Solomon's Methodist Church
Yet another former place of worship stands empty with - as is usually the case - the decline of congregational numbers being a cause.
I have not named the church or stated its location. No other reports exist - to date - of this church and a local resident I chatted to after taking the photographs, asked me not to name the church for fear of attracting vandals when I explained to him why I had been inside.
Founded in 1887, this small Church of Primitive Methodist Denomination - located in a quiet country village - has become an ecclesiastical bystander of the modern world. The stain glass windows are still intact in their brilliant blues, greens and yellows, however there are signs of some elements of the interior having been regrettably stripped away with others lamentably vandalised.
Two stone wall monuments have survived; one in memory of John Lomas - one of the founders of the church - who passed away in 1909 aged 65 years. The second, in memory of Solomon Wood who served for 36 years as a teacher, superintendent, class leader and treasurer until - aged 72 years - his passing in 1912.
A Ralph Allison & Sons of London piano now gathers dust as the wall paint peels with neglect, the building itself awaiting its fate. The church doesn't have a graveyard, yet any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853 and any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.
The final act of worship was held on Sunday July 20th 2014, with the closing service conducted by the Rev D. Hall. The Church then closed for good.
In a Derbyshire newspaper in June 2014 it was reported that:
Residents of a small community have expressed sadness at the proposed closure of the village’s only church. The Church is closing its doors to the public next month because of a dwindling congregation and shortage of funds required to bring the building up to standard.
Superintendant Minister of the Circuit of the Methodist Church, the Rev Andrew Parker, said: “The service will give thanks for the 100-plus years the church has served the community. We never take these decisions lightly and would love to keep the church open, but sadly we haven’t got the resources, the energy or the money to fund the repairs. This is unfortunately the state of play for many chapels across the country”.
Mr Parker said no decision had yet been taken on the building’s future, adding: “We will have to abide by charity law which says we have got to get the best possible value for our resources. We are waiting to see what that will be.”
The same newspaper reported in November 2014 that:
Residents are up in arms about plans to demolish the village’s former Methodist Church and replace it with six houses. A planning application for the site has been submitted by the Methodist Circuit with a planning statement accompanying the application stating:
“The Methodist Church wishes to dispose of the building and site on behalf of the owners, the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Residential use was considered the only option as there is no viable commercial interest in such a property in the area.”
But local resident Anne Storer said: “Residents are shocked by this proposal, which has been made within three months of closure of the chapel. As the building is well-built and structurally sound, many in the community expected that it would be put onto the market for conversion to a new use. My view - which is shared by others - is that this application could destroy one of the oldest and most attractive buildings in the village. It has been part of the history of the area for 126 years and contributes immensely to the character and identity of the village. It is irreplaceable and should be valued as a heritage asset.”
Personally speaking, cramming a few modern houses in this space doesn't seem to be as beneficial as keeping the building open - in a renovated state - for the wider community to use as a meeting place, incorporating many different uses as has been the case for some other places of worship after closure.