A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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Places of Worship (fn. 1)
A room on the first floor of 434 Foleshill Road was registered for worship by the Apostolic Church in 1937, and a church in Bird Street in 1939. Neither was in use in 1954, (fn. 2) but by 1965 services were being held in the Friends' Meeting House in Hill Street while a site for a new church was being sought. (fn. 3)
Assemblies of God
The Assemblies of God movement was introduced into Coventry by a Mr. Miles who, in August 1933, pitched a tent in Albany Road for a three months 'revival' campaign. Meetings were later held in the Tabernacle, a rented hall in Cambridge Street. (fn. 4) The sect had little following until a series of successful meetings at the Baths Hall and the Corn Exchange in 1935 increased membership from twelve to 300. The first regular meeting-hall, a brick building in Much Park Street, was opened in 1937 and is known as the Full Gospel Assembly. In 1958 there were branch Sunday schools at Tile Hill, Canley, Coundon, and Stoke Aldermoor. (fn. 5) Another congregation originated as a domestic meeting in 1941, and from 1947 to 1954 occupied a room in Paradise School in Station Street East. From 1953 the members met also at Courthouse Green School. A church was opened at Armfield Street, Bell Green, in 1956. (fn. 6) In 1960 the New Testament Church of God was established in Old Church Road, Bell Green. In 1966 it had 84 members with a Sunday school of over 150. (fn. 7)
BROAD STREET, Foleshill Baptist chapel, a redbrick building with stone dressings in the Perpendicular style, was erected in 1924 on a site originally bought in 1913. The chapel, which seated 550, replaced that in Webster Street. (fn. 8) There were 101 church members in 1963. (fn. 9)
CANAL ROAD (formerly LADY LANE), LONGFORD, FOLESHILL Salem (General) Baptist Chapel was built in 1765, rebuilt in 1807, and enlarged in 1825, when there were 320 members. (fn. 10) In 1851 it provided sittings for 600 and was said to have an average congregation of 450, with 265 Sunday-school attenders; (fn. 11) there were 320 church members in 1855. (fn. 12) The chapel was rebuilt a third time in 1872 to seat 864. (fn. 13) There were 155 members in 1963. (fn. 14)
COW LANE Particular Baptist chapel was opened in 1793 for the growing congregation which had up to that date been meeting at Jordan Well. The minister, John Butterworth, gave up his garden in Cow Lane, to provide a site for the new chapel, which was a galleried building seating about 800 and approached by an archway through Butterworth's house. (fn. 15) In spite of a small secession in 1796, (fn. 16) perhaps connected with the attempt of a temporary preacher to gain a permanent position in the chapel, (fn. 17) the community steadily gathered strength. In 1799 Francis Franklin became co-pastor and succeeded Butterworth as minister when the latter died in 1803. Under Franklin, who was minister at Cow Lane until his death in 1852, the Sunday school, with a burial ground behind, was added in 1824 and various improvements were made to the chapel in the 1840s and after 1850. (fn. 18) Congregations in 1851 numbered 336 with 174 Sunday-school attenders in the morning, and 392 in the evening. (fn. 19) Differences within the congregation which had developed during Franklin's ministry, both on theological topics and on the conduct of services, were eventually settled by a series of secessions in the 1850s, but, after this period of disruption, membership and morale both revived in the latter half of the century. (fn. 20)
In 1881 the church was conducting a mission in Lord Street, with services on week-day evenings and a Sunday school. (fn. 21) A new chapel was opened in Queen's Road in 1884, and five years later the old buildings in Cow Lane were adapted for lectures and classes. In 1931 they were reopened briefly by Queen's Road as a club and social centre for the unemployed, but they were sold a year later, and the work was transferred to the Francis Franklin Institute, a converted house in Queen's Road destroyed by bombing in the Second World War. (fn. 22) In 1948 the corporation demolished the minister's house and adapted the old chapel and Sunday school in Cow Lane for use by the reference department of the city library. (fn. 23) The structure, much altered both inside and out, is the only early nonconformist place of worship to survive in central Coventry. The redbrick front has a central doorway, round-headed windows, and a tablet in the gable commemorating the building's erection in 1793. A drawing of 1855 shows the front with two recently-added projecting porches and a semi-circular gable window. (fn. 24) At the same date the interior had galleries on three sides, box pews, and a high pulpit. (fn. 25)
FASEMAN AVENUE, TILE HILL Limbrick Wood Baptist Chapel was opened in 1956. (fn. 26) It is a small rectangular building of yellowish brick with a large window in its west wall. There were 62 church members in 1963. (fn. 27)
GOSFORD STREET General Baptist chapel was opened in 1869 to replace the chapel in Whitefriars Lane. (fn. 28) The new chapel was built of red brick with stone dressings to the design of J. D. Webster of Sheffield, and provided sittings for about 700 persons. It stood some distance back from the street and was approached by an 'ornamented way'. (fn. 29) A Sunday service in 1881 attracted 250 attenders. (fn. 30)
After the destruction of St. Michael's Baptist Chapel, Hay Lane, in 1940, that church joined the Gosford Street congregation, whose chapel had also been badly damaged, and up to 1948 the united church worshipped in the lecture hall attached to the Gosford Street premises. By that date sites had been acquired at Meredith Road, Stoke, and Quinton Park for two new causes which were to be established under the control of a joint church called Gosford St. Michael's Baptist Church. Thenceforward ex-members of the Gosford Street chapel for the most part attended at Meredith Road and those from Hay Lane at Quinton Park. Gosford Street chapel was itself closed in 1951; it was sold in 1953 and was subsequently used as a commercial showroom. (fn. 31)
HAY LANE. St. Michael's Baptist Chapel came into being as the result of a secession from Cow Lane in 1856. (fn. 32) On Rosevear's resignation from the ministry there his close adherents among the congregation, who were unwilling to lose his services, decided to build a new chapel. A site was bought at the corner of Bayley Lane and Hay Lane and in 1858 the chapel was opened and the church formally constituted with a membership of 56. The architect was James Murray and the building was the first nonconformist chapel in Coventry to be designed in the Gothic style. Its features included buttressed stone walls, stained-glass windows, a vaulted interior, and a small tower with a spire. This elaborate structure cost nearly £5,000 and the congregation was unable to meet the expense. It could not even pay Rosevear a small salary in spite of a rise in membership, from 106 at the end of 1858 to 142 in 1861, and he resigned in the latter year. However, the congregation continued (though the numbers declined), at first under occasional preachers, and from 1864 onwards under a succession of ministers, (fn. 33) until Rosevear returned in 1872; the building debt was finally cleared in the same year and the congregation began to revive. Rosevear remained as minister until 1891. (fn. 34)
HINCKLEY (formerly Ansty) ROAD, Sowe General Baptist chapel, a small, very plain, brick building, was built in 1840 to seat 119. There was an average morning congregation of 50 in 1851 and a Sunday school of 48. (fn. 37) In 1901 (fn. 38) a new and larger chapel was built beside the old one. This is a red-brick building with stone dressings and round-headed windows. In 1963 there were sittings for 300, and 89 church members. (fn. 39)
JESMOND ROAD, HARNALL. In 1917 Frank Penfold founded a 'People's Mission' in Harnall. After two years in hired rooms the mission established itself in a converted ex-army hut in Jesmond Road which was opened for worship in 1919. The church joined the Baptist Union in 1925. In 1932 the hut was replaced by the Jesmond Hall, built on the same site (fn. 40) to seat 150. There were 87 church members in 1963. (fn. 41)
JORDAN WELL Particular Baptist chapel, built in 1723-4, (fn. 42) is the first known Baptist meeting-house in Coventry, though there was said to have been an independent Baptist church there by 1710. (fn. 43) There were just over 40 members in 1723, and 49 by 1733. (fn. 44) From 1726 onwards, after the church had been reorganized, the names are known of a succession of ministers, beginning with John Brine from Kettering. None of them seems to have stayed very long and from about 1736 to 1750 the congregation was without a pastor. With the appointment of John Butterworth as minister in 1753 (fn. 45) church membership began to increase, from about 50 in the early 1760s to about 72 in 1766. (fn. 46) It is possible that these new members included some of the community of General Baptists in Coventry which seems to have been finally dispersed some time after 1763. (fn. 47) In 1793, when the numbers had risen to 142 (fn. 48) and outgrown the accommodation available at Jordan Well, the congregation moved to a new chapel in Cow Lane.
