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Bedford - St Paul's Methodist Church

Photographs Copyright © Priory Methodist Church 2001

The pictures here are from an Album presented in the memory of Ella Farnsworth Handscomb.
To enlarge the photographs please click on the image.

The History

St Paul's Methodist Church was built on a site on the east side of Harpur Street in 1832 and altered in 1896. This replaced an aearlier chapel built in 1804. Prior to this there was a meeting house on the site.

A schoolroom was built on the south side in 1846 and enlarged in 1883.

The church was closed on 29th December 1968, and subsequently demolished. The congregation joined with that of Newnham Avenue Church and worshiped at St Peter's Church during the construction of the new Prior Methodist Church on Newnham Avenue.

Newnham Avenue Church had it beginnings in s small sectional wooden building taken over in 1937. After the Second World War a scheme was prepared for a new church to be built on the iste, the first phase of which was to be a church hall. Regular church services were held in the building which renained in use until it was handed over to the builders to be absorbed as part of the new Priory Methodist Church dedicated on 5th June 1969.

In 1896 internal alterations were made. The front of the gallery was lowered and the former box-like pews were replaced by the seating shown in the photograph. Pine was used extensively in the woodwork.

The Cross above the communion Table in the new Priory Chruch was made from wood taken from the pews before the church was demolished.

The pulpit was mahogany-veneered.

The Communion Table and chairs were made to match ~ and given by th late Mr. Charles Blakeway.

The Roundel on the front of the gallery, seen in the photograph, was. a feature of the interior decoration carried out by the late Mr. Harry Manning.

The Organ was a magnificent instrument of its kind, with a variety of stops, some of great power.

The tracker action functioned for nearly a century with little maintenance.

The Large Draw stops were hard to draw and those for the swell organ were on the right, whereas today they are on the left.

Some of the pipes have been built into the new Organ at Priory Church.

The Organ was presented by Sir Fredrick Howard in 1869.

 

Memorial Plaques in St Paul's Methodist

Inside the church were a variety of meorials that were to be seen around the walls.

The photograph shows the memorial to members of the congregation who died in two World Wars which occupied a place on the North wall of the Church.

The men on this memorial have been researched as part of the War Memorial project being carried out by Bedfordshire Family History Society.




Memorial Tablets on the outside of the building on either side of the front entrance read as follows:

Sacred to the Memory of CATHARINE Wife of JOHN ISITT who departed this life Feb. 24 1824. Aged 43 years. And of MARY ANN Daughter of John and CATHARINE ISITT who died Sept 17th 1817. Aged 10 years & 10 Months. Also of JANE their daughter who died July 222 1826. Aged 10 years & 9 Months. Also of these children who died in their infancy. Joseph Charles Isitt died March 12 1852. Aged 1 Month. Ann Howard Isitt died 1852. Aged 1 Year.
(Note: the last two entries are unclear and are guess work using a magnifying glass.)

Sacred to the memory of MARY, the wife of ISAAC WALE, who exchanged time for eternity the 15th day of July 1828, aged 65 years. She was for more than forty years sincerely attached to the Christian Society assembling in the Chapel also of ISAAC WALE who died Aug. 31, 1812. Aged 64 years. In sure and certain hope of a joyful Resurrection.

Finally a plaque in Memory and Appreciation in the entrance lobby.

TO COMMEMORATE THE LOYAL AND EFFICIENT SERVICE RENDERED TO THIS CHURCH BY WILLIAM FORD FOR 30 YEARS THE CARETAKER. DURING THE 1914-1918 WAR AND THE WORLD WAR 1939-1945. HE RENDERED YEOMAN SERVICE IN THE CANTEEN. HE SPARED NO EFFORT ON BEHALF OF H.M. FORCES WHO ATTENDED THERE, AND HIS DEEP SPIRITUAL INFLUENCE WAS MANIFEST TO ALL. IN THIS AND ALL DEPARTMENTS OF THE CHURCH ITS WELFARE WAS HIS FIRST CONSIDERATION. THIS TABLET IS ERECTED BY THE CANTEEN COMMITTEE.

