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Building record MDR12687 - Birchwood Methodist Church, Birchwood Lane, Somercotes

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

The Wesleyan Reformers' chapel, situated in Birchwood Lane, was erected by John Smedley, Esq., of Lea Bridge. It is a handsome building with tower and one bell. In connection with the chapel is a good school, eligible for all the children in the village. The school-room is lighted with gas and heated with hot water, and will accommodate about 200 children. Average attendance is 125. (1) There is a United Methodist Free Chapel and an adjoining disused school situated here on the 1st edition OS map. By the 2nd edition OS map, the whole building appears to be in use as a chapel. By the 3rd edition OS map, a new Sunday school, fronting the road, has been built. (2-4) The United Methodist Free Church was erected in 1850 by Mr Smedley, of Riber Castle, at a cost of £1,600. After his death it was purchased from his executors by the Methodist Free Church Society for £800. It is handsome Gothic edifice, with a low pinnacled tower containing one bell. On the wall near the pulpit is a tablet of black and white marble to the memory of Samuel Marriott, who died in 1891, having been a local preacher for the long period of 59 years. (5) The hand of the patron, John Smedley of Matlock, is apparent in this building of 1853, which has all the major attributes of a parish church: chancel, nave, and tower, although with a reversed orientation. The walls are of brick with stone dressings, and the roofs are slated. The chancel, of three bays, and the slightly wider nave of four bays, have lancet windows with cast-iron frames and coloured glass in marginal lights, between two-stage buttresses. The west window of the chancel has three graduated lancets. The east tower is of three receding stages with a porch, north doorway and gallery staircase in the lower stage. There is also a circular panel for a clock face on the north side of the middle stage, lancets to the belfry and a battlemented parapet formerly with corner pinnacles. A Sunday school and vestry were built against the north side of the chancel in 1907, and an organ chamber has been added against the west bay of the nave of the south side. The nave and chancel are divided by a four-centred arch, the jambs now cut away and replaced by iron columns. A folding screen has been introduced in to the chancel to separate the two west bays, which now form a schoolroom. The nave has an open timber roof with queen-post trusses and a gallery at the east end. There is a pottery fontlet of Winchester Cathedral type, c. 1900. (6)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: White, F & Co.. 1857. History, Gazetteer & Directory of the County of Derby. pp 662-3.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1882. OS County Series, 1st edition, scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile).
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1896-1900. OS County Series, 2nd edition (1st revision), scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile).
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1912-1921. OS County Series, 3rd edition (Second Revision), scale 1:2500 (25" to one mile).
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Bulmer, T and Co.. 1895. History, Topography and Directory of Derbyshire. p 614.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: RCHME (Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England). 1986. An Inventory of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting-houses in Central England - Derbyshire extract. p 32.



Grid reference Centred SK 4289 5396 (33m by 24m)

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Record last edited

Jan 4 2018 2:56PM

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