Charlesworth Independent Chapel Triple Jubilee Commemoration 1798 — 1948.

Compiled by Rev. R. Mansfield.

Charlesworth Independent Chapel
Deacons: Frank F. Hollins, (Secretary and Treasurer); George Fielding (Joint Treasurer); Miss E. Walton; Frank Timmis; Mrs. A. Patchett; William Shaw.
Secretary to the Trustees: Leonard Cooper, B.Sc.
Sunday School Secretary: Mrs. F. Timmis
Men’s Own Secretary: William Shaw
Social Club: Secretary: Miss E. Robinson; Treasurer: Miss C. Thomas
Chapel Ladies’ Committee: Secretary : Mrs. A. Patchett; Treasurers: Mrs. K. Moss, Miss M. D. Wood
Bright Hour: President: Mrs. R. Mansfield; Secretary: Mrs. J. Sandiford; Treasurer: Mrs. J. Swift
Ladies’ Circle: Secretary: Miss R. Buckley; Treasurer: Mrs J. M. Booth
Choir: Conductor: John Fletcher; Organist: Stanley Elliott; Secretary: Frank Timmis

Charlesworth Independent Chapel; Souvenir, 1798-1948; July 18th.
One hundred and fifty years ago, there appeared in the August issue of the Evangelical Magazine, under the heading of “Religious Intelligence”, the following report:—“On Wednesday, July 18th, the new Chapel at Charlesworth, in Derbyshire, was opened. Mr. Sutcliffe, of Chapel-en-le-Frith, preached in the morning from Luke x. 5, “Peace be to this House.” And Mr. Blackburn, of Delph, from Ps. xlviii. 9, “We have thought of Thy loving kindness, O God, in the midst of Thy temple.” In the afternoon, Mr. Smith of Manchester, preached from 1 John iv. 11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” The Gospel has been preached in its purity, and with considerable success, at the old chapel, for a great length of time; but its decayed state rendered it necessary to take it down. To accommodate a stated congregation of near eight hundred people, a new and very neat Chapel is erected on the same spot. At the opening, there was a crowded auditory on both parts of the day. We hope the pleasure then felt will be frequently renewed in the experience of the stated worshippers, and that the glory of this latter house will be greater than of the former.”
Thus we celebrate this year, on the very day (July 18th), the 150th Anniversary of the opening of our beloved Chapel for public worship. It is the third Chapel to stand on the same site since those tumultuous times of the seventeenth century when our fathers “struggled hard for sacred rights and bravely won the day.”
Yet our history goes back much further than that. We owe a great debt to the Rev. T. J. Hosken, not only for his labours in Charlesworth as a Minister of the Gospel, but also for his work as our Historian. His Memorials of Charlesworth is still a much treasured possession in the homes of those who love the Chapel and whose relatives and friends have found a resting place in its “Gods’ Acre.”

The Old Tradition.
We do not know how or when the first religious building came to be erected at Charlesworth, for history and romance are closely intertwined. Mr. Hosken has preserved for us, however, the old tradition that was handed down from generation to generation.
“Once upon a time a Catholic priest (some say an Irish merchant), on his way from Manchester to London, in crossing this part of the Peak was overtaken by one of those bewildering storms that so frequently sweep down with great suddenness upon these hills, wrapping them in a dense and almost impenetrable mist. A comparative stranger to the neighbourhood, yet conscious of the wild and dangerous character of the district through which he was travelling, he feared to proceed lest the next step should launch him over some dreaded precipice, or entangle him in some equally dreaded bog or marsh. He could, therefore, do nothing but pray for guidance and wait for the storm to pass. Kneeling on the spot where he stood, he besought the help of heaven, and vowed a solemn vow that if preserved and taken to the end of his journey in safety, on that spot he would build a house of prayer and dedicate it to his patron saint. In a short time the storm ceased, the sky began to clear, the mists rolled away from the hills and to his great joy he found himself on the hillside overlooking the place where Charlesworth now stands. Marking the spot where deliverance had been so wonderfully, and, as he believed miraculously vouchsafed to him, he continued his journey, but forgot not his vow, and returned soon after to fulfil it. Here he built a small chapel or oratory (some say of bog wood brought from Ireland). According to the Rev. James Wilson, it was a small octagonal chapel, the roof of which was rudely carved; the arched rafters resting on massive buttresses, the walls rough blocks of stone, the floor earth covered with rushes, the seats and altar simple and unpretentious. One feels somewhat reluctant to disturb belief in a story so simple and romantic as this, but we are led to the conclusion that the story, whilst containing a germ of truth and plausibility, belongs in the main to the region of romance.”