The old chapel stood in one of the courts leading off Jordan Well and was a small square building with a high-pitched roof. In the 1860s there were still traces of stone pilasters to the front, a central doorway, and round-headed windows. (fn. 49) At that time, when it was still owned by the Cow Lane congregation, it was occupied as four tenements, the conversion presumably having taken place after the period of occupation by the Methodists in the early 19th century. (fn. 50) The building was sold between 1888 and 1891, and was pulled down about 1920-1. (fn. 51)
LAWRENCE SAUNDERS ROAD, RADFORD Baptist chapel, a temporary weather-boarded building, with sittings for 200, was opened in 1932 on a site acquired in 1929, (fn. 52) and had 89 members in 1963. (fn. 53)
LENTON'S LANE, HAWKESBURY, Sowe Zion Particular Baptist Chapel was built in 1845 to seat 186. In 1851 there was an average congregation of about 100 with an attendance of 90 at the Sunday school. (fn. 54) The chapel is a red-brick building, with round-headed windows, which was refaced in the 20th century. (fn. 55) There is an extensive graveyard at the rear of the chapel and a smaller one on one side. In 1963 there were sittings for 200 and a church membership of 36. (fn. 56)
LOWER FORD STREET. Particular Baptists who maintained a strict Calvinist theology began to meet at a house in Coventry in the 1820s. For some years they hired the Cow Lane chapel before they were divided by a controversy which arose over the doctrine of baptism. Thereafter several of the group attended the Bedworth Strict Baptist church until a member of the Bedworth congregation made his house in Coventry available to them in 1849. They later moved to a grocer's place in Cross Cheaping, where a large converted room (fn. 57) was opened in 1850 and christened 'the Little Zoar'. In 1851 there were sittings there for 60, and average congregations of 25 in the morning and 40 in the evening. (fn. 58) A new chapel, 'Rehoboth', (fn. 59) was opened in Lower Ford Street in 1857, providing sittings for 360, (fn. 60) and a Sunday service in 1889 attracted about 100 attenders. (fn. 61) The church was associated with the 'Gospel Standard' section of the denomination. (fn. 62) The chapel is a very plain red-brick structure with twin doorways to the gabled front.
MEREDITH ROAD, STOKE Baptist chapel was built in 1950, with accommodation for approximately 240. It was designed by C. E. A. Andrews, (fn. 63) and is a plain rectangular building of pre-cast concrete faced with brick. In 1963 there were sittings for 200 and 98 church members. (fn. 64) By 1965 an adjoining site had been acquired for a new chapel.
QUEENSLAND AVENUE, HEARSALL Baptist church was formed in 1936 by a group of members from the congregation of Queen's Road chapel. Services were held in the Sunday school in Queensland Avenue, attached to the Queen's Road chapel, (fn. 65) until in 1962 the new chapel was opened on the adjoining site at the junction of Queensland Avenue and Fife Road. This is a brick building with a stone-faced vestibule and memorial chapel. In 1963 there were seats for 180, and 132 church members. (fn. 66)
QUEEN'S ROAD Baptist chapel was opened in 1884, to replace the old Cow Lane chapel as a place of worship, and provided sittings for 1,000. (fn. 67) Church membership then stood at over 600. (fn. 68) The chapel is a galleried building, of red brick with Bath stone dressings, designed by G. and I. Steane of Coventry (fn. 69) in a late-19th-century version of the Perpendicular style. The front has a central traceried window, and a square tower at its north-east angle. In 1937 about 60 members of the church at Queen's Road were dismissed to form a new church at Queensland Avenue. (fn. 70) In 1963 church membership was 563, and branch chapels were being served at Shilton, Sowe, and Wolston. (fn. 71)
QUINTON PARK. Members of the former St. Michael's church in Hay Lane began work in the district in 1948 with services in a room at the Community Centre. In 1952 they opened a brickbuilt hall (fn. 72) which served until 1957 when the new chapel was opened. This was designed by A. Robinson, of F. B. Andrews and Son of Birmingham, (fn. 73) and was built of brown brick in a simple contemporary style. There were sittings for 350, and 164 church members in 1963. (fn. 74)
UNION PLACE (formerly Green Lane), LONGFORD, FOLESHILL General Baptist chapel was built in 1827 to seat 580. It is a square galleried building with red-brick walls, partly covered with stucco, standing in a small graveyard. There are additions of 1885-6. A Sunday afternoon attendance of 205 was claimed in 1851, (fn. 75) and in 1855 there was a church membership of 93. (fn. 76) In 1963 there were sittings for 450, and 47 church members. (fn. 77)
WEBSTER STREET, Foleshill Baptist chapel, a building of wood and corrugated iron originally built as an isolation hospital and later used as a gymnasium, was opened in 1907. It was subsequently enlarged to seat about 300. In 1924 the congregation moved to a new chapel in Broad Street, but the Webster Street building continued to be used for some time as a Sunday school. (fn. 78) It was sold c. 1957, and a telephone exchange now (1964) occupies the site.
WHITEFRIARS LANE. About 1822 a congregation, numbering fourteen, of General Baptists of the New Connexion began to meet, under the auspices of the Warwickshire Association, in a room in Bell Court off Much Park Street. In 1825, when there was a church membership of 30 with 154 schoolchildren, a new chapel in Whitefriars Lane was opened, with 300 sittings. (fn. 79) Theological differences resulted in a dissolution and reorganization of the church in 1827. (fn. 80) In 1851 congregations numbered 280 in the morning, with 117 Sunday-school attenders, and 170 in the evening. (fn. 81) Classrooms were added to the building and improvements made to the interior which, with a gallery, accommodated over 500. (fn. 82) It began to be felt, however, that the area of Whitefriars Lane was not a favourable one for the chapel and in 1864 a site on the north side of Gosford Street was acquired (fn. 83) where a new chapel was opened in 1869. (fn. 84) The old building in Whitefriars Lane, 'disreputable, dirty, dusty, and woebegone', later became a mission church of St. Michael's parish. (fn. 85)
Bethel Evangelical Church
The Bethel Evangelical Church began operations in Coventry in 1937, when a group of evangelists set up a marquee on vacant ground in Corporation Street. Subsequent meeting-places included the Friends' meeting-house in Holyhead Road, a new marquee in Leicester Street, and the Y.M.C.A. hall, before the congregation moved into a new church at Spon End in 1940. This, a wooden building, was blown from its foundations during the air attacks of 1940, but was subsequently repaired. (fn. 86)
About 1850 five members seceded from Cow Lane Baptist church and formed a Brethren's meeting. A Mr. S. Dolby opened a meeting-room in Cherry Street shortly afterwards, (fn. 87) and this is known to have been in use in 1872 when there were 250 sittings. (fn. 88) About 1877 a second group of Brethren began to meet in a hall in Hales Street. These were 'Darbyite' or 'exclusive' Brethren, while the Cherry Street congregation were 'Mullerite' or 'open'. (fn. 89) In 1889 a journalist found about 50 persons assembling at Cherry Street and about 70, 60 of them women, at Hales Street. (fn. 90) The Hales Street meeting-place, which provided sittings for 100, (fn. 91) ceased to be registered for worship in 1913, (fn. 92) and Cherry Street in 1954, when the registration was transferred to the Hill Street Gospel Hall. (fn. 93) Other Brethren's meeting-rooms in use from time to time were situated in Holyhead Road (1904), (fn. 94) King William Street, Harnall (1904), (fn. 95) Bishop Street (1929), (fn. 96) Warwick Street, Earlsdon (1946-c. 1954), (fn. 97) and Grange Avenue, Binley (1955-c.1964). (fn. 98)
Catholic Apostolic Church
The Catholic Apostolic Church was 'planted' in Coventry about 1868 by an evangelist from Leamington. In 1888 the services were being conducted by a priest who travelled from Birmingham. (fn. 99) The first chapel, in Well Street, was open in 1869. (fn. 100) It had formerly been used as an infant school, (fn. 101) and in 1872 was said to provide sittings for 130. (fn. 102) A service in 1881 attracted 49 attenders. (fn. 103) The worshippers moved to a newly-built chapel in Ford Street in 1889, where a congregation of about 30 was reported in 1913. (fn. 104) The Ford Street building was designed by H. W. Chataway, and was built of red brick with Bath stone dressings in the 'plain Gothic' style. It provided sittings for 156. (fn. 105) Services ceased to be held at the chapel some years before the Second World War, and it was used from 1948 by the Presbyterian Church of Wales. (fn. 106)
A Christadelphian Ecclesia was formed about 1895, (fn. 107) and was meeting in 1900 (fn. 108) and 1904 (fn. 109) in a room in Priory Row. By 1911 the congregation had moved to the Masonic Hall in Little Park Street, (fn. 110) where membership was said to number about 300 in 1937. (fn. 111) The Wycombe Hall, Upper Well Street, was registered for public worship from 1940 to 1957 (fn. 112) and was replaced by a hall in Grosvenor Road. (fn. 113) There was also a meeting-hall in Kingfield Road in 1940. (fn. 114)
