Bladon: Nonconformity

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Bladon: Nonconformity', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990) pp. 34-35. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]


Apart from one recusant in 1577 and one or two protestant dissenters in 1682 and 1683, no nonconformist was recorded in Bladon until 1820 when the house of John Sumner, later a Methodist local preacher, was licensed as a meeting house. (fn. 37) At first the Bladon Methodists were organized jointly with those of Combe, but by 1836, when another house in Bladon was licensed, they were a separate group, with two local preachers. A chapel, on the north side of the main road, was built in 1843, when there were 69 members of the church in Bladon; until then they had often attended services at Freeland. (fn. 38) Attendance on Census Sunday 1851 was 42 adults and 56 Sunday school children in the morning, and 94 adults and 30 children in the evening, when there was no service at the parish church. (fn. 39) Numbers fell in the 1850s, probably because of competition from the Primitive Methodists and perhaps also from the Wesleyan Reformers who were very strong in Woodstock, (fn. 40) but they rose again in the 1860s, and had reached 62 by 1877. In that year a new chapel was built, in 13thcentury Gothic style to designs by W. Ranger, (fn. 41) and the old chapel was converted into a schoolroom.

An out-house in Bladon was licensed for Primitive Methodists in 1847, (fn. 42) and although no return was made in 1851 the congregation seems to have been meeting in 1857 when the rector reported two dissenting chapels, apparently both in Bladon. (fn. 43) A Primitive Methodist chapel was recorded in 1864, but the surviving building in Providence Place bears the date 1868. (fn. 44)

Later 19th-century reports of the strength of Bladon Methodism do not distinguish between Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists. In 1866 the rector complained that the only man of influence in Bladon, a small farmer and tradesman, supported dissent. There were two or three Methodist local preachers in the village in 1871, and in 1891 the only farmer in the parish was a Methodist, as were two of the three shopkeepers. (fn. 45) In 1895 the Methodists protested vigorously at the 'High Anglicanism' of the curate at the parish church. (fn. 46) Methodism was still strong in Bladon in 1985.

The Primitive Methodist chapel closed after the Methodist union of 1932, (fn. 47) and was in 1985 a private house. The former Wesleyan chapel became the Methodist church, and in 1985 was served from Kidlington.


  • 35. Ibid. MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 1732/1.
  • 36. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 1732/2; Bodl. MS. Dep. c 380, item b.
  • 37. Returns of Recusants, 1577 (Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii), 110; Bp. Fell and Nonconf. 65, n. 259.
  • 38. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 644, f. 225; ibid. MSS. d.d. Oxf. Meth. Circuit b 1; e 3; c 21, item b, f. 79; datestone on bldg.
  • 39. Ch. and Chapel, 1851, no. 56.
  • 40. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Oxf. Meth. Circuit b 2-4; below, Woodstock, Prot. Nonconf.
  • 41. Oxf. Times, 3 Oct. 1877.
  • 42. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 647, f. 47.
  • 43. Ibid. d 179, f. 62.
  • 44. P.O. Dir. Oxon. (1864); recut datestone on bldg.
  • 45. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. c 332, ff. 83v., 84; P.R.O., RG 10/1448; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. c 105, ff. 63v.-64.
  • 46. Bodl. MS. Dep. c 380, item a, pp. 51-3.
  • 47. Ibid b 158, item c, p. 127.