth 15ft   Height 22½ft (12ft to eaves)

Infant Room 13ft x 13ft

Population of Stainburn May 1929 128

The starting date is January 1926

The logbook commences on 4th January 1926.  Here are some of the entries for the early years:-

4th Jan 1926 School reopens after Christmas holiday – 21 children present 2 absent.  Miss Hilda Harrison supplementary teacher of Pool has been appointed temporarily to take the place of Miss Myers.

15th Jan 1926 A medical certificate for Rowland Newbould received, recommending exclusion for four months (illness).

16th March 1926 Dora Smith’s name has been removed from the register as she has returned to Skirpenbeck.

10th May 1926 Jessie Darnbrook has left the village so her name has been removed from the register.

8th Jun 1926 Excluded 9 children who are suffering from whooping cough.

10th Jun Sent William Wood and Maurice Newby home as they are coughing badly.

22nd Jun Received notice to close the school for 3 weeks for whooping cough.

13th Jul 1926 Re-opened today 11 children present. Have removed Annie Barker from the register as they have left Leathley.

14th Jul 1926 Miss Harrison will be from now until the summer holiday as she is sitting for an examination.

19th Nov 1926 Percentage for the week 100%.  The children are having an extra half hour play as a reward for the perfect attendance. – Didn’t happen at my school!

10th Dec 1926 Wilfred Chapman, a visitor in Leathley has been admitted this week.

10th Jan 1927 Mary Thorpe is now 14 years old & has left.  Wilfred Chapman has returned home.

3rd Mar 1927 William Wood’s mark had to be cancelled this afternoon.  He had to go to Farnley owing to the death of his


1st Apr 1927 The new school year has begun.  Florence Smith has left. The children have been promoted.  I believe the school year did not change until post WW2.

23rd April 1927 The Smith family have left village this Easter.  Therefore Mrs Smith has resigned her position as cleaner of the school.  The three children have had their names removed from the register.  A pity the forenames were not given. David and Arthur Robinson have been admitted.

3rd May 1927 Mrs Clarke has undertaken the cleaning of the school.

29th Jul 1927 Molly MacKenzie, Mona Whiteley & Maurice Newby lave school today as they are all 14.  Ivy Thompson developed eye trouble this been and has been excluded.

29th Aug 1927 School reopens today, 5 children have left and 1 admittedNo names unfortunately!

7th Oct 1927 Percentage for the week 100%.  A long play has been awarded in consequence.

FindMyPast have some school logbooks and admission registers on their site.  I would recommend checking this out on a regular basis as they appear to still be adding material from when it was first launched several years ago.