Methodism & Methodists – Addingham

By: Stanley Merridew

Addingham, along with most Wharfedale villages was visited by travelling Methodist preachers from the middle of the eighteenth century.

Grimshaw, Colbeck, Maskew and John Wesley all preached in the village.  One of those converted at the time was Thomas Lee.  Born in Silsden, he served an apprenticeship in Addingham and became one of Wesley’s travelling band of preachers.

Originally the converts would have met in private houses.  One farmhouse on Addingham Moorside continued as a meeting place for methoidst until well into the twentieth century.   The first chapel was erected in 1778 in Lidget Lane (Back Lane).  This was enlarged in 1808 at the time when Addingham became the head of a circuit stretching from Burnsall to Ilkley and across into Airedale.   The land was donated by the Greenwood family and their family mausoleum stands in the large burial ground adjacent to the building.  Wharfedale FHG transcribed the gravestones in the early 1980s.   

 This chapel remained in use until 1973 when it was converted into housing.  The chapel moved to Chapel Lane/Wesley Place, which had previously been built as a Wesleyan School.  It remains there to this day.

We have published the registers of baptism, marriages and burials as well as the memorial inscriptions.  In addition, Bradford Archives hold day school and Sunday School records from 1848 to 1943 plus other material including leader’s minutes and chapel steward’s accounts which will identify families involved with the running of the organisation.  I found at the archives an “Assignment of Right of Burial” signed by John Smiles of Addingham, Grocer dated 25 January 1855:

………..£25 paid by Joseph Styles of Grassington to place a gravestone in the chapel burial ground at Addingham granted by the trustees – Thomas Lister the elder, Isaac Bland, John I’Anson, William Greenwood, Thomas Mason, Francis Wall, James Cockshott, William Cockshott, Henry Flesher Bland, Abraham Emmott, John Beck, Joseph Smith, William Smith, Richard Steel, William Lister, Lister Cockshott, Frederick Alexander Greenwood.   

From around 1850 part of the Wesleyan Church movement decided to breakaway from the main body, forming the Wesleyan Reform Church.  This included part of the congregation of Addingham and they constructed their own chapel in 1861 on Main Street.  This chapel is still in use. 

Addingham Mount Hermon

Wesleyan Reform Chapel

We have transcribed and published the baptisms from 1861.  Further records may still be in the possession of the church.

The Memorial Hall, built in 1913 was originally a Primitive Methodist chapel.  But by 1955 it had become the Memorial Hall we know today.  Sadly no records appear to have survived

Addingham appears to have been a breeding ground for Methodist preachers.  William Kendall Gale, born in 1873 in Addingham   and baptised at Mount Hermon where he later became Pastor.  There is a plaque in his honour at the chapel.

Another was Henry Flesher Bland, born 1818 in Addingham  son of Anthony Bland and Martha Flesher.  He married Emma Levell in Addingham.  He first became a preacher in Addingham and emigrated to Canada, where he rose to become one of the leading lights in methodism.  Two of his sons also became preachers.

The Methodist School was built largely by subscription from local families.  A booklet dated 1876 held at Bradford Archives gives the names of all those who made donations.  It also lists the trustees as follows:

Joseph Gill, clogger

Robert Mitton, manufacturer

William Simpson, draper

Joseph Pighills, farmer

James Thackray, farmer

James Brown, warp dresser

George Whitaker, shoemaker

Michaels Pighills, farmer

Joseph Steele, shoemaker

Edwin Townson, farmer

Charles Wade, cabinetmaker

Jesse Drake, grocer

Starkie Starkie, minister

All the above of Addinghham plus:

Robert Shiers, farmer of Draughton, John Gill, farmer of Beamsley, William Mitton of Ilkley and Giffard Dorey, minister of Ilkley.

Also at Bradford Archives, amongst a large volume of various papers and correspondence, much relating to the school, are two registers concerning the Band of Hope movement, a nonconformist initiative to discourage particularly the young from alcohol.  They run from 1919 to 1948, although some years are missing.  I have photocopied the Roll of the Young Abstainers League 1919-1927.  This shows full name, age at enrollment and address.  Plus Abstainers Roll (Senior Section)  1927-1938.  This only gives name as Mr or Mrs in most cases and few addresses.   These are too large to include in the journal but if you think your family may have been involved please contact me and I will transcribe the relevant information.  I wish they were mine!