Christadelphians were meeting in Foleshill in 1929, at a place behind the Co-operative Stores in Lockhurst Lane. (fn. 115) The Hermitage Hall in Longfellow Road, Stoke, was registered for public worship in 1953. (fn. 116)
A Christian Believers' chapel and People's Institute existed at Alderman's Green, Foleshill, from 1859. It had been closed by 1925. (fn. 117)
The first Christian Science group in Coventry was meeting at the Holyhead Hall, Holyhead Road, in 1929, (fn. 118) but this 'was not an authorized branch of "The Mother Church"' in Boston, Massachusetts. (fn. 119) The first recognized society met in rooms in Cross Cheaping from 1936, (fn. 120) before moving, in 1941, to Warwick Avenue, Earlsdon. (fn. 121) There, about 1946, the first Church of Christ Scientist was formed. (fn. 122) A new place of worship was opened for this church in Regent Street in 1958. (fn. 123)
Church of Christ
Church of Christ services began about 1947 in John Hough's Mission. A church was opened in Queen Street in 1953, and was largely built by the members. A Church of Christ meeting-hall was also built in Swanswell Street, Harnall, in the same year. It was designed by C. F. Redgrave and Partners of Coventry to seat 150 and was constructed of brick with an effective use of quarry tiles. The actual building work was done by church members. (fn. 124)
Congregationalists and Independents
BELL GREEN ROAD, FOLESHILL Bell Green Congregational Chapel, a large church hall, was built in 1930 (fn. 125) and in 1959 provided sittings for 400. (fn. 126) The church was formed, as Bell Green Mission Church, by the Revd. A. R. Bromage in 1926 when services were held in the School House, Bell Green Road. This was a hired hall, which had at first been used as an infants' day school and was then a Salvation Army 'barracks'. Because of the large attendance the hall was extended a few months later when there were 137 church members and 214 children at the Sunday school. In 1929 the church was received into the Congregational Union of England and Wales as a branch of the Foleshill Road church. (fn. 127) Church membership in 1964 was 59. (fn. 128) In 1964 a new building was started on the adjoining site.
BENNETTS ROAD Keresley Congregational Church was formed in 1890. In 1964 there were sittings for 150 and a church membership of 30. (fn. 129)
THE CHESILS, STIVICHALL West Orchard Congregational Chapel, a temporary building, was opened in 1947 (fn. 130) to replace West Orchard chapel, destroyed by bombing in the Second World War. In 1952 a permanent chapel, designed by G. A. Steane of Coventry, (fn. 131) was erected on a large corner site at the junction of the Chesils and Baginton Road. It is a building of variegated brick with curved ends, a projecting porch, round-headed windows, and a low tower. Connected to the chapel are ancillary buildings including a large hall. In 1964 there were sittings for 400 and a church membership of 133. (fn. 132)
FOLESHILL ROAD, FOLESHILL Congregational chapel was built in 1795 to seat 600. The church was formed in 1796 with 12 members. Its first pastor was Jonathan Evans who was succeeded, after his death in 1809, by Nathaniel Rowton. (fn. 133) In 1851 there was said to be an average attendance, including that at the Sunday school, of 580. (fn. 134) Church membership about this time was 68, and in 1855, in spite of some depletions, was 'larger. . . than at any former period'. (fn. 135) It stood at 113 in 1964. (fn. 136)
The building is the only nonconformist place of worship within the boundaries of the modern city which has a continuous record of use since the 18th century. It stands in a graveyard of 2 a. at the junction of Foleshill Road and Old Church Road (formerly Chapel Lane). In its original form it was a plain red-brick structure with a central cupola on the roof and two tiers of round-headed windows. (fn. 137) Alterations have included new windows and cement facing to the front wall. In 1961 a glazed vestibule replaced the original porch. (fn. 138) Internally the chapel has galleries on three sides, but few original fittings. New pews and an organ were installed in 1882, and in 1901 a pulpit (altered later) was brought from Vicar Lane chapel. There were 400 sittings in 1964. Memorial tablets include one to the founder, Jonathan Evans (d. 1809). Vestries and a schoolroom at the rear of the chapel, built in 1796, were enlarged two years later to serve as a minister's house. This still stands as well as a school building of 1798, raised in height in 1809. Other school buildings date from 1848 and later. (fn. 139)
GOSFORD STREET. A room in New Court, off Gosford Street, was used for preaching (probably about 1800) by Mr. Eagleton, father of John Eagleton (minister of Vicar Lane Independent Chapel from 1812 to 1819), whose adherents later invited Mr. Eagleton's son to be their pastor. John Eagleton's sympathies began to veer at this period in his career from Arminianism towards Calvinism and he accordingly built up the congregation, which his father had originally gathered, as an Independent church. Because of the increase in numbers a new chapel, accommodating nearly 700, was built at the bottom of Gosford Street in 1808, but the chapel trustees subsequently transferred the responsibility for it to an individual who, out of dislike for Eagleton's Calvinist views, closed the chapel about 1810. The congregation was temporarily dispersed, but in 1812 joined the church in Vicar Lane where Eagleton became minister, and the chapel in Gosford Street was used by a body of Wesleyans. (fn. 140)
HAREFIELD ROAD, STOKE Congregational chapel, a red-brick building with stone dressings in the Perpendicular style, was registered for public worship in 1929. (fn. 141) In 1964 it provided sittings for 400, and there was a church membership of 180. (fn. 142)
HAWKES MILL LANE, Brownshill Green, Coundon. Brownshill Green Congregational Chapel, a small red-brick building seating 100, was opened in 1887 by the Vicar Lane church. (fn. 143) Church membership in 1964 was seventeen. (fn. 144)
HOCKING ROAD, WYKEN. Wyken Congregational Chapel was built in 1935 (fn. 145) at the junction of Farren Road and Hocking Road. The church was formed in 1931, (fn. 146) and the congregation met at first at the Wyken Institute (subsequently the Co-operative Hall), before moving to the chapel. (fn. 147) In 1954-5 a new building, designed by C. F. Redgrave and Partners of Coventry, was erected on an adjoining site in Hocking Road. This building is of brick, with concrete panels and an entrance wall faced with Cotswold stone; it provided sittings for 210. (fn. 148) Church membership was 109 in 1964. (fn. 149)
HOLYHEAD ROAD Congregational chapel, designed by J. A. Parker of Coventry, was opened in 1953 (fn. 150) to accommodate the congregations which had formerly worshipped in the Vine Street and Well Street chapels. It occupies a large site at the corner of Holyhead Road and Moseley Avenue and is flanked by lower buildings containing halls, schoolrooms, and a caretaker's flat. In 1964 the chapel provided sittings for 250, and the church had 106 members. (fn. 151)
PARK GATE ROAD (formerly Keresley Lane), Foleshill. Holbrooks Congregational Free Church was registered for public worship in 1911. It was replaced by a second building, of wood, in 1928. (fn. 152)
RADFORD ROAD. In 1825 the West Orchard church established a permanent Sunday school at Radford, in a house previously used for occasional preaching. (fn. 153) A chapel was opened in Radford Road in 1864, (fn. 154) on the corner of what later became Beake Avenue, and this was also used as a Congregational day school, and, briefly, as a board school. (fn. 155) In 1881 a Sunday service there attracted 70 attenders. (fn. 156) A new school hall was built close-by in 1929 on the corner of Villa Road, and this became the church when the old chapel was sold in 1937. (fn. 157) The church continued as a joint church with West Orchard until 1935, when a full-time ministry was established. There were only 30 members in 1948, and from 1948 to 1951 the minister was also responsible for Keresley chapel. In 1964 there were sittings for 250 and membership had risen to 163. (fn. 158)
VICAR LANE Independent Chapel. The small and struggling church, which the successors of Samuel Basnett's Congregationalist following had re-formed by the late 1680s, relied for its survival into the 18th century on the Presbyterian church at Bedworth, and was only able to establish itself in 1724 as an Independent church, in a chapel in Vicar Lane, with the support of seceders from the Great Meeting. (fn. 161) The chapel was built on a site (part of the Cross Keys Inn fronting Smithford Street and Vicar Lane) and with money given by John Moore, an alderman, who also left property in trust to provide funds for repairs and a minister's stipend. (fn. 162) A specific regulation for the election of an assistant pastor, 'by the consent of the pastor, the majority of the church, and contributors of the audience' after due public notice, (fn. 163) was probably included among the rules governing the new church because of the recent split in the Great Meeting.