Interior view of the Chapel

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalen in the Chapelry of Charlesworth.
Charlesworth formed part of the Crown Lands when the Domesday Survey was compiled. In 1294, Peter de Charlesworth died seized of certain lands in the Township and elsewhere in the Parish of Glossop, which he held for the Abbot of Basingwerk. In 1308, Robert de Charlesworth gave to the said Abbot eighty acres of arable land in Charlesworth in addition to small endowments in Simmondley and Chunal. This gift caused the monks of Basingwerk to establish a farm or grange managed by those of their own order, on their newly acquired possessions, and a Chapel was erected, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen. The Abbot of Basingwerk, in 1329, in order to increase the value of his property, obtained royal permission for the establishment of a Market at Charlesworth on Wednesdays, and for a yearly fair to be held on the festival of the patron saint of the Chapel. In the reign of Henry VII, William Wolley of Riber in the Parish of Matlock (whose family since the year 1139 had been established at Woley and Charlesworth—Thomas Wolley de Charlesworth and William Wolley de Charlesworth, great uncles of the said William Wolley—being included among the gentry of Derbyshire by the Commissioners appointed by Henry VI in their Return of 1433) left certain lands in Chesterfield, Newbold, Tapton and Dronfield to provide a priest to celebrate Divine Service and to say Masses for his soul and for the souls of his benefactors for ever in the Chapel of Charlesworth. The lands were devised by the will of the said William Wolley dated 9th of April, 1507, to Otwell Needham of Thornsett, and to Thomas Poynton, Vicar of Glossop (who died in 1551) as Trustees of the Chantry. Owing perhaps to the lateness of this endowment, the Chantry escaped entry in Chantry Roll, prepared by order of Henry VIII in the 37th year of his reign with a view to the confiscation of Chantries, but in the second year of Queen Elizabeth these lands were taken from Charlesworth Chapel and conferred, with other property, upon Sir George Howard, the second son of Lord Edmund Howard. Upon the death of Sir George Howard without issue, this property reverted to the elder branch of the Howards, who had inherited the rectorial Manor and other property in Glossop through the Earl of Shrewsbury. No trouble apparently was taken, but rather the contrary, to keep up the structure of the Chapel or to supply it with services in the first century after the Reformation. This was often the fate of the smaller Chapelries that had fallen into the hands of the landowners who still adhered to their ancient faith. The people in those cases still clung for the most part to the rites that were forbidden under pain of cruel penalties; they went in stealth to hear Mass in the great houses of the leading Catholic families, and in consequence the ancient Churches where their services could no longer be held were suffered to fall into decay.
The Parliamentary Commissioners of 1650 (one of the Commissioners being Wiliam Wolley of Riber, the great-great-grandson of the founder of the Chantry) reported that the Chapel was “fit to be disused and the place united to Glossop.” The expression “fit to be disused” would appear to imply that the building was then occasionally used for Divine Service, which was after the Presbyterian or the Independent form at that time in our national history, and this view is confirmed by the mention by the Commissioners that there was an Augmentation of £50 to this Chapelry paid out of the impropriate tithes of the Howard family and which were then sequestered to the State.
Not long after the Restoration of the Monarchy the Chapel was allowed by the Howards to remain in the hands of the Presbyterians or the Independents, and it seems probable that a licence was obtained at the time when the “Indulgence” was granted to the Nonconformists in 1672. Before the close of the seventeenth century the building was in the hands of the Independents, and was rebuilt on the same site at the end of the eighteenth century. (The foregoing was compiled by Lawrence Wolley Welch, the Secretary of Stone (Staffs.) Congregational Church, and the twelfth in direct lineal descent from the said William Wolley, the founder of the Chantry.)

