Where were the chapels?
Whilst all branches of Methodism kept statistics which were reported to the annual conferences, only the Wesleyans published regular lists of their chapels and preaching places. The Primitive Methodists made a point of writing reports of chapel openings for their Magazine, but those publications of the Bible Christians, Methodist New Connexion and United Methodist Free Churches it has been possible to study recently tend to concentrate on other matters. Elsewhere on this site you will see the lists made in 1861 by the Methodist New Connexion and in 1898 by the United Methodist Free Churches, both of which were part of publications issued to mark a significant anniversary of those two bodies.
In 1926 the United Methodist Church published a pamphlet Where are our Churches? The 1940 Statistical Returns of the Methodist Church indicates which chapels had been part of the United Methodist Church.
We can build up a fuller picture by using the sources listed on our page finding out about a United Methodist chapel Gratitude is due to all those who have compiled those printed and online sources, and in particular to the surveyors of the Ordnance Survey whose maps have answered many questions.
The chapels in this list are arranged by county (England, Wales, Channel Islands, Isle of Man). Details are given of their original denomination, known dates of opening and closure (before 1940), whether they were recorded in 1867 and 1907, how many people they could seat in 1940.
There are undoubtedly chapels which have yet to be identified, as we know not all missions succeeded. Any additional information will be gratefully received. Altogether 3369 buildings have been identified, although the greatest number in use at the same time was 2348 (in 1907). Of these, we currently have photographs of 318, so we would also be very grateful to anyone who can supply images.
Chronological list of primary sources
The Methodist Almanack for 1849 https://archive.org/details/28397121.1848.emory.edu
Religious Census of 1851 (HO 129)
Baggaly, William. A Digest of the Minutes, Institutions, Polity, Doctrines, Ordinances and Literature of the Methodist New Connexion. London: William Cooke, 1862,253 pp. https://archive.org/details/adigestminutesi00bagggoog
Thorne, James; Kinsman, Richard K; Robins Matthew and Prior, J. H. A Jubilee Memorial of Incidents in the Rise and Progress of the Bible Christian Connexion.. Shebbear: published for the Bible Christian Book Committee by James Thome, 1865, vi, 292 pp.
A list of places of meeting for public religious worship, certified to the Registrar General to 30th June 1867. London: Eyre and Spottiswood, for the Registrar General, 1867
The Centenary of the Methodist New Connexion, 1797-1897, editor: George Packer. London: Geo.Burroughs, , vii, 272 pp. https://archive.org/details/05158808.emory.edu
Askew, Edwin. Free Methodist Manual, Comprising a Statement of the Origin, Doctrines, and Constitution of the United Methodist Free Churches : with Alphabetical Arrangements of Ministers and Circuits, Historical and Statistical Accounts of Connexional Institutions, Funds, from 1836 to 1898 . London: Andrew Crombie, 1899.
Minutes of the First Conference of the United Methodist Church, held in Wesley’s Chapel, City Road, London, September 1907
Methodist Church. Department for Chapel Affairs. Methodist Church Buildings: Statistical Returns Including Seating Accommodation as at July 1st 1940. Manchester: Department for Chapel Affairs, . 303 pp. http://www.mymethodisthistory.org.uk/page/1940_statistical_returns_of_methodist_buildings?path=0p124p
Methodist Church. Department for Chapel Affairs. Methodist Church Buildings: Statistical Returns made 6th December 1970. Manchester: Department for Chapel Affairs, 1972-1973.
“Mapping Methodism” https://cornishstory.com/category/cornish-story-projects/mapping-methodism/