West Bergholt: Nonconformity

Page 37

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.

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In 1656 a Quaker parishioner disturbed the Sunday service. (fn. 1) There were 10 protestant nonconformists in 1676. (fn. 2) A dissenting minister, William Squirell, lived in West Bergholt in 1799 but there is no record of his congregation. (fn. 3) The parish developed a strong nonconformist element during the earlier 19th century, dissenting congregations exceeding those at the parish church in 1851. (fn. 4)

Nine Wesleyan Methodists met on the heath in 1799; (fn. 5) a chapel was built c. 1822 on the Colchester to Sudbury road. In 1829 it had a congregation of c. 20 'Arminian' Methodists. In 1851 the minister was from the Culver Street Methodist chapel, Colchester, and attendances averaged c. 50 at the morning service and c. 80 in the afternoon. (fn. 6) The chapel may have been abandoned by 1853. It was purchased by Daniell's brewery and demolished by 1866. (fn. 7)

In 1829 George Francis, of the Eld Lane Baptist chapel, Colchester, occasionally preached in West Bergholt to between 30 and 60 people. There is no record of a chapel and the meetings may have been short-lived. (fn. 8)

A Primitive Methodist chapel was erected in 1838 on the later Chapel Road. By 1851 it held 240 and attracted congregations of 174 in the morning, 242 in the afternoon, and 100 in the evening. (fn. 9) By 1870 it was registered for marriages. (fn. 10) It was rebuilt in 1871, and was attended by c. 130 people in 1873. Five preachers and three prayer leaders of the Hadleigh Primitive Methodist circuit lived in the parish in 1872. In 1878 the chapel was replaced by a larger one further north on Chapel Road, which by 1894 had been enlarged. (fn. 11) That chapel, a late 19th- century brick and tile building, was still open and served by its own minister in 1995. The earlier chapel, a small brick and slate building, was used as a shop in 1995.


  • 1. E.R.O., Q/SR 370/100; West Bergholt Local Hist. Group, West Bergholt in Hist. (priv. print. 1986), 28; J. Besse, Sufferings of the Quakers (1733), i. 92.
  • 2. Compton Census, ed. Whiteman, 51.
  • 3. E.R.O., Acc. C210 (uncat.): J. B. Harvey Colln. vi, p. 61.
  • 4. A. F. J. Brown, Meagre Harvest, 134-5.
  • 5. E.R.O., Acc. C539 (uncat.).
  • 6. P.R.O., HO 129/8/205; E.R.O., Q/CR 3/1/30, 3/1/31; ibid. D/CT 33; ibid. D/DL1 M11; Church of England Rec. Centre, Nat. Soc. file.
  • 7. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1866); E.R.O., D/DL1 M11; ibid. D/NM 2/1/25; O.S. Map 6", Essex XXVII (1881 edn.).
  • 8. E.R.O., Q/CR 3/2/30; V.C.H. Essex, ix. 341.
  • 9. V.C.H. Essex, ix. 348; P.R.O., HO 129/8/205; E.R.O., D/CT 33; ibid. D/DL1 M11; O.S. Map 6", Essex XXVII (1881 edn.).
  • 10. Lond. Gaz. 24 June 1870, 3122.
  • 11. E.R. iii. 5; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1894); Wormell, Hist. Bergholt, 25; E.R.O., D/NM 2/9/3; D/NM 2/5/20; ibid. Acc. C152 (uncat.).