Membership increased steadily under Patrick Simson (1725-73), the first minister of the new chapel: in 1730 he had a congregation of 83; 78 more had joined it by 1740 and a further 72 by 1750, some, at least, of whom were probably anti-Unitarians who are known to have seceded from the Great Meeting to Vicar Lane at this period. (fn. 164) The election in 1776 of Jacob Dalton as minister caused a division in the Vicar Lane congregation, some of whom broke away to form a new chapel in West Orchard, while the parent congregation dwindled. Thomas Saunders (nephew of the earlier Thomas and grandson of Julius), who was minister from 1785 to 1801, made great efforts to build up the congregation through prayer meetings and lectures, but after his death there was a vacancy of over a year and membership fell to 38. In 1812, however, John Eagleton came as minister, bringing with him his congregation of Calvinist sympathizers from the chapel in Gosford Street which had recently been closed to them, (fn. 165) and a period of revival began with the appointment of John Sibree as his successor in 1820. In 1822 the chapel was partly taken down and enlarged to accommodate 1,200, rooms were opened in Spon Street and Much Park Street for week-day meetings, and in 1833 schoolrooms for Sunday and day schools were added to the chapel building. (fn. 166) The extension of the chapel in 1822 was made possible by building over the forecourt so that the new frontage was in line with the street. This front was of two stories and five bays, the three central bays projecting and being surmounted by a pediment; there were twin entrance doorways and the windows were round-headed. The schoolrooms, with a two-storied frontage in similar style, adjoined the chapel. (fn. 167)
Numbers had risen to 338 by 1841, (fn. 168) and in 1851 congregations averaged 480, with 240 Sunday-school attenders, on Sunday mornings and 530 in the evenings. (fn. 169) Henry Ollard became co-pastor in 1850 but three years later seceded with part of the congregation. (fn. 170) The church, however, continued to thrive and in 1891 a new chapel was opened in Warwick Road. The sale of the schoolrooms and the original chapel in Vicar Lane was completed in 1897; (fn. 171) the building was destroyed in an air raid in 1941. (fn. 172)
VINE STREET Hillfields Congregational Chapel originated in work begun by the Coventry Sunday School Union in 1834, in a house off Harnall Lane. After about a year the West Orchard church accepted sole responsibility and the cause moved to a small house off High Street, Hillfields. A chapel was built at Junction Street (later called Vine Street) in 1836, (fn. 173) with sittings for 170; a Sunday afternoon service in 1851 attracted 75 attenders. (fn. 174) In 1881 there was a congregation of about 126. (fn. 175) A new chapel of brick and stone was opened in Vine Street in 1882, (fn. 176) with sittings for 300, and in 1890 the first full-time minister was appointed; services had previously been conducted by lay pastors. (fn. 177) Dependence on West Orchard was ended in 1892 with the formation of a new church. (fn. 178) The Vine Street building continued in use until 1953 (fn. 179) when a new chapel was opened in Holyhead Road for the combined Well Street and Vine Street churches. The old building was sold to the corporation (fn. 180) and was afterwards used as an annexe by the Frederick Bird School. (fn. 181)
WALSGRAVE (formerly Sowe) ROAD, (fn. 182) STOKE Congregational chapel, a 'small neat' building, was opened in 1836 as a branch of the Vicar Lane chapel. It stood at the entrance to Stoke village, in a district then known as the Ball. (fn. 183) It was in a plain Gothic style with three lancet windows at the centre of the front. (fn. 184) In 1851 there were sittings for 170, and a general congregation of 40 with 70 Sunday school children. (fn. 185) This chapel may have been the same as the Ball Hill Congregational Chapel at the junction of Walsgrave Road and Marlborough Road, which was registered for public worship from 1908 to 1929 when it was sold and replaced by the chapel in Harefield Road. (fn. 186)
WARWICK ROAD Congregational chapel, seating 900, which replaced the chapel in Vicar Lane, was built between 1889 and 1891 with the aid of a legacy of £1,000 under the will (proved 1888) of David Spencer. (fn. 187) The chapel was designed by G. and I. Steane of Coventry (fn. 188) and is a large building of red brick with stone dressings, having an impressive front in the Renaissance style flanked by domed octagonal turrets. Internally there are galleries and an apse for organ and choir. In 1964 a projecting vestibule was added to the front. There were then sittings for 950 and 574 church members. (fn. 189)
WELL STREET. During the alterations that were made to the Vicar Lane chapel in 1822 its congregation used the Lancasterian school at the bottom of Cross Cheaping. Sibree decided that this was a suitable area in which to establish a new chapel, and, at his suggestion, Nathaniel Rowton sent round handbills announcing to 'the poor' that the building would be retained as a 'free place of worship' for them. Several hundred soon responded and in 1827, when sufficient money was available, a permanent chapel, which with its galleries seated 600, was built in Well Street. Rowton was minister there until his health broke down in 1834; during his ministry he also held services at Bablake, both for the almsmen and for the schoolboys. Before he had recovered another minister had been appointed, but in 1845, by which date the congregation had dispersed and the chapel had been temporarily closed, Rowton was invited to return. He finally retired in 1850, (fn. 190) having re-established the congregation, which in 1851 numbered about 140 at a morning service with an attendance of 56 at the Sunday school. (fn. 191) By 1881 a Sunday service was attracting 348 attenders. (fn. 192)
In 1850 a new building to house the Sunday school was added behind the chapel. (fn. 193) Further important enlargements took place in 1887, when the number of sittings was increased to 800, and in 1937, when a memorial hall was added, with sittings for 250. (fn. 194) The chapel was destroyed by bombing in 1940, after which the members worshipped for a time at Warwick Road. After the Second World War it was decided to unite with the Vine Street church, (fn. 195) and in 1952 the site of the old buildings fronting Well Street and Chapel Street was exchanged with the corporation for a site for a new chapel in Holyhead Road. (fn. 196)
WEST ORCHARD Congregational chapel developed out of the division that occurred in the Vicar Lane congregation after Dalton's election in 1776. The members who broke away assembled in various private houses, under John Griffith as their minister, until in 1777 they built a small chapel in West Orchard, seating about 300. After Griffith's departure in 1781 there was a long vacancy before George Burder was appointed in 1783. (fn. 197) His enthusiasm and gifts as a preacher attracted new members; as a result galleries had to be erected in 1783-4 (fn. 198) and in 1787 the chapel was further enlarged to seat about 600. (fn. 199) Burder was also responsible for the opening of the Sunday schools, the first to be built in Coventry, in Hill Street in 1799. In 1820 these were moved to rooms adjoining the new chapel building in West Orchard. (fn. 200)
On Burder's departure from Coventry in 1803 he was succeeded by John Jerard who stayed for nearly 48 years. During his ministry the chapel was declared unsafe and an imposing new building was erected to the design of Stedman Whitwell; it was opened in 1820 and accommodated about 1,200. (fn. 201) The chapel had been hidden behind houses, but the new one was aligned with the street and was entered by balustraded porticoes approached by a double flight of steps. The workmanship appears to have been shoddy and the design inconvenient, for by 1855 the roof and the pews needed extensive restoration; the chapel was given a new bowed front and largely rebuilt, and most of the fittings were renewed. Afterwards it was said to be the 'most commodious, best finished, and comfortable' of the nonconformist places of worship in Coventry. (fn. 202)
In 1851 there were congregations of 359 and 383 respectively at morning and evening services. (fn. 203) A large day school and Sunday school were built at the back of the chapel in 1854. (fn. 204) In 1881 a Sunday service attracted 373 attenders. (fn. 205)
The chapel was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, and the members joined the congregation at Warwick Road. After the war it was decided to rebuild in Stivichall, at the Chesils. (fn. 206)