The Monks’ Road.
Mr. Hosken conjectures that the Monks of Basingwerk Abbey, having come into possession of property at Charlesworth, Simmondley and Chunal and erected their Chapel, would often be passing and repassing between their Monastery in North Wales and the Peak. They have left numerous memorials behind them in this district which perpetuate the memory of their long connection with Charlesworth and neighbourhood. The old mountain road over the back of the hill from Hollingsworth Head to Charlesworth is still known as ‘ Monk’s Road,” presumably because it was the road traversed by them as they journeyed from their Abbey in Wales to Charlesworth. In a corner of this road there still remains a large square stone, scooped out something like a chair, which tradition has associated with these monkish visitors. It is still called “The Abbot’s Chair.” “It is probable,” says one writer, “that after the grant of Chunal to the Abbey, in 1336, this stone was placed to mark the boundary of the Glossop estate, and near it is a piece of land called ‘Abbot’s Croft.’ On the same road, also, stood the old Charlesworth Cross, which, like those of the neighbouring places, speaks of Catholic times, when our ancestors were wont to pay their devotions by the wayside.”
In the handbook for a Bazaar in 1910, this interesting item appears. “At the time of suppression of the monasteries, the old Chapel passed into the possession of the Anglican Church and it is described as ‘a chapel of ease to Glossop.’ Only a few vestiges of the old Chapelry remain. The font is known to be in the neighbourhood, and in 1892, when new windows were placed in the present Chapel, the present minister (Rev. J. H. Partridge) discovered a ‘stoup’ (a receptacle for holy water) that had been embedded in the walls.”
During the ministry of the Rev. John Ashe, the second Puritan Chapel was apparently built, and in the vestry of the present Chapel is a piece of carved oak, bearing the letter B with the date 1703 inscribed. This second Chapel was probably constructed mainly out of materials once used in the Roman Catholic Chapel of St. Mary Magdalen.

View from the Gallery

The Old Parochial Chapel.
Among the registers of birth and baptisms deposited with the Registrar-General at Somerset House in 1837 is that of Charlesworth Independent Chapel covering the period 1786 to 1837. The Chapel is described in it as “Glossop St. Mary’s, Independent.” The date of formation is not given, but the words “Time out of mind” indicate its antiquity. An early entry describes the Rev. John Whitehead as “of St. Mary’s Chapel, Charlesworth.”
Dr. J. Charles Cox, the famous historian, says, in his Three Centuries of Derbyshire Annals, “there is one very remarkable, and we believe unique, incident in Derbyshire ecclesiastical history of this period. The old Parochial Chapel of Charlesworth, with burial rites attached, in Glossop parish, was suffered, in 1662, to remain in the hands of the Presbyterians, and neither the old building, nor its successor of 1798, seems to have heard the Church service since the days of the Commonwealth. It passed from the hands of the Presbyterians to the Independents in the reign of Queen Anne.” There is, apparently, no other instance in England of a Parochial Chapel or Church remaining in Nonconformist hands for nearly 300 years.

The First Puritan Minister.
Mr. Hosken reminds us that “In 1650 when the storm of the Civil War had spent itself, and the unfortunate King had fallen beneath the axe of the executioner, a form of Presbyterianism, which in reality was seventeenth century Congregationalism, took the place of the Episcopal form of Church Government. In this year (1650) we find one John Jones settled as minister at Charlesworth. He had been an Episcopalian, but dissatisfaction with the low morals of the clergy led him, soon after taking orders, to favour Presbyterianism.” Mr. Jones, who is described as an affectionate preacher and a zealous promoter of family worship, and was later imprisoned at Chester for his Nonconformity, was here about four or five, years and then removed, probably, to Chadkirk, where his son, the famous Gamaliel Jones, afterwards settled as a minister.