The following photgraphs are of those tabl;ets on the interior walls of the church.

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE REVD. JAMES HEDGES, WESLEYAN MINISTER, WHO FELL ASLEEP IN CHRIST JESUS OCT. 31, 1849. IN THE 52ND YEAR OF HIS AGE, AND THE 10TH OF HIS MINISTRY.

Urbane, affectionate, and amiable, pious, gifted, zealous, and laborious, he commanded the respect, and won the affection of all who knew him. His superior mind and attainments seemed to mark him out as one designed by the Head of the Church for eminent and protracted usefulness, but his career was short though bright; having won many souls to Christ his sun set in Glory, long before it had attained its noon-day height.

Beneath this Tablet Sleep the mortal remians of ELIZABETH and JOHN RANSHALL, late of London. The former, who was an old disciple, exchanged mortality for life, February 20th 1824, aged 71 years: The latter, after having preached the Gospel fifty years: entered into the joy of his Lord. November 14th 1824, in the 71st year of his age.

ELIZABETH ROWE, their Grandaughter, died, January 1st 1825, aged 2 years, and 9 months; and was interred in the front of this Chapel.

They sleep in Jesus, and rest in joyful hope of a glorious resurrection to eternal life.

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF JOHN ISITT, OF THE PRIORY, BEDFORD; WHO DIED OCTOBER 3, 1854, AGED 71 YEARS. FOR MANY YEARS HE FAITHFULLY DISCHARGED THE DUTIES WHICH AS TRUSTEE AND LEADER DEVOLVED UPON HIM, AND UNIFORMLY MAINTAINED A SINCERE ATTACHMENT TO THE DOCTRINES, DISCIPLINE, AND MINISTRY OF WESLEYAN METHODISM,. BY HIS CONSISTENT LIFE HE WON THE ESTEEM OF HIS NEIGHBOURS, AND HIS END WAS PEACE.

ALSO OF ELIZABETH, RELICT OF THE ABOVE, AGE 72, WHO DIED JANUARY 6, 1875, FOR NEARLY FIFTY YEARS A CONSISTENT MEMBER OF THE WESLEYAN SOCIETY. "THEY SLEPP IN JESUS."

Sacred to the memory of the REV. MAXIMILIAN WILSON, WESLEYAN MINISTER, who died Jany. 13, 1857; in the 55 Year of his ministry, and in the 80th Year of his age.

After a long laborious, and useful life, he calmly an peacefully entered on his eternal reward, securely reposing on the merits of his gracious Redeemer.

To the Memory of THE REV. PETER SAMUEL WHO DIED AT BEDFORD, AUGUST 26TH, 1874 IN THE 71ST YEAR OF HIS AGE, AND THE 44TH YEAR OF HIS MINISTRY.

He settled in Bedford as Supernumerary in 1868, and his amiable disposition, catholic spirit and readiness to aid in every good work won the esteem of the members of all Denominations in the Town.

To the memory of the REV. ROBERT MAXWELL, WHO DIED 20TH. FEBRUARY, 1879, AGED 69 YEARS of his ministry.

He entered the ministry in the year 1831, and on becoming a Supernumerary, came to reside at Bedford, where for his wise counsel, his blameless life, and his timely visits to the poor, sick and the dying he was greatly esteemed.

THIS TABLET IS INSCRIBED TO THE MEMORY OF HIS VIRTUES BY THOSE WHO HAVING BEEN EDIFIED BY HIS MINISTRY WISH TO PERPETUATE HIS NAME.

Newnham Avenue Church

The Official Opening of the dual-purpose Church Hall in Newnham Avenue, Bedford was on 25th June 1953 (as seen in the photograph here).

The hall and the extension added subsequently have been incorporated in the new suite of buildings of Priory Methodist Church.

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Last Updated on: 30 July 2001
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