WOODWAY LANE, SOWE. Potter's Green Congregational Chapel was built in 1820 as a branch of Vicar Lane chapel to seat 120. (fn. 207) For some time after the chapel was opened preachers were supplied from Vicar Lane and the congregation in 1855 still included 'itinerants' from Vicar Lane. (fn. 208) In 1851 an average congregation of 70 was claimed, with a Sunday-school attendance of 100. (fn. 209) On being enlarged in 1865 it was described as in the 'plain Gothic' style. (fn. 210) It is a small building of roughcast brick with pointed windows and a projecting porch. A Sunday school on the adjacent site is dated 1892. (fn. 211) In 1964 there were sittings for 150, and a church membership of 55. (fn. 212)
The Elim movement is said to have been introduced into Coventry about 1931. (fn. 213) A mission-hall was opened in Sackville Street, Harnall, in 1933, (fn. 214) to be replaced by a church in Stoney Stanton Road in 1937. (fn. 215) In 1959 the congregation moved to a new church in David Road, Stoke, a converted workshop, seating 250. (fn. 216) The exterior was cemented in buff, with woodwork picked out in Venetian red. (fn. 217)
The feoffees of a barn and a piece of ground (to be used as a burial-ground), bought in Hill Street in 1669, included two of the eight who had been excommunicated as Quakers at the bishop's visitation in 1665. (fn. 218) A building on land adjoining the site, which belonged to one of the feoffees, (fn. 219) may have been used for the Coventry Men's Monthly Meeting which was in existence by 1670. (fn. 220) In 1678 it was agreed at the Warwickshire Quarterly Meeting that there should be a collection throughout the county for the purchase of a meeting-place at Coventry, (fn. 221) and there was a meeting-house, in HILL STREET, in existence by at least 1687 when it was visited by William Penn. (fn. 222) A new meeting-house was built in VICAR LANE on land given for the purpose in 1698. (fn. 223) Although in the 1690s the Coventry meeting seems to have been smaller in numbers or at least poorer than other meetings in the county, (fn. 224) in 1698 it supplied the names of seventeen Friends who could assist ministers of the Society in their travels, (fn. 225) and by 1730 membership had risen to between 250 and 300. (fn. 226) A subsidiary meeting was registered in 1739 in Smithford Street at the house of William Gulson, and a second (probably taking its place) was registered by Gulson in 1743 at 'Joseph Freeth's malthouse' also in Smithford Street. (fn. 227) In 1742 additional land was bought and the meeting-house in Vicar Lane enlarged. (fn. 228)
The decline of the city's cloth trade, in which many Friends were engaged, caused a corresponding decrease in membership of the meeting from about 1750 onwards, and particularly after 1820. (fn. 229) In 1851 about 30 attended the meeting on Sunday morning and about five in the afternoon, (fn. 230) and by 1872 membership had dwindled to sixteen. (fn. 231) It appears to have temporarily revived in the 1890s and it was said that adult school and mission work was then 'being earnestly carried on' by some members. (fn. 232) There were 54 members of the society in 1949. (fn. 233)
In 1778 the meeting-house in Vicar Lane consisted of a large room of two bays, with a loft or little gallery over part of it, and a smaller room with another above it. The building was said in the 1860s to have been refronted 'many years ago' and considerably altered inside and out. (fn. 234) It was later described as 'sombre and unsightly', (fn. 235) and in 1896 it was replaced by a new meeting-house in HOLYHEAD ROAD, designed by Charles Smith and Son of Reading. The old premises were sold in 1897. The Holyhead Road meeting-house was eventually found to be too expensive and was sold in its turn in 1939. (fn. 236) Temporary accommodation was then rented for meetings, (fn. 237) including premises in Thomas Street in 1936 and the Y.W.C.A. building in Queen's Road in 1951, (fn. 238) until in 1952 a new meeting-house was built on the site of the old, disused, burial-ground in HILL STREET. (fn. 239)
The International Bible Students' Association was conducting meetings in a former ragged school, New Buildings, in 1940. (fn. 240) From 1940 to 1954 a room in 10 Holyhead Road was registered for public worship as a Kingdom Hall, (fn. 241) and from 1958 another Kingdom Hall was registered, in the same road. (fn. 242) In 1959 the Witnesses were also meeting at Wheatley Street School, Ford Street. (fn. 243)
A Mormon congregation of about 80 (fn. 244) was established in Coventry by about 1850 at Spon End chapel, (fn. 245) 'an insignificant and dingy-looking place, near to Spon Causeway, at the corner of the narrow lane leading to the "Windmill Fields" '. (fn. 246) The chapel had originally been built in 1824 as an infant school, and had previously been used for services by other denominations; (fn. 247) it had sittings for 250. (fn. 248) The Latter-day Saints ceased to occupy the building in 1865, (fn. 249) when the congregation probably dissolved. (fn. 250)
No other 19th-century Mormon group is known to have met in the Coventry district although a 'Foleshill Anti-Mormon Association' existed in 1857 when the alarmed attenders at Paradise Primitive Methodist Chapel were regaled on one occasion with an extensive denunciation of the sect. (fn. 251) In 1911 the denomination briefly rented the Clarion Rooms, Broadgate, for mission work, (fn. 252) but it was not until 1958 that the Mormon church again took root, this time in George Eliot Road, Foleshill, where George Eliot's former house was converted into a chapel and social centre. Four American missionaries recruited a congregation which was said to number 89 before the end of the year. (fn. 253)
ALBANY ROAD, EARLSDON Wesleyan chapel was opened in 1923 (fn. 254) to replace an older chapel at Berkeley Road South. It occupies a corner site at the junction of Earlsdon Avenue and Albany Road and is a large cruciform building of red brick with stone dressings in the Perpendicular style. In 1940 it provided sittings for 580, and had a school hall and six other rooms. (fn. 255) A church hall was built in Earlsdon Avenue in 1959-60. (fn. 256)
ALDERMAN'S GREEN ROAD, FOLESHILL Ebenezer Free Methodist Chapel, with sittings for 450, was built in 1898, and was of brick with stone dressings. The architect was T. F. Tickner. A new Jubilee Hall and a men's institute were added in 1908 and 1921 respectively. (fn. 257)
ALDERMAN'S GREEN ROAD, FOLESHILL Brook Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1849 on the east side of the main road; it seated 184. An evening service in 1851 was attended by 90 persons. (fn. 258) A replacing chapel was completed about 1928 (fn. 259) and the old building, a small rectangular structure of red brick, was used as a workshop. The new chapel was built about 150 yards further south, having sittings for 160 and two additional rooms. (fn. 260) It was closed about 1950 when the congregation joined that of the former Wesleyan chapel on the opposite side of the road (see below). (fn. 261)
ALDERMAN'S GREEN ROAD, FOLESHILL Wesleyan chapel was built in 1840. There was an attendance of 100 at an afternoon service in 1851. (fn. 262) In 1940 it seated 150, and had a school hall and three other rooms attached to it. (fn. 263) It stands on the west side of the main road and is a rectangular brick building with round-headed windows, and a stucco front, adjoining a row of cottages of similar date. About 1950 the congregation was joined by that from the former Brook Primitive Methodist Chapel on the opposite side of the road (see above). The chapel was subsequently known as Alderman's Green Methodist Church. (fn. 264)
BEAKE AVENUE, RADFORD Methodist chapel, a oneroom structure of prefabricated concrete and brick, was designed by C. F. Redgrave and F. A. Clarke, and was opened in 1948. The congregation had previously met, since 1945, in a temporary wooden building. In 1960 a new brick chapel was built immediately to the south, at the junction of Beake Avenue and Rupert Road. The earlier building continued to be used as a hall. In 1959 the average congregation and the church membership were both said to be 50. (fn. 265)
BERKELEY ROAD SOUTH, EARLSDON Wesleyan school chapel was opened in 1884. The church was originally founded as a mission of Warwick Lane in the same road, then known as Cromwell Street, in 1870. Until 1884 the congregation worshipped in a converted derelict ribbon factory, (fn. 266) with sittings for 150. A service in 1881 attracted 80 attenders. (fn. 267) After the new chapel had been opened in Albany Road in 1923 the old premises were retained for Sunday-school work, (fn. 268) but by 1964 they were occupied by a theatre club.