The Apostle of The Peak.
The Act of Uniformity came into force on St. Bartholomew’s Day, August 24th, 1662, “Black Bartholomew’s Day,” as it was afterwards called, and among the eighteen hundred conscientious ministers ejected from their livings in the Church of England was the Rev. William Bagshawe who had been Vicar of Glossop for about 11 years. He now took up his abode on his own estate at Ford Hall, Chapel en le Frith. Henceforth, in season and out of season, in spite of legal obstacles and the peril of informers, he did the work of an Evangelist throughout the High Peak, teaching and preaching both in his own home and from house to house. His arduous and faithful labours were attended with such success that he became known by his contemporaries as “The Apostle of the Peak.” He gathered regular congregations in the various places where he itinerated. Despite all prohibitions and the attendant dangers, we are told that he preached the Word of God “in corners” and the people flocked to hear him like “doves to a window.” The Presbyterian Survey of 1691 says, “Mr. Bagshawe, aged 63, supplies Tideswell, Chinley, Ashford, Middleton, Chelmarton, Chawesworth (Charlesworth) and Hucklow.” His connection with Charlesworth was long and intimate as is seen by the various references in his diary and, undoubtedly, being so near to Glossop where he had been Vicar for so long, large congregations would gather at his visits to receive his ministrations.
Striking testimony to the permanence as well as to the extent of the work of the “Apostle of the Peak” was supplied by Lord George Cavendish who observed in 1874 that “whatever religion existed a few years ago in the High Peak is due to Mr. Bagshawe.” The following extract from the Memorials of Charlesworth sums up the work of this first Nonconformist Minister of Charlesworth. “Many a danger he braved, many a storm he faced, many a wearisome journey he undertook to minister to his flock on this hill side. Traditions still linger in the neighbourhood of those stormy times: of how, during the dark days of the Five Mile and Conventicle Acts, men were placed at the foot of the hill and other positions of vantage, as watchers, to give the alarm at the first approach of enemies to the worshippers on the heights above. Verily it was with great price that men bought their religious privileges in those days. It was literally taking their lives in their hands, and this they did not hesitate to do in the interests of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. In addition to the dangers encountered from the opposition of active and plotting enemies, we may not overlook the distances travelled and the great difficulties of travelling two hundred years ago, if we would estimate rightly the zeal and consecration of those early pioneers of Nonconformity, and would learn at what cost they purchased for us the glorious privileges that have come down to us as our birthright. . . From the days of Bagshawe down to the present time the light kindled at Charlesworth has been kept burning; , through all the stormy years a succession of brave men have laboured to hold aloft the torch and to bear witness to the saving power of the gospel of Christ.”

Towards the end of his arduous ministry, William Bagshawe was assisted by his nephew, John Ashe, who undertook the care of the outlying congregations, probably including Charlesworth. Nothing definite is known of his ministry here and, in any case, he seems to have confined his ministry to Ashford and the neighbourhood of Chinley soon after the beginning of the eighteenth century. It is interesting to read in the Protestant Dissenter’s Magazine for 1798 that “for a long series of years Mr. Ashe was blessed with a strong constitution and almost uninterrupted health. He seemed to be cut out for the services to which Providence had called him and the country in which he was placed. Many a rough and bitter blast did he sustain in his passage over the high and bleak mountains of the Peak to the distant places where he preached. Many a struggle did he endure in getting through the deep and falling snows of winter, yet he went cheerfully on, like the Apostle, not counting his life dear to him, so that he might finish his course with joy in saving his own and other men’s souls. It was his custom to carry a book in his pocket wherever he went, and employ himself in reading as he travelled, whether on horse-back or on foot; in which he was frequently so intent as to lose his way before he was aware.”

