Kingsclere Methodist Church
Methodism began in Kingsclere in 1797 in a house in Swan street registered by Richard Dyer. Moving in 1808 to the home of John Hall. The current chapel was built between 1808 and 1812, and was dedicated in 1826. The distinctive grade 2 listed building has a gabled front wall of square knapped flints with stone dressings. The unusual oak doors were installed in the 1940’s and are originally from an Anglican church. Sadly original iron railings atop the front garden wall were removed at the same time for the war effort.
In 1895 a small piece of adjoining land was purchased from Charles Sidery for 100 pounds, and a further 700 pounds was spent building the schoolroom, which was opened in October 1895. In the November the chapel interior also benefited from new pitch pine pews, a matching communion table and wrought iron raised pulpit. The original tiered upper gallery was also moved back to admit more light, as the seating capacity was increased to 280, kept snug by tortoise solid fuel stoves.
In 1952 the schoolroom was used by the local secondary school and many people still have fond memories of being taught in the comfort of the new gas heaters, as the original 1895 stove was still in use at the time.
By 1987, the buildings were in a sad condition, and restoration began in 1991, but not before a section of the roof blew off in the 1990 winter storms. This event was matched by the discovery of a vault under the entrance porch, in which lay two coffins, probably of the churches founder members. Unfortunately, during the work a painted arch over the pulpit was lost, but many original features were preserved in the interior. Finally, in April 1992, at a cost of just over 100,000 pounds the building was re-opened.
In March 2000, improvements were made to the front wall, and the entrance altered to enable full wheelchair access. The building has disabled facilities, an audio and video system, and an enclosed rear garden for the summer months.
In August 2012 the buildings were refitted with a new central heating system, and further enhancements are planned to allow better use. But if you happen along you will find the same warm, friendly welcome as given by the original worshippers, along with plenty of tea and coffee.