Harpley Methodist New Connexion Gospel Hall, Norfolk

Former Gospel Hall, Harpley.
Photo: D Secker 2022

A Methodist New Connexion chapel mentioned in 1869 could have been the former Wesleyan. The King’s Lynn Wesleyan Reform Association was active in the neighbourhood from c1850, their chapels eventually joining the New Connexion from 1854.

The foundation stone of a Gospel Hall on Mill Lane, affiliated to the Lynn Methodist New Connexion circuit (but not owned by it), was laid on Wednesday 6th July 1870 by Miss Jary, with the Rev Thomas Porteous (New Connexion) officiating. Tenders for its construction were only advertised the previous month.

Described as “a hall to be used for the Sunday School, lectures, and a service every Sunday”, there was more than a hint of American revivalism, and little regard to denomination. That the Sunday School was successful is evident from the anniversary in 1874 when 90 children attended.

Notwithstanding the above dates, a millstone with a date of 1881 is embedded into the wall of the building and has on it the initials WJN – suggesting William J Norman, the miller of Harpley, who gave the land and had the hall built and placed in a Trust. He was a Methodist local preacher and chief steward here for many years. Were alterations (enlargement) to the building made in that year, perhaps? Seating capacity was recorded as anything from 150 to 300

In 1907 the hall went the way of the New Connexion and became United Methodist, but not for long. Mr Norman, on moving to Lynn for retirement in 1920, gave the building (debt free) to the Wesleyans for use in connection with the Mid-Norfolk Wesleyan Mission.

At Methodist union (1932) it was placed in the Swaffham circuit where it remained until closing in 1945.

When put up for sale in 1952, the specifications were: two front entrance porches; a main hall measuring 34x25ft 6in, with a slow combustion stove; and a back portion of the hall measuring 25x12ft 6in with folding communicating doors. Contents included benches, a platform and a quantity of trestles and boards.

It is interesting to note that it was not registered for public worship until February 1938. The registration was cancelled 1952.

The property is now an unusual and attractive dwelling.

Sources include
Post Office Directory of Norfolk 1869
Lynn Advertiser 4th June and 9th July 1870
Lynn News 18th September 1928
Methodist Church Buildings Statistical Returns 1940
Lynn Advertiser 11th July 1952

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