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.

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Methodists & Methodism Pool in Wharfedale & Bramhope

Pool in Wharfedale

The first mention of the village in Methodist records is 1794 when the village was included in the Otley Circuit.  However, the first licensed preaching place was granted in 1796 in a dwelling of James Thompson.  The Thompson surname occurs within the history of the chapel for several decadesThe application was signed by Thomas Cooper, James Davison, William Pilling, Joseph Nicholls and Ambrose Heath. It is believed the property was in Chapel Row.

By 1814 Robert Thornber was the leader of a small group.  In 1839 land in Chapel Row was sold by Michael Nicholson, papermaker of Pool Mills, to 15 trustees who included three local men, namely: Thomas Hallis, papermaker, Thomas Pullein, labourer and William Thompson, cordwainer.  The latter was still involved in 1851 when he signed the Census of Religious Worship.  The present chapel was built in 1909 on land given by the Atkinson family.

Joseph Rhodes Dunwell , born at Pool, became a Wesleyan Minister in 1834 and was one of the early missionaries posted to Ghana , where he died of malaria the following year.  His James Dunwell (1781-1856), was a local carrier and the family lived at Pool Farm Cottage.   Joseph is buried in Poole St Wilfrid’s churchyard and a plaque to his memory is displayed in the Methodist chapel.

When the Wesleyan Historic Role was taken between 1899 and 1909 the following names appear with addresses as Pool: Hebden, Myers, Pullein, Roundell, Studson, Whiteley.

A Sunday School register dated 1891-1903 is held at Leeds Archives.


The village appears on the Leeds circuit Plan for 1777 and by 1794 was in the Otley Circuit.  The first licensed preaching was the schoolhouse of John Popplewell.  The application for the licence was signed by John Walker, John Popplewell and John Driver

The cause was possibly active before this date as Beatrice Robinson of Bramhope Mill married John Ritchie of Otley who was very prominent in the Methodist movement.   Their daughter Elizabeth Ritchie along with her brother John Ritchie junior were close followers of John Wesley and he stayed with them on his journeys to Otley.

A barn on Church Hill was used for meetings owned by Michael Barrand.   He along with the Hobson and Walker families, created the first chapel on Eastgate in 1838.  The congregation was swelled firstly by the families associated with the building of the Bramhope tunnel was being built the and later by the influx of wealthier families moving out of Leeds.  This resulted in the building of the present large chapel opened in 1896.

According to W F Seals, “Methodism in the Otley Circuit 1744-1974” the following families were involved in the Methodist movement within the village:

Boyington, Burnley, Cawtheray, Denison, Hall, Miller, Moore, Myers and Pickard.

Unfortunately, the records held at Leeds Archives do not commence until 1938, perhaps more material may be held at the church.

Methodists & Methodism Washburn Valley – Norwood/Havarrah Park to West End

By Stanley Merridew

North Yorkshire Record Office holds Pateley Bridge Circuit records which cover the chapels from Brown Bank to West End. These include baptism records from 1825 to 1961.  All the chapels are together in each volume but the place of residence is shown.

Norwood/Havarrah Park

Known as Brown Bank, this chapel was situated off Watson’s Lane, now a private house.  Northallerton record office have a copy of the Sunday School register 1941-1979. Several names are shown on the Wesleyan Roll:  Darnbrook,  Grange, McKenzie, Gill, Hobson, Hutton


The chapel opened as early as 1763 and was enlarged in 1894 when there were 26 members.  It closed in 1959, also now a private house.  Marriage records 1908-1943 at are held at Northallerton.  At NYRO I came across a list of seat rents for 1910 which mentions the following names:

Mr H Beecroft, John Beecroft, James Hart, Mrs Luty, Mr T Newall, Mrs Patten, Miss J Pennington, Mr F Pennington, R Pennington, Mrs Umpleby, T Varley, Mr W Yeadon.   The only names shown for Fewston on the Wesleyan Roll are John Myers & J Bramley.

Hardisty Hill

The chapel, situated on a lane just to the east of Hardisty Hill opened in 1838 and closed in 1994. 

There was also a Reading Room until relatively recently at the foot of Hardisty Hill.  The North Yorkshire Record Office holds a copy of the Sunday School register, attendances shown below:

John W Andrew 1896 to 1898            Dewhirst Beecroft 1909 to 1911

William Beecroft 1895 to 1897 & 1909 to 1911     James E Gill 1892

George Hardcastle 1892 to 1895         Charles Harrison 1897 to 1898

Richard Knowles 1910 to 1911           Andrew Maud 1893

Bradley Maud 1895 to 1898               Titus Maud 1894 to 1895

Ethel Maud 1897 to 1898                   Lucy Maud 1895 to 1898

Emily Neal 1896 to 1898                   Annie L Newall 1909

Annie M Watkinson 1894 to 1896      Richard Watkinson 1895 to 1896

Charles Watkinson 1895 to 1897                          

Five members of the Gill family contributed to the Wesleyan Roll ( 20th Century Fund), Michael, John , Wilks, Sarah & Esther.