Early Ministers.
Very little is known about the next two ministers of the Chapel. Joseph Holland was here for at least 20 years but no records of his labours remain. While he was here, the Chapel received its first two endowments as a Nonconformist Church. Mary Booth of Charlesworth bequeathed £1 annually for ever, to be paid to the Minister of Charlesworth. John Bennet of Dinting left to the Trustees the interest on £20 to be paid annually while a Dissenting Minister preaches; otherwise to be added to Captain Garlick’s charity for the poor of Gamesley.
Samuel Mercer began his ministry here about the year 1756. During his previous pastorate at Tockholes, Lancs., he had begun to lean towards Unitarianism and, consequently, had been forced to resign. The people at Charlesworth would be staunch Calvinists and Trinitarians, and, undoubtedly, as soon as they became aware of their Minister’s Unitarian leanings, they would show their resentment. In less than three years he had departed.
That our forebears zealously contended for the old faith is evidenced by their invitation to Richard Plumbe, of Heckmondwike Academy, to be their next Minister. He came in 1760. “Of a quiet and gentle disposition, his ministry did much towards establishing the confidence of the people which had been so rudely shaken by the teachings of his predecessor . . . During his pastorate, Charlesworth became an attractive centre; large congregations gathered round his ministry, many coming miles to hear him.” Besides his ministry of the Word, he appears to have educated certain young men, some of whom eventually became Christian ministers. It must have been with great regret that his people heard in 1772 of his decision to leave them for a wider sphere of influence at Castlegate Congregational Church, Nottingham. His obituary notice in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1791 seems to have been hitherto overlooked. He died on August 4th after a short illness. His knowledge of theology was extensive. He was a “tender father and diligent preceptor.” “As a friend, he was a social, cheerful, sympathetic and faithful; as a minister, deservedly approved by an affectionate and numerous congregation.” He was easy to approach and he cultivated peace with people of all denominations.

Rev. John Whitehead.
Heckmondwike Academy provided Charlesworth Chapel with a second successive minister in John Whitehead, who commenced his pastoral duties in 1772 and remained here until his death in 1813. He was a faithful Minister of Jesus Christ and under his guidance the congregation so increased that the old Chapel was regularly packed to overflowing. Owing to its exposure to wintry storms, the old building was too dilapidated to stand enlarging and it had to be taken down and rebuilt. It had stood for nearly a century. Mr. Hosken says that some old people, whose parents and grandparents remembered it, described it as “a small, square, stone building, with rough benches and a few straight-backed pews, the floor of mother earth, covered with straw or rushes to protect the feet—a very different place from the very beautiful commodious and comfortable building in which the Charlesworth Congregationalists of today conduct their worship.” A public meeting was called, and, after much deliberation, it was agreed that the old Chapel be taken down and rebuilt. A subscription list was opened, and a deputation was appointed to visit the seatholders and others in order to solicit subscriptions. The work of rebuilding was begun, and by the end of 1797 was being actively carried forward. In the west end of the Chapel is to be seen a square stone high up in the wall, inscribed “C.C. 1797,” which shows how far advanced the work already was by the close of that year. In March 1798, when the work was nearing completion, another public meeting was held when trustees of the new Chapel were appointed, with power to let sittings to those who desired them, for the benefit of the Minister. The front seats of the loft (i.e. gallery) were to be 1/6, second seats 1/-, third seats 9d., fourth seats 6d. per quarter, per sitting. Collectors were to be appointed to go to the seatholders to collect the '‘quarterly wages” on the Sunday they were due, at the end of Divine Service. If a seatholder ceased to pay, his right to the seat was forfeited. Provided that full payment was made for each sitting, the seatholders were guaranteed by the trustees full possession of their seats “without being molested of their rights and privileges of the same.”

