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South Warwickshire, England.
The Oxhill News
Closure of Oxhill Methodist Church (1)
I was sorry to hear of the closure of Oxhill Methodist Church due to
happen this month, and people
may perhaps like to know a little of its long history.
For over 200 years Methodism has played an important part in Oxhill life,
from the first meeting which was held at Oxhill House the home of John
Ward, in 1769, at which the preacher was Rev. John
a leading Wesleyan later to become Conference President.
The movement in Oxhill was founded
by William Geden, a tailor from Tysoe, where there was already a similar
small Society. For thirty
years, (and latterly when he was over seventy) Mr. Geden walked, stout
stick in one hand, lantern in the other, across the open fields to Oxhill to hold
Sunday evening services and again to a class meeting during the week.
The Ward family of Oxhill House, where the meetings were first held, were
affluent farmers - like
the Archers of Ambridge they seemed to own half the village and several of
the larger houses!
unlike the Archers - (are there any Methodists in Ambridge?) - they were
devout Methodists, and
great benefactors to the movement in Oxhill.
In 1814 John Ward donated the land for a chapel,
was built at a cost of £287.19s.2½d. The congregation grew, and in 1839
the building was enlarged, and a gallery added.
1877 there were said to be "100 regular hearers”, but the chapel
building itself was becoming dilapidated, and there were complaints of damp and
draughts. In 1878 considerable
improvements took place, the gallery was removed, and a transept added,
together with a schoolroom for the flourishing
School. At the reopening
services there were six preachers!
Chapel Centenary in 1914 was marked with special services held over two
days, when the congregations were large.
In 1989 the 175th anniversary was also celebrated, but by now the
regular congregation was dwindling. Mr.
Harold Law, to whose research in the 1980s I am indebted, noted that the
village had changed, its population was lower than in the 1880s, and few
of the old families, whose parents and grandparents had connections with
Oxhill Chapel, now remained. Rev
Dr. David F. Clarke, Superintendent
of the Kineton Circuit writing in 1990, commented that nevertheless, in
the years between John Pawson's visit to Oxhill in 1769 and that of a
later Conference President in the 1980s, "Methodism has done a great
thing nationally; and it is as well to remember that the national effect
is only a product of the witness of the Oxhills of this life"
shall miss the presence of Oxhill Methodist Church, and the contribution
it has made over many years to the life of our village.
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Last modified: November 29, 2003