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History of the Methodist Chapel

By John Barnes

Kings Nympton Methodist Chapel - Bethel 

The Act of Supremacy in 1534 made King Henry V111 supreme head of the Church of England. Later Acts of Toleration granted some freedom of worship to Dissenters/Non-Conformists. Protestants dissenting from the Church of England were exempted from certain penalties of the law but worship outside the established church was only permitted when the place of meeting was certified by the Bishop of the Diocese.

The present fellowship owes its origin not to a building of stone and cob but to men who, having learnt of the new evangelism which was spreading in the country, wished to meet for less formal prayer and worship in their homes. They were in fact Kings Nympton's first Dissenters.

Copies of two early nineteenth century certificates from Kings Nympton parish are printed below.

April 1806

To the Right Reverend Father in GOD John by Divine Permission Lord Bishop of Exeter or to his Vicar General in spirituals. 

We whose Names are hereunto subscribed do hereby certify that we have appropriated and set apart a Room in the ground floor of the Dwelling house of Thomas Skinner at the farm called Venn in the Parish of Kingsnympton and County of Devon for the public worship of Almighty God by a congregation of his Majesty's Protestant subjects dissenting from the Church of England which we request may be registered pursuant to act of Parliament.

    John Skinner                Thomas Skinner

    Francis Tucker              Saml. Dunn

    Thos. Rowland             Willm. Rumbelow

    Michael Tapp               Benjamin Bowden

    Thomas Lane               John Buzacott

    John Avery                   Willm Widgery


18th. April 1806 Let this be registered.

Ralph Barnes


July 1819

To the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Exeter and to his Registrar I, John Tucker of the Parish of Kingsnympton in the County of Devon, yeoman, do hereby certify, that my dwelling house situate at Oakwill in the Parish aforesaid is intended forthwith to be used as a place of religious worship by an Assembly or Congregation of Protestants: and I do hereby require you to register and record the same, according to the provisions of an act passed in the 52nd year of the reign of his Majesty, King George the Third, intituled "An act to repeal certain acts, and amend other acts, relating to religious worship, and assemblies, and persons teaching and preaching therein;” and hereby request a certificate thereof. Witness my hand this Second day of July 1819

John Tucker

I, James Carrington Registrar of the court of the Bishop of Exeter do hereby certify that a certificate of which the above is a true copy, was this day delivered to me, to be registered and recorded persuant to the act of Parliament therein mentioned. Dated this fourteenth day of July 1819J.

Carrington - Registrar

Extracts from later certificates

To the Actuary Assumed during the vacancy of the See of Exeter Robert Wollacott, labourer certified that his dwelling house situate in the parish of Kingsnympton was intended to be used as a place of religious worship…. and certified and signed on 27th. day of October 1820

by Thomas Turner- Acting Actuary


Of significance is a certificate dated 12th October 1832 - this refers to a newly erected chapel in Kings Nympton. This was written by James Thorne of Langtree and it stated that the chapel was now in the occupation of the Bible Christian Connexion. Mr. Thorne was an influential speaker and preacher in the North Devon area at that time.

To the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Exeter or to his Registrar.

I, Edwin Arkell, Minister of the Parish of Chulmleigh in the County of Devon, do hereby certify that a chapel now in the occupation of the Bible Christian Connexion situated in the Parish of Kingsnympton in the County of Devon is intended forthwith to be used as a place of Religious Worship by an Assembly or Congregation of Protestants and I do hereby require you to Register and record the same according to an act passed in the 52nd Year of the reign of His Majesty King George the Third intituled "An Act to repeal certain acts and amend other acts relating to religious worship and assemblies and persons teaching and preaching therein and I hereby request a certificate thereof.

Witness my hand this thirteenth day of January 1840

Edwin Arkell

Names of chapels at this time reflected ‘the real faith which saves': Providence, Ebenezer, Zion'. Kings Nympton chapel was named ‘Bethel' and this name has continued to the present day.

The foundation stone of a new chapel was laid on 23rd July 1862. The site was given by Mr. Aaron Buckingham of Lake Farm and his son Mr. A. Buckingham. The building was completed in 1863.

A newspaper published on 23rd. July 1904 reported


Bible Christians of Kingsnympton re-opened their chapel after a renovation so extensive as to amount practically to re-building. The restoration is largely the result of the efforts of Mr. A. Buckingham J.P. The work has cost a little under £300 and £120 has been raised.

At the evening meeting Mr. Buckingham, amidst considerable applause, promised a donation of £50 towards the rebuilding expenses. It is suggested that the balance which remains should be obtained by means of a bazaar.

A poster advertising a Bazaar on Thursday March 23rd. 1905 showed the cost of rebuilding to be £290 9s 8d - donations from interested friends- £149 19s 11d - leaving a balance yet to be raised of £149 19s 11d.

There was to be sale of Useful and Fancy Articles suitable for wearing apparel as well as for fancy and ornamental purposes.

Donations in cash, Large or small, (the larger the Better), will be gratefully received by

Ministers              Rev W Veale, Rev. G.W.Hicks

Chapel Steward    Mr. Buckingham, J.P.

Society Stewards Mr. Cole, Mr. J. Sing


On 1st October 1906 the chapel was registered for marriages. The first marriage took place on 24th October 1906 between Thomas Govier and Ellen Down.

About 1908 a Band of Hope Society was formed by Mr. Charles Friendship (who kept the village shop). A photograph taken around that time shows sixteen men and boys with a wide range of musical instruments including drums ,trumpets, an oboe, a recorder, and a triangle. The big drum showing ‘BAND OF HOPE SOCIETY'.


Members were dressed smartly – jackets, shirts and ties and hats – the men wearing bowler hats and the others in caps.

For many years in the early 1900s a Service of Song was held in the chapel on Christmas night.

Directory references show

1850 The Bible Christians have a small chapel here.

1914 There is a United Methodist Chapel in the village.

1939 There is Methodist Chapel in the village

The chapel was renovated in 1929, work started on July 15th and was completed by August 11th.

In 1937 a portion of Steeple Meadow on the west side of the chapel was purchased to be a burial ground adjoining Bethel chapel.

The first burial was in 1938.

Gravestones set in front of the present chapel indicate that before 1904 burials were made in front of the previous chapel. Among them are

Richard Buckingham – died at Lake Farm- interred April 13th. 1878

Other burials were in the Parish Churchyard.

In 1959 a field on the east side of the chapel was purchased and part was later developed for a car park.

By the end of the century the burial ground was full and in 2000 part of the field adjacent to the car park was consecrated for burials

1863 - 1963

Centenary Celebrations were held on Saturday and Sunday, 24th and 25th August. On Saturday afternoon the recently made car park and new kitchen premises were opened by Mr. and Mrs. E. Down from Whipton. This was followed by a public tea. In the evening a new electronic organ was opened by Mrs, A. M. Petherick (Chawleigh) and a concert was given by the St. Sidwells–with–Providence Choir from Exeter. The Chairman was the Rev. J. Russell Pope, Chairman of the Plymouth and Exeter Methodist District. On Sunday The Rev Russell Pope conducted both afternoon and evening services.


Mapping the way forward - Regrouping for Mission

Recently the Methodist Connexion asked the Methodist Districts to plan to regroup the Circuits to promote the best way forward in Mission Outreach. Such proposals required careful thought, prayer and compassion in the challenges which some chapel fellowships would face. Members believe that all discussions and decisions have been made with God's guiding hand.

From September 2011 Kings Nympton chapel became part of the South Molton Circuit that will be renamed ‘The South Molton - Ringsash Methodist Circuit.'

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