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History of Church House

Primitive methodist chapel

This information is from Geoff Milburn from Sunderland and is a precis of some of his research on the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Hutton Rudby.

1 June 1887 – stone-laying ceremony – stone laid by Mrs Lennard of Leven House.

1 December 1887 – Chapel opened. Cost about £900.00. Of this sum £550 was raised by the time of the opening and £350 had to be borrowed. The debt was paid off by 1902. To translate these sums into modern values we need to multiply them by about 100. The Architect was George Race of Weardale. It was known simply as Hutton Rudby P.M. Chapel until 1932 when the name “Greenbank Chapel” was adopted. (The Wensleyan Chapel built in 1879 took the name Levenside at that time.)

There had been an earlier P.M. Chapel built 1821 on part of the same site. Two members, J.B. York and T. Sage took down the old chapel for £5. The congregation worshipped in the Temperance Hall on North End (adjoining the original Wesleyan Chapel of 1759) while the new chapel was being constructed. The old chapel had no schoolroom and the Sunday School had to meet in the chapel itself. The new chapel was designed to include a large schoolroom and a smaller classroom. This meant buying extra land adjoining the site of the 1821 chapel.

The minister at the time the new Chapel was built was Revd Maurice Drummond, a descendant of an earl of Perth who lost his land and titles after the Jacobite rising in Scotland.

Active members of the Chapel at the time it was built included:

William Graham Hall, Robert Maughan (m. Mary Anne Milburn), Edward Bainbridge, Thomas Sage, and Kilvington Rickatson (of Trenholme Bar).

Memorial stones were laid by K. Rickatson, W. Seymour (Spout Bank), Mrs. Honeyman, Mrs Eden, Mrs Hall and Mr E. Bainbridge. Stones also laid on behalf of Viscount Falkland (Skutterskelfe), G.Y, Blair (Drumrauck) and Revd Oliver Jackson, a P.M. minister born in Hutton Rudby.

The chapel was built in brick in what was called then an “Italianate” style with rounded stone arches over the doors and windows, with keystones inserted. The quoining (cornering) also done in stone. These Italian or classical features were echoed inside by two pillars of imitation marble to the left and right of the organ. (The Wesleyan Chapel was built in a simplified “Gothic” style, with pointed arches over doors and windows).

The seating in the chapel was in three blocks of pews built of fine pitch pine. The centre block seated seven persons in each pew, the blocks to left and right seated four in each pew. The pews were numbered for seat-renting purposes, the central pews being the more expensive. Some pews near the front were kept free for visitors and had “FREE” stamped on them.

The chapel floor sloped gently towards the Choir who sat in a long pew, raised up several steps, facing the congregation. In the centre of this choir pew was a lectern for the preacher. Along the front of this pew was some delicate cast iron work, in a filigree design, painted in pleasant pastel shades. This was a feature of George Race’s work and can be seen at other chapels designed by him, e.g. Westgate in Weardale, where he lived.

Below the preacher’s lectern stood the communion table with a curved rail round it with more decorative cast iron work. Behind the choir pew and set in an alcove on its own was the organ. The first organ of 1892 was a dimple design costing £28; a pipe organ was installed in 1905 costing £105, of which £50 was given by Andrew Carnegie. The organ partially obscured a large screen which could be opened up linking the chapel and the larger schoolroom – for overflow congregations presumably. Imitation marble columns stood to right and left of the screen, with a decorated arch above them. Two doors at the right and left of the choir admitted into the schoolroom.

On the wall behind the choir, and above the screen, the letters HIS were painted in the form of a large monogram. This is a very ancient Christian symbol with a variety of meanings, one of which is “Jesus, saviour of men”. Methodists often said it stood for “In His Service”.

Higher up still there were stencilled decorations round the top of the walls.

Larger and handsome oil lamps were used in the chapel until 1930 when electricity was installed at a cost of £23.7s Dorothy Rickatson was invited to perform the ceremony of switching on the lights.

The chapel closed in 1959, a belated effect of Methodist Union when the various strands of Methodism came together. The oldest and strongest of these strands was the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Primitive Methodism began as an offshoot from Wesleyanism around 1810-1812 and grew very rapidly to become a strong and lively Church, particularly in villages and industrial areas. All the Methodist strands looked back to John and Charles Wesley for the basic origins but developed different characteristics of their own.

Major renovations were undertaken in 2009 at a cost of almost £100,000.