BROAD STREET (formerly New Road or Brickkiln Lane), FOLESHILL Wesleyan chapel was built in 1839 to seat 76 and in 1851 returned an average attendance of 70. (fn. 269) The building in use in 1940 was of brick, with 188 sittings, three school halls, and three other rooms. (fn. 270) This was destroyed during the Second World War and replaced by a wooden hut. The congegation subsequently joined that of Bethesda Chapel, further up the Stoney Stanton Road, and the hut, which stands at the junction of Stoney Stanton Road and Broad Street, was reopened in 1962 as the Ukrainian Catholic church of St. Wladimir the Great. (fn. 271)
DALLINGTON ROAD, COUNDON Methodist chapel, a wooden ex-army hut with sittings for 100, was opened in 1946. It was superseded in 1952 by a brick building at the rear of the same site, seating 250. In 1954 there were 166 church members. (fn. 272)
DURBAR AVENUE, FOLESHILL Free Methodist chapel was opened in 1923, (fn. 273) when the premises comprised two huts dating from the First World War. In 1958 a new chapel was opened on the same site. This was designed by Redgrave and Clarke of Coventry (fn. 274) and provided sittings for 200. (fn. 275) It is built of brick with reconstituted stone panels in a simple mid-20th-century style.
ELM TREE AVENUE Lime Tree Park Methodist Chapel. The church began with meetings held in Lime Tree Avenue in 1935, which were followed in 1936 by the opening of a new brick chapel, (fn. 276) seating 300, (fn. 277) at the junction of Elm Tree Avenue and Willow Grove. There were 114 members in 1959. In 1951 some members of this church seceded and began Sunday-school and mission work at a school in Whoberley. (fn. 278)
FORD STREET Primitive Methodist chapel was opened in 1895 (fn. 279) for the congregation that had formerly worshipped at Grove Street, Harnall. The building was designed by John Wills of Derby (fn. 280) in a 'Gothic' style, in red brick with Bath stone dressings, (fn. 281) and included walls stuccoed to imitate stone. (fn. 282) In 1940 it provided sittings for 300, (fn. 283) but it was severely damaged by bombing during the Second World War and was replaced by a small wooden hut which continued in use for worship until 1948. This was demolished in 1951 and the site sold. The chapel was replaced by a new building in Macdonald Road, Wyken. (fn. 284) By 1937 the Ford Street church had established daughter causes at Heath Road, Stoke, and Woodside Avenue, Green Lane. (fn. 285)
GOSFORD STREET. The earliest followers of John Wesley in Coventry for a time met in part of the old Whitefriars house and by 1786 had the use of the auction room in the Women's Market, which, however, proved too small for them. (fn. 286) Their number had risen to 50 by 1791. (fn. 287) When the Baptist congregation moved to Cow Lane in 1793 the Wesleyans took over their disused chapel in Jordan Well and they also met subsequently, for some years, in the room in New Court off Gosford Street which Eagleton had used for preaching. Soon after the Independent congregation had been forced to leave their chapel in Gosford Street, about 1810, it came into the possession of the Wesleyans who remained there until 1834 when the structure was found to be in a dangerous condition and was taken down. (fn. 288) While their new chapel was being built in Warwick Lane they held their services at first in the Lancasterian school at the bottom of Cross Cheaping, (fn. 289) and then, for about two years, in St. Mary's Hall. (fn. 290)
GROVE STREET, HARNALL. At some date shortly after John Garner's unsuccessful mission to Sowe in 1819 (fn. 291) a community of Primitive Methodists began to meet for worship in a 'small obscure room', (fn. 292) probably in Muston's Court on the south side of Gosford Street. Another group, of 'Revivalists', were also meeting in the early 19th century, apparently in the same room in New Court off Gosford Street which had earlier been used by an Independent congregation. (fn. 293) The two communities had amalgamated by 1822 and for some years services continued to be held in New Court. In 1835 a site was bought in Grove Street, where a chapel, a small brick building (fn. 294) seating 260, was built the following year. An average congregation of 300 at evening services was claimed in 1851. (fn. 295) With the addition of galleries for the children who attended the Sunday school there was accommodation for nearly 500. (fn. 296) In 1881 a service attracted 145 attenders. (fn. 297) In 1895 the congregation moved to the new chapel in Ford Street.
HEATH ROAD, STOKE Primitive Methodist chapel, a wooden (fn. 298) ex-army hut (fn. 299) with sittings for 150, (fn. 300) was opened in 1920 (fn. 301) by the Ford Street church. (fn. 302) In 1937 there were 76 church members and 120 regular hearers. The hut was destroyed by bombing in 1940 and services were then held for some years in a smaller wooden building until a new temporary chapel had been built. This was designed by C. Redgrave of Coventry and was of pre-cast concrete. There were 140 church members in 1959. (fn. 303) In 1964 a new brick chapel was opened on the adjoining site. This is a small building in a striking mid-20th-century style with a single-pitch roof and an openwork turret.
HOLBROOKS LANE, FOLESHILL Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1847 to seat 80, and in 1851 attracted a congregation of 41 with an attendance of 39 at the Sunday school. (fn. 304) It had been closed by 1940, (fn. 305) and probably by 1936. (fn. 306)
LOCKHURST LANE, FOLESHILL Wesleyan chapel was built in 1825 to seat 90, and in 1851 returned an average attendance of 100. (fn. 307) It was rebuilt in 1875-6 (fn. 308) and additional school premises were built behind the chapel in 1906. (fn. 309) In 1940 the whole property was described as a brick chapel with 270 sittings, two school halls and nine other rooms. (fn. 310) In 1955 this second chapel, which had suffered wardamage, was said to be 'completely dilapidated', (fn. 311) and a new brick chapel was designed by Redgrave and Clarke of Coventry. This provided sittings for 150 and was opened in 1958. (fn. 312) The older premises were repaired at the same date, but were later demolished, (fn. 313) with the exception of the school building at the rear of the site.
MACDONALD ROAD, Wyken Methodist chapel, a wooden hut, was opened in 1947 for a congregation that had previously met at the Lynden Hotel. It was replaced in 1956 by a church hall of red brick with 210 sittings, designed by Redgrave and Partners, of Coventry. There was an estimated congregation of 130 in 1959. (fn. 314)
MILTON STREET, UPPPER STOKE Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1866 (fn. 315) to seat 100, and in 1881 had an attendance of eighteen. (fn. 316) It was replaced in 1920 by the chapel in Heath Road.
OLD CHURCH ROAD, BELL GREEN, FOLESHILL Wesleyan chapel was first built in 1813. (fn. 317) In 1848 it was rebuilt (fn. 318) to seat 352, and in 1851 an average congregation of 150 was claimed, with 100 Sunday-school pupils. (fn. 319) An extension at the rear was completed in 1910 (fn. 320) and in 1940 the chapel was described as a brick building seating 360, with two school halls and three other rooms. It suffered damage during the Second World War, (fn. 321) but was subsequently restored. The building is a typical nonconformist chapel of the earlier 19th century, a rectangular galleried structure of red brick with round-headed windows and a central doorway. It is now (1964) known as Bell Green Methodist Church.
