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A little Methodist chapel in Devon England

Updated on September 7, 2014

This chapel needs a new roof

Chapels seem to have a knack of needing new roofs. It's a big undertaking for a congregation of nine, but we do get a lot of back up from the circuit, that is the other chapels in our area. At this little Methodist chapel we've got a long haul ahead of us. So what would the alternative be, to let the place fall down. This would be criminal. If we all fade away someone is going to need the building, so we need to step out in faith and try to raise the money and hope that our little chapel at Culmstock will be full again. Maybe we can reach out to the community by providing a place for the elderly to meet instead of being isolated in their homes Watch the progress we make.

I start to tell about the chapel

"I think I've cracked it!! Hello world. I'm here to tell you about that little old Methodist church in Devon. Well the roof has been leaking and I wondered if I might make a little bit of money here in order to pay for a replacement. The roof will probably be about $ 28,000 but we have other plans too to use the chapel area as a community hall for the village during the week. We already have the pre-school in from Monday to Friday. I shall be posting photos later and keeping you up-to-date. Before I go I must tell you about the Hymnathon. On May 23rd 2009 we are singing hymns from 9a.m. -9 p.m. I'm one of the organists. We will also be having lots of food to eat and people will give donations." See below to find out how successful this fund raising effort will be.

Inside the little Methodist chapel

From the past to the present

How our little Methodist chapel has progressed down the years


Culmstock has an important place in the history of Methodism and still the Methodist people of the area continue that work of Christian witness today.

John Wesley the founder of Methodism, himself came to Culmstock, where on Monday 22nd. September 1766 he "preached in the street to almost all the inhabitants of the town". When his life was coming to an end, he organised the continuation and development of the worldwide Methodist Church by hand picking the Legal Hundred, a body of 100 of his preachers chosen to govern the work he and his brother Charles had started. One of those 100 men was a John Moon who was born in Culmstock in 1751, the cousin of one Samuel Potter who was the village baker and lived at Perlycross until 1830.

Since that time and to the present day, Christian worship in the Methodist Tradition has been carried on every Sunday in the village and now attracts a membership from the upper Culm Valley and the neighbouring villages of Uffculme and Hemyock.

Another interesting fact about the village is that the Archbishop of Canterbury during World War 2, William Temple also came from Culmstock, (as did his father Frederick, who was a previous Archbishop Of Canterbury). William would often tell the story of how when he was a boy in the village, his maternal Aunt would always take him along to her Methodist Chapel to hear some "real preaching".

In modern times, often in conjunction with other churches in the area and the Tiverton and Wellington Methodist Circuit, Culmstock Methodists have gained a high reputation for regularly holding creative and special worship and celebrations of praise and thanksgiving to the glory of God. They frequently attract congregations of all ages, 60 to 90 in number, and the open-air services, which are held in conjunction with the Salvation Army Band, in the meadow by the river Culm, of over 200. This from a society with a membership of only 9 is a reward for their commitment and dedication and the inspiration given to them by the Spirit of God. Their Christian mission is therefore effective to very many more people than just themselves.

As well as the Christian worship activities undertaken by the membership, various village organisations find the present chapel building and schoolroom, a useful venue in which to hold their meetings and functions.

Planned improvements

Here the Culmstock Pre School hold morning and afternoon sessions each weekday of term time. We are also the local polling station.

The little Christian chapel building that presently exists at Culmstock Devon, now provides the only Methodist presence in the upper Culm Valley. It is not a listed building but stands in a conservation area and within the unspoilt rurality of the Blackdown Hills, an area of special scientific interest. The building (1888) has over the years been developed and maintained in very good order.

To keep the integrity of a 120-year-old building in a conservation area but also to maintain it to an acceptable standard for 21st. Century secular use, and as an appropriate sanctuary for worship can become a difficult balancing act between tradition, modernity, space, comfort and finance.

Over the past ten years the 9 members of the congregation have themselves, (remarkably without the need of any other financial assistance) by the grace of God, by donation of their own time and through well-supported village functions, raised over £18,500, to cover the costs of these developments. This obviously in addition to the necessary other regular giving, required within a fellowship of a Christian, humanitarian and worldwide church.

So in this time the building has been totally redecorated externally. The chapel's sanctuary area has been repaired, recarpeted and developed. This to eradicate wet rot in the pulpit, communion area, in the floor and dado boarding. In achieving this scheme we have also been able to create a larger area for modern worship with wheelchair access.

We have also had major works completed to the roof and electrics and have provided an enclosed rear playground, to allow the Pre-School children to play safely outside during the winter.

Our future proposal is now to improve on the present toilet facilities, bringing them inside the building and making them accessible to and assisted for the disabled and with baby changing facilities.

