There were no recusants in
Woolaston in 1603 (fn. 75) but six papists were recorded
in 1676. (fn. 76) They included Charles Gwillim (d. 1724),
variously described between 1664 and 1714 as a
labourer, gentleman, and esquire, who had an estate
worth £180 in 1714. (fn. 77) Although in 1682 the names
of 68 persons who did not attend church were given,
only the Gwillim family can be identified as Roman
Catholics with certainty, and the number is exceptional; in 1683 and 1684 only ten and two persons
respectively were named, some of whom were
Quakers. (fn. 78) Nevertheless the Roman Catholic
community showed a marked increase by the period
1714-24 when 32 names were given, including
several members of the Harris and Thomas families. (fn. 79)
The Harris family lived at Brockweir (fn. 80) and having
property in Hewelsfield were buried in that parish. (fn. 81)
In 1735 there were 30 papists served by a visiting
priest once a month, (fn. 82) but in 1743 and 1750 only
eight were recorded. (fn. 83)
In 1676 there were six Protestant nonconformists, (fn. 84) most of whom were probably Quakers,
as the names of four Quakers were given between
1676 and 1681. (fn. 85) No dissenters were reported in
1750. (fn. 86) In 1809 a house at Woolaston Common was
licensed for worship, and another in the parish by
the Methodists in 1818. (fn. 87) In 1825 the parish was
visited occasionally by a dissenting teacher, (fn. 88)
and there was an increase in nonconformity from
that date. Between 1824 and 1844 eight other
buildings were licensed, including houses at
Netherend in 1825 and at Cone Mill in 1833, and
an Independents' meeting in 1830. The first Bible
Christian chapel in west Gloucestershire was built
at Woolaston Woodside in 1836; (fn. 89) the building later
contained a gallery removed in 1859 from the parish
church. (fn. 90) In 1851 a morning Sunday school and
afternoon and evening services were held, with
congregations of 43, 165, and 100 respectively. (fn. 91)
The chapel, after union with the Methodists in
1932, remained well attended until c. 1939, but
apart from a fortnightly Sunday school still held in
1969, there had then been no regular services since
c. 1959. (fn. 92) Primitive Methodists met in a private
house on the ring road at Woolaston Common (fn. 93)
before building a chapel at Netherend in 1867.
The chapel was enlarged in 1893 and a Sunday
schoolroom added in 1967. (fn. 94)
At Park Hill a chapel was built by the Particular
Baptists in 1835, and in 1851 two Sunday services
taken by a resident minister were attended by
congregations of up to a hundred. (fn. 95) The chapel was
still well attended until the 1920s, but the last
burial there took place in 1906, and the building was
closed c. 1955. (fn. 96) It is stone built and the front has
round-headed openings and a shaped parapet. At
Brockweir a Moravian church was built in 1833-3
with a residence, after the Revd. C. F. Ramftler of
Bristol had been invited by local inhabitants to
hold services in 1832. The first minister was Lewis
West (1832-70) who drew congregations of up to
200 people. After the Moravian synod had decided
to close the church, the Monmouth Group of
Baptist Churches concluded an agreement for
union between the Moravians and Baptists in
1963. There was a resident Baptist minister in 1969,
who held services in accordance with the Moravian
liturgy, and c. 17 Moravians still lived in the village.
The church is of stone, cement-rendered, with a
small bellcot. (fn. 97) The minister's residence is attached.
There is a burial ground, and near-by a public
hall was built by the Moravians in the late 19th
||B.M. Harl. MS. 594, f. 254.
||Glos. R.O., Q/SIb 1, f. 51v.; Q/SO 4; Bigland, Glos.
iii, no. 310.
||G.D.R. vols. 244, 247, 251.
||Glos. R.O., Q/SO 4.
||Ibid. Q/RNc 1.
||Bigland, Glos. iii, no. 310.
||G.D.R. vol. 285B(1), f. 7.
||G.D.R. vols. 397; 38 1A, f. 9.
||G.D.R. vols. 227, 233, 241.
||Ibid. vol. 381A, f. 9.
||Hockaday Abs. ccccxvi; T. Bright, Rise of Nonconf.
in Forest of Dean, 36.
||G.D.R. vol. 383, no. cxxxvii.
||Hockaday Abs. ccccxvi; Bright, Nonconf. in Dean, 20.
||Ex inf. Mrs. E. M. Saturley, chapel secretary.
||Ex inf. Mrs. G. A. Higgs, chapel treasurer.
||H.O. 129/576/3/1/3. The date on bldg. is 1836.
||Ex inf. Mr. G. Murphy, the surviving trustee.
||Ex inf. the Revd. J. D. Monger, the minister; see
plate facing p. 113.