PRIOR DERAM WALK, CANLEY. Some time before 1940 members of the Albany Road church began work at Canley, in huts belonging to the corporation. A wood and asbestos building, described as 'a converted henhouse', was opened in 1942, and was not replaced until 1952, when a substantial new redbrick chapel was opened at the junction of Prior Deram Walk and D'Aubeny Road. There were 40 members in 1959. (fn. 322)
RADFORD. Wesleyans were using Sunday-school premises in Radford for Sunday-evening preaching by 1840, (fn. 323) and a meeting is traceable in 1844 (fn. 324) and 1853. (fn. 325) In 1861 there were still five members of the Radford church, (fn. 326) but the work was abandoned in 1864. (fn. 327)
SPON END. A house in Spon Street was registered for public worship by James Blackett, a Wesleyan minister, in 1813. (fn. 328) Preaching services were being held at a chapel at Spon End in 1844, but were given up after the schism of 1847. (fn. 329) The building then used is possibly identifiable with that later used by the Latter-day Saints. (fn. 330)
STATION STREET WEST (formerly Carpenter's Lane), FOLESHILL Free Methodist church originated in a secession from the Lockhurst Lane church in 1832. (fn. 331) The chapel, with sittings for 150, was built in 1837. A service in 1851 attracted 70 attenders. (fn. 332) The chapel was rebuilt in 1880. (fn. 333)
STONEY STANTON ROAD, FOLESHILL Paradise (later Edgwick) Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1828 to seat 296, and in 1851 was said to have an average congregation of 110, with 130 Sunday-school pupils. (fn. 334) It was rebuilt in 1856, (fn. 335) and in 1940 had 320 sittings and thirteen additional rooms. (fn. 336) The chapel, originally known also as Bethesda, Stands at the junction of Cross Road and Stoney Stanton Road and is a rectangular building of red brick with round-headed windows.
STONEY STANTON ROAD, HARNALL Wesleyan school chapel, with sittings for 281, was opened in 1891, (fn. 337) and was built in the 'Gothic' style. (fn. 338) It was replaced in 1898 by a new chapel at the junction of Eagle Street and Stoney Stanton Road, designed by Harrison and Hattrell in the Perpendicular style. This was built of red brick with Hollington stone dressings and a small tower, and provided 700 sittings. (fn. 339) In 1940 it included three school halls and four other rooms. (fn. 340)
THOMAS STREET infants' schoolroom, built by Joseph Cash, of the Society of Friends, in 1835, had, by 1855, been used 'for some time', with Cash's permission, by a congregation of Wesleyan Reformers. (fn. 341) From 1883 (fn. 342) to at least 1893 (fn. 343) and probably 1904 (fn. 344) it was used as a Wesleyan mission, and a journalist found 60 persons in attendance in 1889, a half of them being children. (fn. 345)
WARWICK LANE Wesleyan chapel, designed by John Toone of Leamington, was opened in 1836 for the congregation which had previously been worshipping at the chapel in Gosford Street. Vestries and classrooms were later added to the building. (fn. 346) In 1851 morning congregations averaged 400, with an attendance of 40 at the Sunday school. (fn. 347)
The new Central Hall was opened in Warwick Lane in 1932, in the same position as the former chapel but occupying a larger site. (fn. 348) From March 1931 until January 1932, while building was in progress, the congregation occupied the former Baptist chapel in Cow Lane. (fn. 349) The new chapel was designed by C. Redgrave of Coventry (fn. 350) and is an impressive red-brick building in the Tudor style, having a stone entrance arch surmounted by an oriel window and a small turret. In 1940 the principal hall provided 1,379 sittings, and there were also four school halls and nineteen other rooms. (fn. 351) Serious war damage was repaired in 1946, during which time the Coventry Hippodrome was used for worship. (fn. 352)
WHEEL WRIGHT LANE, EXHALL Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1929 (fn. 353) with sittings for 180. It was built of brick with two additional rooms. (fn. 354) There were 96 church members in 1958. (fn. 355) A new chapel, which stands nearer the road, was opened in 1959. The old building continued to be used as a hall. (fn. 356)
WOODSIDE AVENUE Green Lane Methodist Church was founded from Ford Street (fn. 357) about 1934 (fn. 358) and had moved into a chapel hall by 1938. In 1940 this was described as a brick building, seating 250, with a school hall and two other rooms. (fn. 359) A new hall, seating 120, was added in 1956, and in 1959 a congregation of 80 was reported. (fn. 360)
Presbyterians and Unitarians
The Great Meeting developed out of the congregation which had originally been ministered to by John Bryan and, after his death in 1676, by his brother Gervase. (fn. 361) From 1687 onwards its members seem to have continued to use LEATHER HALL as their main meeting-place and installed galleries and pews there for their regular use. When Gervase Bryan died in 1689 Thomas Shewell, who had come as co-pastor in succession to Obadiah Grew, was the only minister left in Coventry, and he was described in 1690 as 'infirm, deafish, and unacceptable to many of the most judicious hearers, who are . . . said to be in all, in the city and from the country, 1,500'. (fn. 362) Shewell, however, was soon joined by William Tong who proved an active minister both in the city and the neighbouring districts. The system of a dual pastorate was maintained until 1716, when John Warren (1700-42) became sole pastor with an assistant, and it was revived again later in the century. (fn. 363)
In 1701 a new meeting-house, known as the Great Meeting, was opened. It stood on a piece of ground lying between SMITHFORD STREET and West Orchard (near or partly on the site of the former meeting-place, Leather Hall) which had been given by John Fox, currier, a member of the congregation. (fn. 364) The building, of red brick with stone dressings, had a front of two stories and five bays, surmounted by a pedimented gable. There was a central doorway with a segmental pediment, a semi-circular window above it, and two subsidiary doorways. (fn. 365) The interior contained galleries and was large enough to accommodate 1,000 people. (fn. 366) Seats at the Great Meeting were let at a specified scale of charges, the subscriptions, which in the 1720s were collected ward by ward, being the main source of chapel funds. The investment of these funds and appeals for donations did not save the Meeting from financial embarrassment during the 1730s; in addition, repairs carried out in 1739 left a debt of £110. (fn. 367) The financial position improved in the second half of the 18th century, as bequests continued to be made, (fn. 368) and the ministers' salaries were consequently increased. Extensive repairs to the meeting-house were carried out in 1783 while the congregation met in St. Mary's Hall for services. Three years later a new vestry building was added. (fn. 369)
The Great Meeting was reported to attract 700 hearers in 1715, (fn. 370) but the first split in the congregation occurred on the appointment of an assistant pastor in 1724. Those who left joined the struggling Congregationalist meeting to support the new Independent chapel in Vicar Lane. (fn. 371) In 1742 Warren was succeeded as pastor by a Unitarian, Ebenezer Fletcher, and in time, in spite of much acrimony and further defections from the congregation, the Great Meeting adopted, unofficially, the tenets of its minister. (fn. 372)
From the early years of the 19th century it seems that the congregation, or the subscribers, gained a greater share in the administration of the Great Meeting and the election of new ministers, though not without some opposition from the trustees. At this period also the vestry library and the Sunday school were founded, by the minister, Timothy Davis, in 1817. The school at least flourished in the latter half of the century, since a new building was needed in 1880 for the increased numbers of children, (fn. 373) but the congregation as a whole declined from an average of 290 claimed at morning services in 1851 (fn. 374) to about 115 in 1881. (fn. 375) This drop in numbers may have been responsible for the recurrence of financial problems which the minister, George Heaviside, hoped to solve temporarily by the substitution of collections for pew rents. He was overruled, however, and his salary reduced. (fn. 376)
In the 20th, as in the 19th, century (fn. 377) the congregation united worshippers of widely varying convictions. Thus in 1934 some were described as 'devoted to evangelical Christianity', others as 'advanced rationalists', yet others as 'distinctly humanitarian', while the minister, Richard Lee, had a personal interest in psychic research. (fn. 378) By 1935 the Great Meeting was far too large for the needs of the members, and was consequently sold (and later demolished); in 1936 the building of a new Unitarian church, with sittings for 200, was begun in HOLYHEAD ROAD. The new church, of rustic red brick with a small tower, was opened in 1937. (fn. 379) The design, by G. A. Steane of Coventry, was said to be 'modern' in conception, but incorporated two columns and some oak panelling from the old building. (fn. 380) While the church was being built the congregation met in the Sibree Hall, Warwick Lane. (fn. 381)
Presbyterian Church of England
A congregation was founded in 1926 (fn. 382) and worshipped for a time at the Assembly Rooms, Union Street, (fn. 383) before moving to St. Columba's Church, a new brick building in Radford Road, (fn. 384) in 1931. There were 378 communicants in 1962. (fn. 385)
Presbyterian Church of Wales
A Welsh church was formed in Coventry in 1936, with an initial membership of 30-40. Services were held in a room of the Liberal Club, Warwick Road, apart from a brief period after the air attack of 14 November 1940, when a room at West Orchard Congregational Chapel was made available. A fulltime minister was appointed in 1946, and in 1948 the former Catholic Apostolic church in Ford Street was acquired. (fn. 386)
The Salvation Army, then known as the Christian Mission, began work in Coventry in 1878, when Booth sent Caroline Reynolds, Hannah Burrell, (fn. 387) and G. Taberer to evangelize the town. The missioners at first hired the theatre in Smithford Street for services, later moving to a room off Much Park Street, (fn. 388) near the 'Black Prince'. (fn. 389) In September 1878 they opened disused factory buildings in Freeth Street for regular meetings. (fn. 390) Despite rowdy opposition, led by a caricature 'skeleton army' (fn. 391) allegedly hired by brewers and publicans, (fn. 392) the Army was said, in 1881, to attract a total of more than 1,300 persons to its Sunday meetings. (fn. 393) Much of this success may be attributed to the forceful preaching and dramatic personality of Elijah Cadman, a Coventry-born ex-chimney-sweep and boxer, popularly known as 'Fiery Elijah'. (fn. 394) Ground was subsequently lost, (fn. 395) however, and in 1889 a Sunday service was attended by only 300, 'the large majority' of whom were described as 'young men and women of the lower class'; (fn. 396) in 1893 there were only 120 soldiers on the muster-roll. (fn. 397) There were 150 in 1900. (fn. 398) Headquarters were moved in 1891 to the former Congregational chapel in Vicar Lane (fn. 399) and in 1901 to the newly-built brick Citadel in Queen Victoria Road, designed by Alexander Gordon, (fn. 400) from which, before 1916, garrisons were planted in Foleshill and Stoke.