West End

Taken at the centenary celebration in 1936

An article in the Wharfedale & Airedale Observer 12th May 1962 regarding the above chapel,  just before closure, states it opened in 1836 and was built on land previously owned by John Hall of Thruscross.  The chapel was located at the top of Clogger Lane.   Some of the families involved in the past are mentioned: Newbould, Wigglesworth, Gill, Bulmer, Metcalf & Verity.  It also states that the tea at the Centenary was served by Mrs F Nelson, Mrs Wood, Mrs Newbould, Mrs J Verity, Mrs V Verity, Mrs Smith, Mrs G Marshall, Miss S Peel, Miss S Walker.

There was also a Primitive Methodist chapel.  From documents of a land sale held by Mikki French, one of her ancestors, Godfrey Horsman  of West End, sold to Joshua Hardisty (cordwainer), Joseph Dinsdale (linen weaver), James Fryer (flaxdresser), Thomas Shepherd (weaver) all of Thruscross, Joseph Stott (farmer), Francis Sutcliffe (miller), both of Stonebeckdown & John Watson (wheelwright) of Stonebeckup in 1929  a plot of land for the purpose of building a Primitive Methodist Chapel.  The document states the plot of land was close to Holmefield and Brecks Lane.  This site was, I believe just north of the present Reservoir Road.  The building was sold in 1902, so I assume the two congregations came together.  See the first paragraph regarding baptism records.

Just two names appear on the Wesleyan Roll: Enoch Garth & John Verity.

In an account book dated 1811 there is a list of where collections were received.  At this early date many of the chapels were not in existence and these may have been house meetings.  Amongst the places mentioned, Bramley Head and Bramelane are shown.  The Wesleyan Chapel at West End (opened 1836) was close to Bramley Head and Bramelane is near to Brown Bank.   .       

A list of Circuit members dated 1838 for each chapel within the Pateley Bridge Circuit: 

BlubberhousesIsabellaCadmanBrown BankJohnRenton
BlubberhousesJamesChildBrown BankDinahRenton
BlubberhousesMargaretChildBrown BankThomasRobinson
BlubberhousesThomasElliotBrown BankThomasSimpson
BlubberhousesAnnElliotBrown BankMaryStockdale
BlubberhousesMatildaElliotBrown BankGraceStubbs
BlubberhousesHannahKeswickBrown BankSarahThackrey
BlubberhousesEllenLawyerBrown BankJosephTodd
BlubberhousesRobertMetcalfeBrown BankElizaTodd
BlubberhousesJohnNewellBrown BankHannahTurner
BlubberhousesSusannahNewellBrown BankWilliamTurner
BlubberhousesMargaretSunterBrown BankElizabethWhitaker (child)
BlubberhousesEllenTerryBrown BankJonathanWhitaker |(child)
BlubberhousesJohnThackrayBrown BankHannahWilson
BlubberhousesMaryThackrayBrown BankRobertWilson
BlubberhousesMaryWebbBrown BankBenjaminWilson
Brown BankJosephAinsworthFewstonAnnBramley
Brown BankJonathanAndrews (child)FewstonMaryBramley
Brown BankHannahBoltonFewstonMaryBuck
Brown BankHannahBoltonFewstonElizabethBuck
Brown BankRobertBramleyFewstonSarahBuck
Brown BankHannahBramleyFewstonSusannahBuck
Brown BankJohnBramleyFewstonHannahDemaine
Brown BankWilliamBroadbeltFewstonMarkDemaine
Brown BankSarahBroadbeltFewstonMatthewDemaine
Brown BankMaryDarnbrookFewstonJaneDickinson
Brown BankAnnDarnbrookFewstonElizabethDunwell
Brown BankMaryDibbFewstonThomasElison
Brown BankThomasDriverFewstonMaryElison
Brown BankMaryDriverFewstonGeorgeHardy
Brown BankAnnEmsleyFewstonHenryJackson
Brown BankCharlesEmsleyFewstonHannahMorris
Brown BankMary AnnEmsleyFewstonThomasPeel
Brown BankHannahFerndaleFewstonSusannahPeel
Brown BankJosephGrangeFewstonSamuel 
Brown BankWilliamGreenFewstonElizabethReed
Brown BankDanielGreenFewstonJosephSettle
Brown BankSamuelHudsonWest EndElizabethAbbot
Brown BankMaryHudsonWest EndWalterBuckle
Brown BankJosephIrishWest EndSarahBuckle
Brown BankBenjaminJacksonWest EndEllenGarrs
Brown BankJosephJacksonWest EndAnthonyGarth
Brown BankElizabethJacksonWest EndStephenHardisty
Brown BankHenryJacksonWest EndSarahHolmes
Brown BankMaryJacksonWest EndEllenHolmes
Brown BankWilliamMargerisonWest EndElizabethImeson
Brown BankThomasMoonWest EndBettyImeson
Brown BankWilliamMoonWest EndAnnMyers
Brown BankJanePeelWest EndMarthaNewbould
Brown BankRobertPeelWest EndEmmanuelShepherd
Brown BankJosephRawsonWest EndElizabethWaite
Brown BankSusannahRawsonWest EndAmeliaWilkinson
Brown BankSusannahRawson   

