Hovingham Church History


Malton became the circuit town for Wesleyan Methodists in 1794 and Hovingham was the first Wesleyan village Chapel in the area in 1815. It was built in 1815 but there was the first recorded Dissenters’ Meeting House in Hovingham dated 6 August 1761, possibly for early Wesleyans signed by Willm Richmond, John Fox, George Fawcet, John Willson, Thos Baker and Joseph Harper. Another followed in 1767 with Samuel Freeze, W Whitwell, William Fawcet, John Britton, Thos Gray and Simeon Russell. The latter person is mentioned in the Visitation Returns of Archbishop Drummond for 1764, as a Methodist preacher and farmer in the parish. In 1775 more names include Robert Foxton, Benjn Rhodes, Matthew Milner, Sim: Russell, Richard Hodgson and William Marshal. Many deeds have survived the first being 27 May 1788 a Power of Attorney of William Freeze of Amherst Nova Scotia Farmer, eldest son and heir at law of Samuel Freeze… house and yard at Hovingham… Therein the connection to being party of early Yorkshire Settlers emigrating to Nova Scotia in the 1770s and building the first Methodist Chapel in Canada at Point de Bute, New Brunswick.

The faithful old coke stove

Our Chapel is Listed Grade II but has been remodelled as shown by windows and a door rebricked. There may have been a balcony or gallery. There are five plaques inside, the first remembers Frances and George Leefe of Fryton; the second reads to William Dobinson of Stoke Newington, London, Esqre, A Native of Hovingham having purchased a Cottage and Garden adjoining this Chapel in 1866; thirdly in memory of William Stonehouse and Elizabeth his wife in 1880; fourthly In memory of Elizabeth Sidgwick.. this organ presented by her daughters 1900 and lastly on the oak lectern in loving memory of David Jeffels 1954-1967. There is a hand drawn quotation above the pulpit which reads ‘The Lord is in His Holy Temple’.

In the Nineteenth Century the village also held Primitive Methodist meetings. In 1822 Thomas Dobson, a Tallow Chandler, asked for a licence to meet in his granary. No picture survives but tradition has it that it could have been in an upper storey building, where the garage for the Old Police House is now situated. A circuit plan has survived for 1851 and is held with the Wesley Historical Society Collection at Huddersfield University. On the plan James Yanwith and J Waller represented Hovingham Primitive Methodists. Some of our Chapel members must have had an interest in politics as it is recorded that Hovingham petitioned Parliament, along with many societies, to proceed with the Abolition of Slavery Bill of 1830. The unfortunate fire of both Houses of Parliament means their names cannot be found.

Many services would be held such as a Love Feast, and funds raised for Home Missions, the Foreign Missionary Society and Temperance Society. Local Preachers helped serve the circuit and Thomas Hodgson was one, also being a Class Leader, Chapel Steward, Band of Hope and Sunday School worker as well as a Parish Councillor, School Manager and Overseer of the poor.

The erection of the Central Hall in Westminster was financed by an appeal of gifts of a guinea (=£1.05p) and Hovingham was well represented by 20 people donating. Their surnames included Fletcher, Hornsey, Fewster, Sidgwick, Harrison, Hodgson, Hesslegrave, Hunton, Dawson, Savage and Bickers. On a sad note faithful members George and Annie Marie Dawson lost three sons Edward, John and Reginald, in the First World War, and another member soldier Sidney Bowes died.

Many villages and towns had both Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist Chapel buildings but in 1932 they amalgamated. In Hovingham they continued meeting together in the old Wesleyan Chapel. The Sunday School was very popular and apart from learning your ‘piece’ for the Chapel Anniversary, there were summer outings to Scarborough either by charabanc or on the train, later by bus. The numbers swelled during the Second World War as evacuees were sent from Hull, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough. Harvest Festivals are enjoyed each year, together with services during Advent and Christmas and our special Covenant service early January. There are no more Carol Singing groups going into the village and surroundings and no collections for National Children’s Homes or ‘sunny smiles’ charity booklet.

Renovation of the Chapel was completed before the Bicentenary of our Chapel. This was celebrated over two days being Saturday 13thJune 2015 when there was an exhibition of memorabilia in the Chapel, followed by a talk on its history and in the evening a super concert was given by York City Gospel Choir that filled the Village Hall. We all enjoyed the Special Anniversary Service on Sunday 14th June 2015 led by Rev David Emison, who had been a member of District Property Committee.

The years have rolled by with baptisms, weddings and funerals taking place, and numbers have slowly decreased but our Fellowship remains strong. We join our fellow Methodists at Slingsby and have ecumenical meetings with the local Street Churches. I love the last sentence in my book being advocated by Langtoft’s local vicar Rev Thomas Atkinson in the 18th Century ‘if God has a people on earth, the Methodists are among them’

Copies of A History of Methodism Over 200 Years 1815-2015: a short study in celebration of its Bicentenary can still be bought for £7 from Sue Goodwill sue@goodwillnet.co.uk


Ryedale Methodist Circuit – www.ryedalemethodist.org.uk

Yorkshire North and East District – www.yorkshirenemethodist.org

The Methodist Church of Britain – www.methodist.org.uk

My Primitive Methodists – www.myprimitivemethodists.org.uk

My Wesleyan Ancestors – www.mywesleyanmethodists.org.uk

Methodist Heritage for Wesley Historical Society, Yorkshire, Huddersfield – www.methodistheritage.org.uk/wesleylibrary.htm

Methodist Heritage: Museum of Primitive Methodism –