The Salvation Army first 'opened fire' in Foleshill about 1911, when a hall in Station Street East was registered for public worship. (fn. 401) In 1922 the registration was transferred to a new hall in Broad Street, Foleshill. (fn. 402) For a short time before 1926 there was a 'barracks' in Bell Green Road, Foleshill. (fn. 403) From 1916 a Salvationists' meeting-place was open in East Street, (fn. 404) until, in 1925, the registration was transferred to a hall in Camden Street, Upper Stoke, (fn. 405) which had recently been bought from the parish of St. Mary Madgalen, Wyken. (fn. 406)
The old Citadel in Queen Victoria Road was given up in 1938, but new, permanent headquarters in Upper Well Street were not completed until 1959. (fn. 407) In the meantime work was carried on from premises in Spon Street, vacated by 1954, (fn. 408) from a meeting-place in Chester Street, and from the Army centre for social work in London Road. (fn. 409) The Upper Well Street Citadel was designed by W. H. Charles, staff architect to the Salvation Army, and included two halls, each with accommodation for 500. (fn. 410) A senior membership of about 350 was claimed c. 1959. (fn. 411)
Seventh Day Adventists
A meeting-place of the Seventh Day Adventists, in Much Park Street, is mentioned in 1929 (fn. 412) and 1936. (fn. 413) The church in St. Nicholas Street was registered for public worship in 1950. (fn. 414)
The earliest evidence of an interest in spiritualism in the Coventry district dates from about 1849 when groups of private investigators began to hold séances at several houses in the town. (fn. 415) More formal organizations of Spiritualists seem to have originated not in Coventry itself but in Foleshill: the Foleshill Spiritual Church which was built in Broad Street, Foleshill, about 1907 was said to have been founded in 1880, (fn. 416) and in 1889 members of the Foleshill Spiritualistic Society were said to have used a meeting-room at Edgwick from 1885. (fn. 417) They also met, occasionally, at the assembly room of Lockhurst Lane Co-operative Society. (fn. 418)
By 1905 the Coventry Spiritualists' Union had been formed, and a séance meeting took place in March at the Alexandra Coffee Tavern. (fn. 419) From 1911 the New Hall, Bull Street, was a Spiritualists' meeting-place, (fn. 420) and in 1929 a Progressive Spiritualist group met there. (fn. 421) Another section of the Progressive, or National, Spiritualists began to meet in 1920 at the I.L.P. headquarters in Broadgate, where they continued for four years. In 1926, as the Broadgate Progressive Spiritualist Church, the members leased King's Hall, in Vicar Lane. (fn. 422) In 1941 they were meeting in rooms in Cox Street, Harnall. (fn. 423) The society moved into a newly-built church, as the Spiritualists' National Church, in Eagle Street, Harnall, in 1959. This was designed by J. R. Sidwell of Coventry in a 'contemporary' style, to seat 200, and was built of hand-made Stamford brick, with a panel in cream aggregate slabs. (fn. 424)
From 1939 there was also a mission church of the National Spiritualist Church at 398 Foleshill Road. (fn. 425) This was known as Lockhurst Lane Spiritualist Church. (fn. 426) The Co-operative Hall was still being used for meetings in 1929, when there were also Spiritualist societies at Barras Green, Stoke, and Stoke Heath. (fn. 427)
A group of Christian Spiritualists began to meet in East Street, Harnall, in 1935, but were bombed out by 1942, moving to a 'shed' in Charterhouse Road. (fn. 428) From 1954 meetings were held in members' houses until, in 1956, a new church - the Coventry Greater World Christian Spiritualist Church - was opened in Villiers Street, Stoke. (fn. 429) A Christian Spiritualist mission-room in Edmund Street was registered for public worship from 1936 to 1939, (fn. 430) the members then moving to a room off Clarence Street, Harnall. The meeting had ceased to exist by 1954. (fn. 431)
Other groups met at the Parkside Spiritualist Church, registered for worship from 1935, (fn. 432) the Scottish Christian Spiritualist Church, Much Park Street, registered from 1937 to 1954, (fn. 433) and Coventry Psychic Centre, two rooms in a house in Fleet Street, registered from 1939 to 1954. (fn. 434)
CHARTER AVENUE, CANLEY Charter Gospel Hall was registered for public worship in 1956. (fn. 437)
COOK STREET City Mission was founded in 1856 by R. Jordan as a 'slum' mission. For more than 25 years after 1864 it was served by William Andrews. A journalist found only 40 adults, with a few children, present at a service in 1889, and concluded that the mission was then moribund. (fn. 440) It continued to be mentioned, however, until 1936. (fn. 441)
CRABMILL LANE Foleshill Crabmill Hall was mentioned in 1911. (fn. 442)
DRAPERS FIELDS meeting-room was mentioned in 1936 and 1940, (fn. 443) and was still in use in 1965.
GROVE STREET Emmanuel Church, the former Primitive Methodist chapel, was reopened in September 1895 by J. S. Nye, a former Anglican clergyman who had become an advocate of adult baptism and had been debarred by the bishop from conducting Anglican services. The congregation had first met in a room in Priory Row. (fn. 444)
HERTFORD STREET chapel was licensed for public worship in 1828. The services are said to have been 'conducted partly according to the forms of the Church of England'. The building was sold to the Coventry Library Society in 1829. (fn. 445)
HOLYHEAD ROAD mission hall is mentioned from 1911 to 1940. (fn. 446)
MACDONALD ROAD, Wyken meeting-room was registered for public worship in 1939. (fn. 447)
NEW BUILDINGS Ragged Sunday School, with the Stevens Memorial Hall, was mentioned as a place of worship in 1936. The hall was built in 1908 for the use of the ragged schools. (fn. 448)
SILVER STREET mission hall, seating 100, was in use in 1881 when a meeting attracted 90 attenders. (fn. 449)
THOMAS STREET meeting-room was registered for public worship in 1959. It was no longer in use in 1964. (fn. 452)
WARWICK AVENUE meeting-room was registered for public worship in 1962. (fn. 453)
WILDCROFT ROAD meeting-room was registered for public worship in 1937. (fn. 454)