I assume those headed under “Blubberhouses” refers to Hardisty Hill Chapel.

At the archives there is also a Society Roll Book dated 1931. 

Primitive Methodism in the Otley Circuit (2)

Taken from “The Eventide Review of Primitive Methodism in the Otley Circuit” by James Myers, first published 1920.

Heroic Local Preachers of Olden Times in Otley Circuit of Primitive Methodism from 1840 to 1918

Those with an asterisk to their names indicates they became Christian Ministers in Primitive Methodism or in some other denomination.

JamesBINNSWilliam HOULDEN SilvesterSMITH
SamuelBOOTHCharlesHUNTThomas SMITH

Primitive Methodism in the Otley Circuit (1)

Photographs of former stalwarts of the Primitive Methodist movement, taken from the The Eventide Review by James Myers, first published 1920.

James Myers (Guiseley)
Mrs Winterburn (left) First supervisor of Guisley Cradle Roll
Mrs Stewart (right) (Guiseley) Leader of Ladies Circle
William Perkins (Otley) Joseph Shadlock (Yeadon) Henry Coupland (Late of Yeadon)

Addingham Primitive Methodists

By Stanley Merridew

Whilst visiting Silsden Library on my quest for War Memorials I came across a real treasure:

SILSDEN PRIMITIVE METHODISTS by W J Robson published in 1910

It gives a detailed history of the Primitive Methodism movement within the former Silsden Primitive Methodist Circuit.  This included chapels at the following places:

Silsden, Addingham, Farnhill, Steeton, Cowling, Sutton in Craven, Eastburn & Glusburn

The main interest to those with Wharfedale ancestors is the Addingham Chapel.  The author states that, as with most early Primitive Methodist communities, the early meetings would have been held in the open air, but very early on they used a room at the Crown Inn.  Surprising, given their abhorrence of strong liquor! 

The author suggests the last link with those early days was a Mrs Richardson who died 13th February 1909 in her 79th year.  This could be Elllen Richardson born Addingham, shown in the 1901 census living at 4 Cross End with her husband William born Skyreholme.  Previously I found her in the 1861 Census, still single, living with her parents, John & Rachel Wilkinson, at “Rookery” in Addingham.  By 1871 her husband William was also there.  Their marriage was not in the parish church and unfortunately the Methodist records for Addingham at this date have not survived.  Ellen died as a result of a fall at home and is buried in Addingham churchyard.  Mi?

Mary Wall, born 12 Nov 1804, the daughter of William and Grace Wall, was another early convert.  According to the author, she was brought by her Uncle William Procter, who was a member of the Wesleyan movement.  Mary died young, on the 23rd July 1828.  Her burial is shown in the parish register on 24th July, age 24, living at Walmsley Bridge.  Other early converts were Elizabeth Rooking who died in June 1832 aged just 24 and Ellen Booth who died in 1847 aged 17. 

According to the Quarterly Meeting reports in 1830 that “Bros Gill, Page and  Fletcher of Silsden and Kenyon, Robinson, Smith and Brayshaw of Addingham form a committee and do their best in getting a chapel at Addingham.   In 1832 a Sunday school was started and services were at this time held at Addingham Low Mill. 

There is no other mention of this until 1837 when it stated in the Circuit Report that congregation at Addingham had purchased a plot of land and intended to build a chapel.  Then in 1838, “200 circulars are to be printed……..and Messrs Butcher and Fletcher follow these circulars to raise subscriptions for the chapel.”  They must have succeeded as by 1839 the chapel was opened.  However, there were several occasions when appeals were made far and wide to help maintain the building, collections at many of the local chapels and further afield.  One request was to the Manchester District. 

