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Appleton Wiske Methodist Church
Address (Click for Map): Methodist Church, Appleton Wiske, DL6 2AB
Appleton Wiske is a beautifully restored chapel located 10 miles to the north of Northallerton and is the most northerly chapel in the circuit. The damp musty chapel was fully restored in 1994 and turned into the warm and very welcoming chapel it is today. Although only a small congregation it is a central part of village life with a number of activities for the youngest to the oldest in the community and a busy weekly coffee morning.
A Brief History of Appleton Wiske Methodist Church
The land on which Appleton Wiske Methodist Church was built in 1821 was purchased from George Kingston. The site was an orchard between Hurworth House and Town End Farm. The land cost £12 and the total cost of the building was £174.14s.0d. It was built in brick with tiers of three arched windows, vertically tied together by giant arches of double brick depth. Inside was a gallery, a high pulpit and iron communion railings. The Chapel probably seated about 300 people comfortably. There was standing space for a carriage outside. Strict rules were laid down for the conduct of the Trustees and preachers; seat rents were to be charged and instructions were given for disposal should the numbers of the congregation fall too low.
During the nineteenth century there were close connections between the Methodists and the linen weavers; the Routledges of Appleton Wiske, and Welfords of Brompton being named among the trustees for many years. In 1964 the Bethel Chapel in Baker Street (now a private house) was closed and the two trusts merged.
In April 1977 the new organisation for running the Methodist Church nationally came into operation and now all members comprise the Church Council empowered to manage the Chapel’s affairs.
The following recent history was added by the late Barrie Askew, who served as steward for 40 years.
By 1980 there were weekly services with a Sunday School before the service. In 1988 the Sunday School was merged with the Adventurers from St. Mary’s Church and renamed Discoverers, and continued until 1995. During the 1970s and 80s some attempts were made to improve the state of the damp, smelly, dilapidated interior but in effect we only managed to “wallpaper over the cracks”.
The late Frank Bramhall tried to make things happen in our Chapel during his tenure of pastoral charge – but neither God nor the membership were ready. At the Church Council in the autumn of 1991, the Rev. Geoffrey Baines drew attention to the state of the building and said that we must do something about it or consider closure. No-one knew how a chapel living from hand to mouth financially, and with only ten members, could raise the money for any scheme. We thought that it was all down to the members and did not reckon on God’s power.
Geoffrey Baines produced a sketch of the interior, which would give toilet, kitchen and an additional room upstairs. This gave us for the first time, a glimpse of the end of the tunnel. It gave us the courage to make the first tentative step to approach an architect. God’s power took over to transform what had been a smaller replica of the worship area of Sandhutton and Newby Wiske Methodist Chapels to the multifunctional building it is today. Throughout the planning period the members never lost sight of our basic requirement – that it should be warm and welcoming.
In 1994 the Chapel was completely refurbished by the 10 members and several other regular churchgoers at a cost of £50,000. The Chapel was built originally at a cost of £190, which was slightly less than the annual assessment for two members in 1994. The Dedication Services were held on Sunday 30th October, 1994 and led by the Rev. Stuart Burgess, who was the chair of the York & Hull District at that time. The whole process of planning and doing the refurbishment had formed the members into a very close knit church family. It had also left us in a state of exhaustion. The next ten months were spent in recuperation and thinking of the form our future mission would take. During that period it was agreed that ours would be a “giving” church.
Towards the end of 1995 we decided to have a series of Coffee Mornings on Tuesdays, with 75% of the proceeds going to charity and 25% to Chapel funds to offset costs. The Coffee Mornings were held in school term time on alternate weeks initially, but were soon offered weekly.
The prime purpose of the Coffee mornings is to provide a relaxed and comfortable social occasion for community. Having said this, our faithful supporters have raised large sums of money over the years for a variety of charities.
Other things have happened at other times. For many years, before the refurbishment, we have, in conjunction with St. Mary’s, held an Agape Supper on Maundy Thursday, hosting it on alternate years. When the Rev. Hazel Hanson had pastoral charge for two years during her training, there was Tot’s Praise twice a month on Tuesday’s. A youth group met twice a month on Sunday evenings. We also celebrated a Chapel Anniversary with a weekend mission led by a team from Cliff College. The RITES (Rural IT Education Service) was piloted for the whole country in our Chapel and continued for several years until the finances ran out having run more courses than any other venue. For about three years a lady associated with Chapel ran a French course for Primary School children – one year they took the major part in the Nativity Service singing carols in French.
In 2000 we staged the most incredible Flower Festival over Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Some people who came to the Flower Festival still occasionally drop in to the Coffee Morning.
In 2006, to celebrate our 185th anniversary, everyone in the village was invited to a free lunch on Chapel Anniversary Sunday, we employed an outside caterer and over 70 people enjoyed a superb meal.
Over the years we made efforts to maintain the close knit church family. For a period we held a variety of social evenings with talks, demonstrations or games. There have been three course hot meals put on in Chapel and we go out as a church family for Sunday lunch three or four times per year. We firmly believe that this is all vitally important to enable us to extend a very warm welcome to everyone who comes into our Chapel.
This addition by Karen Portsmouth, currently serving as steward.
Since the refurbishment in 1994 the membership has remained between 12 and 17 people, a testament to the faith and fellowship of the many people involved.
We are a small, but active chapel of members and friends – serving our community with love and care, as did those who went before us.