We had previously been given a very generous donation of land on which we might extend our building to accommodate a new kitchen at sometime in the future. When the finances permit we will have a new roof and hope someday to provide a small rear plot in which the children could play. This type of support is in itself, a token of the high regard for which the active Christian works and most useful Chapel facilities, provided by present day Culmstock Methodists, are held within the local community.

The windows


So I live in the country in Devon England and our little Methodist chapel needs a new roof. So I thought this might be a way to get some money in for it. But I'm on the old side for computers and I'm struggling a bit with all this technological wording and of course my kids wish I wouldn't bother as they come in for all the silly questions about how to do it. Serves me daughter right, she introduced me to squidoo.

Plans are going well for the hymnathon. I'm flying in a young man from Suffolk to play in one of the hour long spots on the organ. Well he's doing the flying, multi-talented you see.

At last the Hymnathon.

Raising money for our little Methodist chapel

And so the great day of the Hymnathon arrived. We had an excellent day and raised over 800 GBP. What a splendid effort. Everyone worked together. It's amazing what you can do when you all pull together. We sang 193 hymns. There were some repeats as you would expect with people coming and going. There was lovely, plentiful food laid on and people gave donations for their food and just for the joy of giving. We were visited by a bishop at one point. There were also friends from the Anglican church. We had our local ladies choir there for the last two hours of the twelve hour stint.Their last hymn was accompanied by tambourines. Of course our Methodist friends from the circuit were much in evidence. We all support one another. So we are off to a good start in raising money for a new roof. We have other plans too. We want to see the building used more fully for the community. We don't want it sitting getting damp through the week so that we can use it for a service on one hour a week. What a waste! So watch this space for updates.

A continuing story

The history of the present building is also of some notable interest. It is the second to have been built in the village. (The first at Smallbrook, being closed in 1889.).

It was built in 1888 as a Wesleyan chapel in the old orchard of the adjacent farm, (now a dwelling know as Vennwoods), by the Pook family who were active Methodists. Their family's connection with the chapel lasted for over 100 years, finally ending with the death in 1985, of Miss. Mabel Tucker who had lived in that farm for all of her long life.

The building is of the style of a pseudo, gothic, Anglican, chapel of ease.

This we are expertly informed, is a most unusual type of building to be found within the Methodist (Wesleyan) Tradition; having been built at a time after the majority of their worship places had been completed.

The reason for this was that the village had a previously built (1808) classic style Methodist Meeting / Preaching house at the end of Silver Street, some little way out of the village at Smallbrook. This is now a private dwelling known as The Old Chapel. Its supersedence by the present building, being as a gift from the Pook family and putting the Methodist presence at the heart and most definite centre of the village.

Internally the building has been kept in a traditional way, in keeping with a conservation area. The features are all of pitch pine including the reading desk,

room dividers and pews. The two plaster columns have a peony facade and the original windows of small leaded squares are still in situ.

To maintain the fabric of the building of this style and in a good condition of repair is an ever-continuing task. We do however most definitely Worship the Lord and not the building, but it is our present base in which and from which our mission for His work proceeds.

We meet every Sunday (in summer at and in the winter at 3pm).

We are always delighted to welcome any visitors to any of our services.

So we very much look forward to meeting you one day.

Sincerely in Christ,

David Greet. . 12. 06. 09.

The plaque remembering John Pook - John Pook gave the land on which the little Methodist chapel stands

Past successes and hope for the future

We have nine members at Culmstock Methodist Church. Sometimes our numbers will be very low for services but when we have a special service, such as, the recent Anniversary service ,our numbers can grow to fifty or more. This is partly due to support from the circuit, and partly due to support from our Anglican friends and other friends from the village. For this kind of service, afterwards we will have a tea to round off the proceedings. This will often be a cream tea including scones with jam and cream. Other firm favourites are sausage rolls and quiche. There will also be cake and a cup of tea.

Other recent special services include singing to the accompaniment of Exeter Salvation Army band in the open air, in the meadow beside the river. ( For a view of the river see my lens The Culm Valley.) Also last Christmas we sang carols outside the Culm Valley Inn ( also featured in the above lens). that was a great success, with at least thirty people gathering from the village.

Sometimes we look as if we are on our last legs, but then we show signs of flourishing again. We hope to make improvements to our building so that the Pre-school have better facilities and so that we can serve the community at large better. We hope to have coffee mornings and lunches, so that people can meet together during the week as a good thing in itself, and also hoping that they will feel encouraged to meet with us on a Sunday.

We have made a good start to our fund raising and feel encouraged to continue.

A pudding party

Well what do you think that is? Well it happens at 7 p.m. The idea is that you have your first course of an evening meal at home and then join with everyone else at the little Methodist chapel for pudding, one or more. Janet arranged it all. We had about 35 people come to the Pudding Party. There was a wonderful assortment of puddings. My favourite was the lemon and pineapple souffle. There was also raspberry pavlova and various chocolate puiddings,and there was clotted cream to add to other puddings. Maybe later I will tell you how to get clotted cream from whole milk. There were also trifles and cheesecake.