A Link with the Past.
An old document has recently come to light and is preserved in Glossop Public Library. In the following extract, words inserted in handwriting are printed in italics: —
“THIS INDENTURE Made the Tenth Day of November In the Year of our Lord 1764 between the Most Noble EDWARD Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal and Hereditary Earl Marshal of England, of the one Part, and Thomas Goddard of Thornset Hamlet in the Parish of Glossop in the County Derby, Clothier, William Shepley, Tanner, and George Shaw, Clothier, of Charlesworth in the Parish of Glossop aforesaid of the other Part, Witnesseth, That the said Duke . . . hath demised, leased, and to Farm Letten unto the said Thomas Goddard, William Shepley and George Shaw All that Messuage or Tenement Consisting of the Building used as a Dissenting Meeting place or Chapel, And those two pieces of Parcels of Land Meadow or Pasture called the Chapel Yard and their part of the Coumbs All which said Premises are Situate lying and being in Charlesworth aforesaid ... and the said Closes, Pieces, and Parcels of Ground do contain Nine Acres and Six Perches of Statute Measure; ... To have and to hold the said Messuage or Tenement unto the said Thomas Goddard, William Shepley and George Shaw from the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel now last passed, for and during and unto the full End and Term of Twenty One Years, Yielding and Paying therefore, yearly and every Year during the said Term, the Rent or Sum of Two pounds and Nine Shillings of lawful Money of Great Britain, at the Feasts of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Michael the Archangel, by even and equal Portions; . . .”
The document ends with certain provisos which safeguard the rights of the Duke, finishing with the words “In Witness whereof the said Parties to these Presents have hereunto interchangeably set their Hands and Seals, the Day and Year first above written. Sealed and Delivered (being first duly Stamp't) in the Presence of Rowd. Conyers, Nathl. Eyre.” The Duke’s seal is affixed and the signature added “Norfolk E.M.

The New Chapel.
We are indebted to the Rev. T. J. Hosken for this description. “There are few more attractive spots on the countryside than Charlesworth on a bright summer’s day. The beautiful valley of Longdendale in the distance, the wide landscape bounded by the distant hill ranges and dotted over with sleepy hamlets and peaceful farmsteads, and over all the quiet peculiar to Sabbath in a country village. One can easily imagine the pleasant gathering on that hill-side on July 18th, 1798. From all the country round the worshippers gather for the great occasion. One can picture them gathering in clusters, or sitting about on the grave stones, discussing the great work of rebuilding the Chapel. With mingled feelings of pride and reverence they would regard their new sanctuary, erected at such a cost of time and money and anxious thought. It has no beauties of architecture to recommend it, a plain, square stone building, yet the spot on which it stood, to these worshippers, was holy ground. It had been endeared to them by the holiest of memories, and they were attached to it by the most sacred of ties. It was the spot on which their fathers had fought the battles of the Lord for religious freedom, and when the fitful struggles of life were over they had been laid to rest in the quiet burial ground surrounding the building. It was a proud day, therefore, when they met to consecrate this new building to the worship of the God of their fathers.”

Rev. A. D. Upton, Rev. J. H. Partridge, Rev. A. E. Wolfenden,
Rev. C. Bateman, Rev. T. J. Hosken, Rev. J. Wilson.

Mr. Whitehead died in 1813 and a year later the Rev. William Marsh of Higher Ardwick succeeded him in the pastorate. Although a modest man, one who sought no limelight, he was a thoughtful and earnest preacher. “He was thoroughly evangelical in doctrine and was exceptionally powerful in prayer, often melting his congregation into tears.” Realising the need for education, he started a day school in which he himself taught the village children, and a night school for those who worked during the day. Cottage prayer meetings and visits to outlying farms were part of his faithful ministry. Truly was he respected and esteemed by all. He died in 1821 and, like Mr. Whitehead before him, was laid to rest in the quiet graveyard under the shadow of the Chapel.