In 1844 the secretary was Jos. Harrison and the treasurer was J Lister with T Gelard as his assisitant.  There is further mention of Thomas Gelard, “The former part of his life was spent wickedly in the Army abroad.”  From 1839 until he died in 1848 he was the Chapel Keeper.

In 1893 the new trustees were J Newton, J Leadley ( Minister), A Gill, J Walmsley, GB Prior, FH Smith, D Cotton, J Roe, J Clennie, T Jackson, R Fletcher, T Fletcher, T Green, S Lund, B Binns.  Many of these may have been circuit officials from Silsden as several of the names do not appear at a quick glance in the 1891 census for the village.

Around 1880 a Sale of Work was held, I assume to boost the chapel funds and Hebden Wall gave a calf for sale and a resident named Williamson gave a bag of soot and a bag of turnips.  This could have been John Williamson of School Bridge Back Street as his occupation is shown as chimney sweep in the 1881 census.

There was a custom within the Methodist communities to provide the preachers with their meals as many had travelled long distances, probably of foot, there and back.  The author mentions Mr Barber (possibly Samuel), farmer of Home House Farm carried out this function for many years.   Later Nathan Smith (Main Street) formerly of Silsden, continued this until his death.  Then Hannah Pickard, wife of Abel, opened her home to the preachers.  

The author also mentions individuals and families who have held positions such as class leader, collectors for the missionary cause, stewards etc.  These include: Barber, Brayshaw, Dunn, Ellis, Harkness, Harrison, Hebden, Moorhouse, Parkinson, Prior, Walmsley, West, Wynn.  One former official, J Steele, went to Australia and died there.

Addingham produced several notable preachers who travelled the circuit.  The author named the following: Flesher Bland, Mark Robinson (who later emigrated to America), Sarah Brayshaw, Ann Robinson, W Hebden, T Tattersall, J Richardson, A Myers, A Dunn, J Read, J Robinson, R Jarman.

The author gives Sarah Brayshaw special mention.  She was born in Addingham 10th February 1808, became a preacher in 1831 and covered  a wide area, taking in the Grassington, Skipton, Keighley, Bingley and Otley circuits, mainly on foot.   She died 22nd January 1890.   The author devoted over two pages to her, so if she is “one of yours” you are very fortunate.

The Prior family also get special mention. John Prior was awarded the sum of thirty guineas in 1798 by the Society for Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.   He was the first to invent an escapement for watches.  Later in 1811 his son George was awarded ten guineas for creating the striking mechanism on a clock.  Both awards would have been small fortunes at that time.  Evidently he was asked to add the striking mechanism to Keighley Parish Church for a fee.  After fitting they failed to pay him, so he removed it until they settled.   George had a jewellery and watchmaking business in Leeds and is buried at Woodhouse Moor.  His gravestone states he was a native of Nesfield.,

One amusing tale recounts how Abe Steel, a trombone player at the chapel who had lost his front teeth, decided he would be able to play better with false teeth.  So he made himself a set out of wood!  However, not surprisingly, they failed to work.

A Brief History of the Society of Friends & the Rawdon Meeting

by Brian Clayton

George Fox (1624-1691) is credited with founding the Society of Friends c.1651/2. Born July 1624 at Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire, the son of Christopher FOX & Mary, née LAGO, he was brought up in a Christian family. His father, a weaver, held the office of churchwarden. George as a youth, was apprenticed as a shoemaker.  At an early age he was moved towards a deeper concern about religion and, as a young man, he was involved with the separatists. Later, in Mansfield, he became leader of the Nottinghamshire “Children of Light” movement. After serving in prison in Derby 1650-1651 for his dissenting views, George went on a religious mission throughout the north. He preached in the Pendle area of Lancashire, throughout Wensleydale and the districts of Sedburgh and Dent. So rapidly did the views of this leader of men spread that within a short time he had gathered many Ministers (50-60) to go forth and spread his word.  It is possible that one of these brought the faith to the Rawdon area but there is no record of a personal visit by George Fox to  Rawdon. 

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Bentham’s Conscientious Objectors

by David Johnson and Trevor Blackwell

The subject of Conscientious Objectors, even a century later, can still rouse strong emotions.  My problem is that I can always see both sides of an argument and this sometimes makes it difficult for me to make decisions. The Conscientious Objectors of WW1 had no such qualms and stood against the state and overwhelming prejudices to defend their principles.  Most of Britain’s population at that time stood firmly behind the war effort and Conscientious Objectors had a very difficult time often resulting in abuse and even ostracism.

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