As you can imagine we all had a super evening. It was also a chance to catch up with old friends. There were people there from the circuit and more importantly friends from the village and from the Anglican church.These are the sorts of events we would like to have more often, where people can feel welcome in our little church building and gain the confidence to explore what they need from the christian faith.

Oh! I nearly forgot, we raised about 150 GBP. That's for the roof fund. Little by little we are collecting the money.

Another view of the chapel

Tucked in beside a thatched cottage is our charming little chapel.

Things are beginning to happen

After almost a year things are beginning to move. We have building plans for a disabled toilet next to the entrance. This is a toilet for the disabled, which ,of course can be used by anyone. We have a charity near us who will probably give a grant towards this. Also we will have a kitchen area at the back of the church which can be closed away to look like a cupboard when not in use. this would mean that we would then be able to have coffee mornings and other meetings in the church even when the Pre-school is in session. We could then have events for our elderly community and hopefully the chapel would become a place where our villagers could feel at home at any time of the week. A real asset to the community.

An update on our Methodist Chapel

May 4th, 2011

We now have a coffee morning every second Saturday in the month. This has been happening since January. People are beginning to respond to having a definite time in the calendar which they can easily remember. There is no problem with conflicting with the Pre-School as they do not meet on Saturdays. Our primary purpose with the coffee morning is to get people to meet and enjoy a chat. We do not charge for coffee and biscuits but invite people to make a donation. The money is, of course, welcome to put towards the cost of renovation. Getting the renovations under way is a problem which will one day, no doubt, be sorted.

We have also had a very successful wedding dress festival. People from the circuit looked out all their wedding dresses and photos for this occasion. You can see below some of them. The oldest was from the 1940's and the newest 2010. We all enjoyed a good day with soup and sandwiches at lunchtime and real wedding cake in the afternoon. The dresses were displayed on dummies around the chapel and stayed in place for the Sunday. We feel events like this make people feel at home in our chapel and we hope they may feel more inclined to come to a service now and again. We want to help people to find Jesus. On the Sunday our woman speaker spoke about the wedding at Cana that Jesus attended.

Our next important date for fund raising is a concert in our village hall when the South Molton Circuit Choir will be singing.

Surprizingly from 2000

With a Gathered Skirt

Dresses and Photos from Methodist Members

A Choir Visits

The South Molton Circuit Choir came to Culmstock on May 21st 2011 and gave us a delightful evening of singing in the village hall. The choral singing was splendid and variety was given to the programme by solo and small group singing. There was also a piano duet. We would like to have seen more people present at the concert, but those who were there were given an enjoyable evening. When the choir had delivered their complete programme the refreshments were made available. A varied and delicious buffet was set out in the back room. The choir partook first and then the audience. A useful sum of money was raised for the renovations to the chapel.

At Last Renovations Begin

July 22nd, 2011 saw the beginning of the work on the chapel roof. It has taken a long time to get to this stage, but we have a long way to go. Much of the money is being provided by the Circuit funds. The circuit in Methodism is a group of churches allied to one another, in our case ten churches. In numbers ours is the smallest of this group. We are grateful that they have listened to our vision of continuing to work in our village. We believe we can provide meetings where people can get to know us as individuals, always with the hope that people will feel drawn to the gospel of Jesus.

Renovations are under way - July 27th, 2011

An Exciting Moment

On Saturday September 10th our church pews were sold and taken away by the buyers. It was quite a job for them and required much man handling to get them out of the door. On the previous Monday two of our members hired a van and collected the chairs to replace the pews, from the auction rooms from which they had been bought. The sale of the pews went a long way towards the cost of the chairs. We put the chairs in conventional rows for the time being, but they will be much more flexible and maybe for some things we might have them in a circle. We are beginning to get bookings for the chapel from village organizations. This will be good for our finances, but we also hope that people will feel comfortable here and perhaps consider coming to a service sometimes.We want to serve our community in all sorts of ways, most of all hoping to bring people to Jesus.

With New Roof and Rendering and Fresh Paint

A Set Back

As you see we have replaced the Roof and have new rendering on the walls and new paint. When the floor was inspected it was found to have wet rot affecting it and we have to replace it. We have applied for a grant from Viridor a local firm who deal in waste disposal. They are known to be generous with their grants particularly when buildings are made easy of access to disabled people. We continue to have fund raising events. We had a Quiz night with pudding tasting afterwards. Then we had the Exeter Male Voice Choir sing for us in our Tiverton church, ours being too small to accommodate choir and spectators. This raised £500.

We are having a concert in April with local talent taking part. Small amounts soon add up to pay our way. Sometimes we lose heart and think things will never come right, but we soon bounce back and carry on with the work.

