Dersingham Methodist New Connexion Chapel, Norfolk

Former chapel 2022
Photo: D Secker
Side view
Photo: D Secker

Standing on Manor Road, this brick and carrstone chapel opened in 1851 as Methodist New Connexion; both the title and date can be seen on the front elevation.

Although little is forthcoming concerning its history, we learn much from the opening of another chapel – the Wesleyan in 1890. In that year the Methodist Times noted: “Half a century ago a strong Wesleyan cause existed in a converted cart shed at Dersingham. It was extinguished in the agitation of 1849.”

As to the circumstances leading up to the building of this new (Wesleyan) chapel, a brief account was given by the Rev D W Barr at the stone laying ceremony:
   It is about forty years ago that a Wesleyan cause flourished in the village, but afterwards through the differences arising at the agitation it was eventually taken up by the Methodist New Connexion, who for several years carried on the work until about five years ago when the pulpit was supplied chiefly by Baptist and Wesleyan local preachers. This was found to work unsatisfactorily and the resident minister, the Rev H L Thompson, on behalf of the New Connexion Conference, made overtures to the Wesleyans to take over the cause.

Agreement being reached, the chapel was placed on the Wesleyan circuit plan, and this arrangement continued until the arrival in 1888 of William Stephen and his “commendably aggressive” superintendence of Lynn’s New Connexion circuit. Determined to breathe new life into a floundering circuit (which he did), he reined in its wayward members. He gave Dersingham Wesleyans notice to quit, hence their new chapel. So, not for the first time the Wesleyans were sent packing.

Within a few years the Rev Mr Stephen, who was also editor of the Methodist Evangelist, had gone. And so too had the New Connexion nationally as it merged to become the United Methodist Church in 1907.

In Dersingham, dwindling numbers led to the chapel’s closure in 1913. After various uses it was purchased by the adjacent hotel.

Out of the three Methodist chapels in the village, only the former Wesleyan remains open!

Sources include
Lynn News 1st March 1890
The Methodist Times 20th March 1890
History of the Borough of King’s Lynn pub 1907 Hillen H

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