In 1821, John Adamson, who came from Patricroft, began his 26 years’ ministry. His Calvinistic views would be greatly appreciated by many Charlesworth folk, but his dislike of instrumental music in church worship was not shared by all. He soon published a pamphlet Entitled, ‘ A Few Candid Reasons why Instruments of Music should not be used in the Worship of God.” After a long tussle, the band of instrumentalists was removed. We are told, however, of one old man who, refusing to give in, brought his instrument Sunday by Sunday and continued to provide from a pew the music the minister had forbidden. Another amusing incident is preserved for us in an old diary belonging to one, George Booth of Chisworth. He records that after the Sunday services on September 18th, 1833, the Sexton, James Garside, went to Martha Booth’s, whose public house at the foot of Chapel Brow was called, “The Cradle and Coffin.” Here, probably when he was the worse for drink, he sold the Chapel hearse for five shillings to Joseph Booth. The wheels were taken off the hearse, as they were not part of the bargain, and it was duly placed outside the buyer’s door. A week later, the trustees met but they decided reluctantly that “it did not belong to them to chastise the Tormentors of the Old Hearse.” What became of the hearse we do not know, but James Garside was peremptorily dismissed, only to be reinstated a fortnight later.
During Mr. Adamson’s ministry, Charlesworth School was built (1823) and the Chapel was lengthened at the rear by four yards. The Minister’s narrow views began to change in favour of a larger gospel. This progress was not appreciated by some of the more old-fashioned members who cried out for his resignation, but the majority stood by their beloved Pastor. The result was that a number of those who clung to the old narrow faith seceded from the Chapel, and. taking to themselves the name of “Particular Baptists,” set up their own Chapel on the Glossop Road in 1835. In 1839, the Derbyshire Congregational Union reports that “This ancient Church has long enjoyed the labours of brother Adamson and a large Congregation and a good Sunday School prove that he has not laboured in vain in the Lord.”

Mr. Adamson died in October 1848, a few months after his successor, Robert Wilson of Cockermouth, had been welcomed to the pastorate. He was a zealous evangelical preacher and attracted large congregations. His systematic methods are to be seen in his quarterly reports to the Church of his Pastoral work. Here is his report for August 1848: “During the past three months I have preached 41 discourses; 32 at Charlesworth; 1 at Padfield: 2 at Thornsett; 3 at Hyde; 3 at Ashton. I have paid 43 pastoral visits, and 51 visits to the sick. Of these visited in sickness four died—one in infancy, one utterly without hope, one extremely ignorant, one apparently interested in divine things. I have been present at 10 prayer meetings, the attendance good at Simmondley, but indifferent at other places. Visited the Sabbath School on 7 different Sabbaths, was much pleased with the conduct of the children, but was much grieved to witness a want of male teachers. I have buried 15 individuals, of these half died in infancy, and only one reached three score years. Baptized 16 children, of these 6 have died.” Mr. Wilson left for Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in 1853, despite his people’s earnest entreaties to him to remain at Charlesworth.

Mr. Bateman, who came in 1854, remained for six years. ‘As a preacher he was undoubtedly powerful and direct; his aim throughout was to apply the great truths of the Bible to the everyday life of men; hence he frequently seized upon public events that were transpiring around him and used them to illustrate some great truth. In his character were combined sound integrity with strong and tender affection, blended with much unobtrusiveness and deep self-humiliation. He also possessed considerable talent for poetry. His theological views were sound; his sermons faithful, earnest and practical.” He left Charlesworth for Newmarket in 1861 and when he died, 12 years later, his remains were brought back to Charlesworth to be buried close to the north side of the Chapel.

