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Methodist Chapel Chew Hill

Chewton ChapelThe building on the lft is now known as Chew Hill Cottage on Chew Hillbut it had performed several functions in its history.There was an active Methodist Chapel in Bathway until the 1970s but the first dissenters chapel as built in Widcombe in the early 19th century but that may have been for the local community. The Catholic Emancipation act as passed in 1829 also marked a more relaxed attitude to religion in general. The Marriages Act of 1836 allowed for marriages to be conducted in Catholic and dissenters chapels. Coal mining was growing in significance and a combination of these facts may have encouraged the Methodists to build their own chapel in Chewton Mendip. The style of the building on Chew Hill which is known to be the original Methodist Chapel fits that time scale but there is no documentary evidence for a more  accurate date for when it was built. It is assumed the bottom part was the original accommodation whilst the top part was the chapel.
The 1794 map is unhelpful because the land belonged to  the Kingsmills so it is shown as a blank space. The Kingsmill family had owned most of the centre of the village since the civil war period if not earlier which helps to explain why the first  document contains some complex legal terms.
The 1840 map shows there was a Weslean Chapel at Nedge but only private houses on this site. An indenture dated 1849 refers to the sale of the land dated 25th June 1830 when William Kingsmill sold what was the original Methodist chapel to Joseph Maberly and Thomas Oldham, it was described as a cottage and garden. This date does not provide a cast iron evidence for the earliest date of the construction of the building because the Methodists may hade been given permission to build their chapel on land still owned by the Kingsmills.
 The 1849 indenture was required to convert an ‘entailed estate’ into absolute ownership. This form of ownership was sometimes called a ‘fee tail’. This was  an old form of land ownership where the rights of inheritance was limited. This could be because the Kingsmills had held the land for such a long time or as a result of the legal dispute after Rev John Stephens inherited the Kingsmill estate. It is believed he was the illegitimate son of Robert Kingsmill and his inheritance was challenged by other members of the Kingsmill family. Aaron Gill of Priddy is mentioned as the second party in the 1849 indenture. Robert Pearce was the tenant. He may have been the son of Robert and Ann Pearce  who was  baptised on 2nd September 1792.
 Arron Gill sold the property to Thomas Samuel Flemming of Radstock, a Wesleyan Minister on 17th October 1853. Richard Kennard a gentleman of East Harptree, Richard Evans a gentleman of Timsbury, George Chivas a miner of Timsbury, William Waymouth a school master of East Harptree, James Vowles a yeoman  of West Harptree, George Wheeler a shopkeeper of Litton, Charles Edwards a mason of Radstock, John Edwards a mason of Chewton Mendip, John Ford a cordwainer of Chewton Mendip and Cornelius Ford also a cordwainer of Chewton Mendip were also listed as purchasers. Robert Pearce as still the tenant and it is not clear if there was a chapel on the site.
 The Rev Flemming had moved to Leeds by 1869 when another indenture was produced to update an indenture dated 1st November 1865 when the Rev Mathew Baxter took control, James Richmond and John Bain was also listed as the owners. The land in Bathway had been given to a diferent group of methodists in 1860. The Chew Hill property is now called Chewton Chapel and Mark Middle was the tenant.
Several people mentioned in the 1853 indenture had died and the people listed as the second parties in the 1865 indenture were James Richmond, Robert Holt, William Hudson, Thomas Carr, Robert Tatterwall, Cornelius Ford, Robert Spencer, John Halstead, John Baron, James Wiseman, John Mathew Todd, Thomas Harding, James Hudson, Thomas Crook and Richard Hartley. Henry Tucker Laws was listed as being the third part.
 An indenture dated 3rd April 1871 was an agreement by the United Assembly of the United Methodist Free Churches  to sell the Chapel. The people of the first party were Henry Church of Chewton Mendip who was a grocer, William Barfoot a tea dealer of Midsomer Norton, George Bryer Ash a book-keeper, Frederick Bird accountant, Joseph Forwell Ash grocer all of Radstock, Thomas Tucker book keeper, Enock Salmon book-keeper, Edmund Jones bookkeeper all of Writhlington, Alan Chivers colliery manager, George Brice bookkeeper, Thomas Tucker book-keeper all of Writhlington. John Myers of Leeds, dissenting minister was listed as one of the second party and Robert Foster a marine store dealer of Wells was the third-party in an indenture regarding the Chewton Chapel on Chew Hill in 1871.
 Robert Foster sold the property to Henry Curtis on 10th of October 1874. Th assumption is that he had bought it for his parents who had been living with him in Ford House.  This was a downward move for the Curtis’ in many ways because Henry had been made bankrupt in 1871. He took out a mortgage for the property in 1876 when Henry was living in The Antelope Hotel in Pool and was working as a hotel keeper and commercial traveler.
 It is not known what happened to the property after that but it may have been bought by the Waldegrave family.
 It is believed it was the village hall and is where the first parish council was elected.
 It was a upholsters shop which did the upholstery for Mendip Motors at the turn of the 20th century.
 It was used as a ‘technical school’ later in the 20th century an it is now a private house.
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