Newchurch Methodist Church

In the heart of the Rossendale Valley

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History of the Church - The New Chapel 1761

Written and Researched by Joe Teasdale

In 1761, the Society at Miller Barn had increased in numbers so much that the accommodation at Miller Barn became too small, so they decided to build themselves a Chapel. A plot of land at Millend belonging to Mr. Henry Hargreaves (dyer) was secured, and the Deed of Trust for this was drawn up on 11th March, 176 a1, the trustees agreeing to pay yearly rent of 8 shillings and 4 pence (about 42 new pence). The Chapel was erected on a piece of land on which now stands the dwelling houses numbers 115 & 117 Burnley Road East, (see photo below), and tradition says that it was first built one storey high, but with the increasing congregation, a second storey was soon added.

The name Millend had been given to this district, because it was closely adjoining the corn mill which had been operating there for over 100 years, having been constructed soon after the deforestation of the Valley. Burnley Road East was not constructed until 1820. This probably accounts for the way this row of houses is at an angle to the present road, hut has the Burnley Road East postal address.

It is not known on what date this Chapel was opened or who conducted the services, but we know that John Wesley preached here on 30th August, 1766. In his journal he states “The rain in the evening obliged us to preach in the house, near a village called Newchurch. As many as could crowded in, many more stood at the door, but many more were constrained to go away”. This Chapel was included in the Colne Circuit, and visits by itinerant ministers to Millend must have been few and far between (see list opposite). This Chapel was extended in 1791.

In the Newchurch Circuit Book, under the date of January 2nd, 1 786, we have the following entry by Charles Atmore, who, while zealous in promoting the salvation of souls, was equally attentive to the minor points relating to the orderly management of a circuit. He states “This book is for the Steward’s accounts of the Millend Chapel;” and again, “I appoint Dionysius Haworth Steward of the Society for the ensuing year” . At this date there were two Society Classes, at Newchurch and at Millend.

From the Newchurch society books between

Horse bill - £1 l0s;

Candles- 3s;
Horse for local preachers - 2s 8d; For preachers room- 16s;
given to a local preacher for a coat - 5s; Given to the poor- 4s 4d;
to mending chapel windows - 5s; Flocks for bed – 10s 10d;
rope for horse - 1s 2d; Repairs for chapel – 7s 3d;
Townley’ s horse breaking a window - 1s 6d;  
wine for sacrament - 1s 10d.  

Then as of now, finance was sometimes a problem. The quarterly collection included such items as class money, ticket money, chapel seat rents, the rent of the house under the Millend Chapel, and the proceeds of the Love Feast.

Love Feasts are not now common practice in this area. They usually open with singing and prayer, a blessing is given, after which the bread & water (or fruit-cake & water) are served. The people then give their testimony, and the Love Feast closes with prayer.

John Wesley originally was a C of E vicar, and he believed that only Ordained Ministers should lead the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, hut the celebration of the Love Feast, led by Church Members, was positively encouraged.