There are still those today who remember Mr. Wilson, who came here from Barrow and Repton in January, 1862, and was minister until his death nearly 22 years later. His ministry was eminently successful although at first the times were bad and distressing. His style of preaching was easy and his sermons were well illustrated by anecdotes. His unswerving loyalty to the Chapel and the way in which he resisted bitter attacks made on it have been recorded in Mr. Hosken’s book. The charge that Charlesworth people were being poisoned by water that filtered down through the graveyard was refuted largely through the action of Mr. John Marsland, who had samples taken and analysed. While Mr. Wilson was here, the Chapel site and burial ground were purchased from Lord Howard for £600, and in 1878 the Chapel was re-pewed at a cost of £300. Not only was Mr. Wilson a faithful minister to his own people, but he also took an interest in the wider work of his own and other denominations. As a token of the great esteem in which he was held, he was unanimously elected Chairman of Derbyshire Congregational Union in 1880.

He who was destined to be our Historian came from Tabernacle, Stockport, to Charlesworth in 1884, and although his ministry was of only four years’ duration, it was richly blessed of God. During his stay here, new galleries were erected in the Chapel. His other charges were Westgate, Burnley; Tacket Street, Ipswich and London Road, Lowestoft. He died on March 1st, 1931, and the Congregational Year Book says, “He was a convinced Free Churchman of the old sturdy type. To him the distinctive principles of Congregationalism were central and to them he was unflinchingly loyal . . . His own personal faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord was unquestionable, and his character and life harmonized with his profession. None who knew him intimately ever doubted the genuineness of his devotion, the purity of his motives and the humility of his spirit. He was wise in counsel, conciliatory in spirit, sympathetic with human weakness, and a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” His own memory is for ever perpetuated by his book, Memorials of Charlesworth.

In 1889 Mr. Partridge, of revered memory, began his ministry at Charlesworth coming here from Silverdale and Milton, Staffs. The records still contain a copy of the ‘call’ sent to him and it will be read with interest today.
“We the undersigned, on behalf of the Church and Congregation worshipping at the Independent Chapel, Charlesworth, beg to inform you that we have by a unanimous vote at a Meeting held on Wednesday and Sunday last—April 24th and 28th— decided to give you a ‘call’ to the Pastorate of our Chapel, subject to the following conditions: 1st, that you shall subscribe to our Trust Deed and to the Doctrines contained therein;
2nd, that you shall not on any Sunday vacate the Pulpit or delegate any supply to the same without the consent and knowledge of the Church or its Deacons;
3rd, that you shall visit every sick member of the Church once at least in every month and oftener if necessary;
4th, that you shall visit every sick member of the Congregation once at least in every three months and oftener if necessary, provided the same are not suffering from any infectious disease;
5th, that you shall visit or cause to be visited, every member of the Congregation once at least in every twelve months;
6th, that you shall receive for your services, for the first two years, a salary at the rate of £120 per annum, for the second two years, a salary at the rate of £130 per annum, provided always that the monthly Pew Rents make the above-named sum, together with the free use of the Manse and all Funeral and other dues.
Signed on behalf of the Church, George Braddock, Caleb Cooper, James Phillips, John Chadwick, Samuel Cockayne, George Hadfield (Deacons).
Signed on behalf of the Seatholders, John Marsland, James Brown, David Shepley, Charles Chadwick. Robert Moss.”
During Mr. Partridge’s long and faithful ministry, new windows were put in the Chapel, the Sunday School premises were enlarged and a new Manse erected. Failing health compelled him to resign at the close of 1922 and he died the following March, greatly beloved. He had exercised an honoured and fruitful ministry, having been Chairman of the Derbyshire Congregational Union in 1906.

Mr. Upton started his ministerial career at Youlgreave and Middleton-by-Youlgreave, Derbyshire, and after a stay of nine years, proceeded to Hyde, Cheshire. His brief pastorate at Charlesworth began in 1923, and his preaching attracted large congregations. On leaving Charlesworth, he settled at the Congregational Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he exercised a fruitful and successful ministry. While in America, he resumed his academic studies and gained his Doctorate of Divinity. He retired from the Ministry about two years ago but is still actively engaged as a lecturer and preacher in the Washington district.

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Last updated: 10 February 2021