Time to Celebrate

In July 2012 we heard from Viridor that they were giving us a grant of £20,000 to do the remaining work. Work began this week. The floor, outside toilet being turned into an inside toilet and the new kitchen will be completed during the school holidays. There is not enough time to complete the new toilet before the Pre-School starts term in September, but we hope to complete this work and the whole scheme in the half term holidays in October. God has truly blessed us in this work and we hope to serve him and our little village community in the future. We have plans to combine activities with All Saints Church, the Anglican church in the village.

We have nearly achieved our goal for the building, now we pray for strength to carry out the work of the spiritual life of the community.

And Can it Be?

Yes, it can, our little chapel now has, not only a new roof but also a new floor and an inside toilet. Also there is a cupboard at the back of the chapel which you might be forgiven for thinking held a pile of hymnbooks. No that's not right, it opens to reveal a sink and draining board, with cupboards for mugs and electric sockets for a kettle and even a cooker point for when we will need a cooker. Still to come is a disabled toilet to enable us to use the chapel area even when the Pre-School is in session.

We were able to do this because of a grant from Viridor a local waste disposal company. Earlier for the roof we received money from our circuit and district and from Methodism at a national level. this is all truly amazing for such a little group of members. We thank God for his goodness and pray we may be able to use the building to his glory and for the help of the people of our village.

Photos to follow.

Improvements Are An On-going Feature

An old building like ours will always need work doing. However we now have the second toilet we needed and this frees us to use the chapel area even when the Pre-School is in session. We now have to raise money for general decoration and for flooring for the second toilet.

We now have a Knit and knatter session on a Tuesday afternoon from 2 - 4p.m. This is a chance for people to get out of their homes and enjoy a bit of time with friends either knitting or just nattering.Several village societies are now using our premises on regular basis. We now join with the church of England members on the second Sunday of the month. In the winter they come to us, as our building is easier to heat. In the summer we go to them once a month.So we look forward to what the future will bring.

We had a good time at our 125th Anniversary of the building at the end of May 2013 when a previous minister Rev. A Huxtable took the service. The Occasional singers sang for us and we had a tea. On August 4th 2013 Exeter Salvaion Army Band is coming to play for hymn singing for us in the meadow by the river. We hope to have lots of people from our circuit (group of Methodist churches) enjoying that time with us.

We are hoping to arrange some more money raising events in the next year, but we want to give to our community and not to be asking for money. We pray God will guide as to the best way to use our building.

Please tell me your views on this lens

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    • Ericarelo profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice lens. Learned a lot.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I really enjoyed reading about your little Methodist Chapel in Devon England especially since I am a Methodist, too. Your church is so beautiful with such an interesting history and you 9 members are to be commending for raising enough money to renovate it. Hope the renovation goes smoothly. Thanks for sharing your story of your church and I will be returning for more updates.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a wonderful history your little church and what dedication of the 9 current members. Inside bathroom facilities would be such an update to modern times and will seem like such a luxury. I was reminded of the building of the Methodist church at home when I was a child, we all pitched in to help. you tell the story beautifully here and may finances come in from surprising places.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting read indeed. Best wishes and good day.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wish all the luck and proper maintenance for the little Methodist Church! Hope the roofs get good care and they keep functioning for God's wise plans. Great and God bless!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image


      9 years ago

      What a beautiful Chapel and of such historic importance. I hope you achieve all your aims with the fundraising. 5* and a sprinkling of Angel Dust to hopefully help you along.

    • LizMac60 profile imageAUTHOR

      Liz Mackay 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      [in reply to Don Cameon] Lovely to hear from you Don. Yes the Pook's gave the land and built our chapel. You are welcome to come and visit. If you would like more contact use my Blog as shown further up this lens, above the drawing of the chapel, then we can chat some more.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      My Pook family came from Culmstock. I wonder if they played a part in the building of this church? I know my 3 x great grandmother's family were responsible for the re-building St Nicholas' Church, at Slaughterford, in Wiltshire. Mary Ann Collett married Richard Pook, son of Richard and Sarah Pook of Culmstock in 1838.

      My best wishes go to you and your friends for keeping this building from falling into disrepair.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a great looking chapel. I believe the LORD will meet your every need! God bless.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for introducing me to your poetry. See you on Wednesday for coffee?

    • LizMac60 profile imageAUTHOR

      Liz Mackay 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      [in reply to andy] Thanks Andy. I would love to show you around.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i wish to visit there one my guide?

      andy aka gladtobehere LJ

    • LizMac60 profile imageAUTHOR

      Liz Mackay 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      [in reply to Snozzle] thanks Mike :D

    • Snozzle profile image


      9 years ago

      Hello and lots of luck with Squidoo and with your chapel fund raising.

      Mike (from Cornwall)


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