1888 – 1907

Abbey Hill Church 1888 to 1897

More notes from the church meeting minutes

The Rev. John Naylor left in September, 1889 and went to St Austell. The letter recommending him noted ‘He always made our troubles his own’. There was no pastor during 1890.

On 23rd April 1891, Mr George Field from the Nottingham Institute was appointed for a July start by a vote of ‘over three fourths of the meeting’. There must have been some worries about this appointment as a clause was put in his acceptance stating that he would resign if two thirds of the membership so requested. In the event this was not needed as, judging by the number of new members shown in the chart, he proved very popular.

Year New members Left Baptisms Marriages Funerals
1888 2 3 3 2 0
1889 3 6 3 4 3
1890 0  no minister 0 0 0 0
1891 10 4 2 2 2
1892 18 3 2 3 2
1893 12 2 1 3 5
1894 9 5 4 2 1
1895 3 0 0 6 5
1896 4 19* 3 2 4
1897 6 0 10 3 1

 

* non-attenders taken off the membership list

At the meeting on October 5th, 1892 a proposal was put forward that a small gallery be built for the organ which was ‘at present suffering harm and not heard to advantage being stored away from the congregation’. ( I wonder where it was!) Fund raising would be started and ‘It was suggested that the Ladies be asked to devote the proceeds of their work meeting which they are about to start to this purpose’. They did agree.  As now, things progressed only slowly and the next mention is on May 30th 1894 when two proposals were put to the meeting. Should they build a manse for the pastor or a gallery for the choir and organ. The

 

gallery won the vote (22 votes to 10) and £46 was promised by the members present. On March 7th 1895, almost half the cost of £299.18 having been raised, the meeting decided to go ahead and work commenced. There is no indication of where the pastor was living.

In January 1896 a letter of thanks was sent to the Trustees of Holly Walk Chapel for a gift of £100 from the proceeds of the sale of the church.. The gallery was finished in July 1896 and a balance remained of 13s1p which they decided would be used to print and circulate balance sheets to the subscribers.

In December 1896 a new minute book was needed. A list of all members was made in the new book. There were 77 of them, 29 men and 48 women.

There was panic at a special meeting on Dec 1st 1897. Mr Field was away preaching before a vacant church!. He might be leaving!! A committee was set up to so that ‘the necessary steps be taken to retain Mr Field’s services among us’ In the event he did not leave and his stipend was raised by ‘£20 per year to show in a practical manner our appreciation of his decision to remain among us’.

Another example of what may now seems a harsh decision occurred in 1892.

Miss Priscilla R. had requested membership. She must have indicated that she had at one time attended the Wesleyan Chapel at Castle End. They elders decided to write to their Society Steward inquiring about her. He replied ‘ Miss R was struck off the Class Book for indecency with men.   She was brought before the Super. and did not deny the charge. This is six years ago. I hope she has repented and is leading a Christian life now. I have not seen or heard any  misconduct since that time.’

After discussion it was decided to refuse her application. The letter to Priscilla informing her of this decision ended, ‘Trusting  that the Great Head of the Church will lead you aright.’ The church was certainly not willing to help!

Abbey Hill Church 1898 to 1907

Final extracts from 2 church meeting minute books, 1878-1907

In February 1902 the Rev A Field received a call from Throop Church in Hampshire and he left in March. The Rev. C H Statham was appointed in October. His pay was £117 from the church, £8 from the Arlidge Charity, making £117. He received £20 to help with the move.

We can obtain some idea now of the similarities and difference between the church now and 100 years ago. The records are unfortunately not consistently kept for a thorough comparison to be made. For example during the ten years in question only two reports of the annual meeting of Church and Congregation appear in February 1899 and January 1905. In 1899, 60 or 70 attended after a ‘feast’ and reports were made on the work of the church, finances, Bible class for young Women, Christian Endeavour Society, Social Institute and Choir. In 2005, 90 attended tea and more the meeting. Reports are mentioned from the Sunday School, Band of Hope, Christian Endeavour Society, Adult Bible Class, Men’s Institute, Burton Green Coffee Meetings and Ladies Sewing Class. A collection was taken to clear the deficit for the year. £11.0.0 was collected.

In April 2004 the minister proposed to institute a church anniversary. It was held on  September 18th. There were morning and evening services. The Rev W Young of Calcutta gave a talk to the young people in the afternoon. 100 people attended the harvest tea on the Monday followed by a talk on James Chalmers. (Who?) This became an annual event.

Money was problem then as now. The Congregational Union proposed a ‘Twentieth Century Fund’ requiring £1.10.0 per person which Abbey Hill said they could not afford and that members could contribute if they so wished. £54 was contributed in 1901.

In September 2003 it was decided to use individual Communion cups and two trays each with forty glasses costing £2.8.0 were purchased. We still use these trays. Two mentions of Sales of Work are mentioned. £71.19.4½ was raised in Oct 2003 and £54.3.5½ in Oct 2009. £10 of this was given to the Minister as a gift. Some was then spent on raising the pulpit nine inches and re-carpeting it. (The pulpit was lowered about 20 years ago).

Snippets:

Oct. 1900. Salvation Army closed in Kenilworth.

Jan. 1903. Proposed that deacons serve for three years (as now)

1903. Pastors pay increased to £132.

1905. £2 raised for London Missionary Society from Self Denial Week.

1909. For church anniversary pastor suggested that all seats should be ‘free’ in that day. (can anyone explain this?)

Nov 1906. Letter from Congregational Union warning about sending children to any Convent School!!

Aug 1909. Started choosing candidates for deacons by nomination (the method used now for elders. Previously all men members in church  were voted upon.

Note that up to now only men have served as deacons, members of the chapel committee, representatives of the church for the congregational union, Leamington and District Union of Evangelical Churches, Free Church Council and Arlidge Charity.

 Incidentally one man was both treasurer and secretary and when he resigned  (worn out?) another man was elected to do both jobs.

Year New members Left Baptisms Marriages Funerals
1898 0 0 6 6 1
1899 9 5 8 3 3
1900 9 1 9 2 5
1901 12 5 10 4 3
1902 3 (102members) 22* 3 No more 1
1903 5 0 6 weddings 0
1904 16 0 13 registered 6
1905 15 after a mission 3 6 In this 2
1906 8 5 9 book 1
1907 6 1 10   5

* Membership list checked and names removed.