History of Ketton
we hear of Methodism in Ketton is in 1834 - just three years before Victoria
became queen - when Joseph Cragg, a miller from Empingham, bought “a house and
a spot of ground built on certain waste land in Ketton”. Located behind the bakehouse in Bull Lane, it
was a two room cottage which he then converted,
mostly at his own expense, into a Wesleyan Methodist chapel.
it seems likely that there were already Methodists in Ketton to form a nucleus
of a new congregation, this was a real act of faith. There could be no certainty that the new
church would flourish or even survive, nor that Joseph would ever be repaid the
purchase price of £28, in those days a significant sum sufficiant to pay the
wages of an agricultural worker for around eighteen months.
chapel opened for worship on 13 September 1834.
In the event it did take root,
and three years later was in a position to repay Joseph. The original list of trustees gives us the
first Ketton Methodists whose names we know, all of them substantial members of
the village community. It also includes
two from Empingham, indicating continued support from a large and well
established church. For this Ketton should always be grateful.
know nothing more of those early days, the people who made up the congregation,
it’s life and worship. But we do know
that the Church both flourished and outgrew it’s premises, since within a
generation it was planning a new purpose-built chapel.
When on 16th July 1864
the Wesleyan General Chapel Committee gave permission for a new building it
stipulated that the cost should not exceed £220, with any debt cleared within
four years. Ketton does not seem to have
felt too restricted by rules, since the contract price was £258!
chosen, at the bottom of Bull Lane and only a hundred metres or so from the old
chapel, was not the easiest for building
since it involved a high retaining wall on one side. It was however a
peaceful spot, and central for the village as it was then. It is still a
peaceful spot, with summer evening worship enhanced by the sounds of birdsong
and the stream which along side.
The stone laying took place on 13 September
1864, the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the original chapel, with the
opening in the following January. Among
the preachers at the opening celebrations were a former and a future president
of Conference, while the stone laying was performed by a former vice-president. Ketton thought big in those days!
completion, and with “extras”, including gas lighting (the latest thing in
1864) there was a debt of around £67, covered by an interest-free loan “until
the chapel can repay.” The next we hear
of this is thirteen years later when Charles Chapman reminded the trustees that
this money was still owed to him. From
then on he received a few pounds “surplus income” each year until the debt was
finally cleared in 1886, twenty-one years after the opening.
connexional committee does not seem to have been too upset by Ketton’s
overspend since it’s report for 1865 carried an
illustration of the new building::-
years that follow we have only tantalising glimpses of church life:
major celebrations of the centenaries of Methodism in the village and of the building;-the gas
lighting,, so modern when installed, was replaced by oil lamps in 1916 when the
village gasworks closed, never to reopen.
These in turn were replaced by electricity;the Sunday
School was re-opened in 1908, and there must have been many other changes in
almost a century - through two world wars, the depression of the ‘30s, changing
fashions, a never-ending succession of ministers, the worship and witness
continued without a break.
Methodist union, new
hymnbooks and successive generations -
people continued faithful to their calling.
was designed for preaching and worship, a simple rectangular space, and is
excellent for its purpose, both for preacher and congregation. But having just the one room - no vestry,
kitchen or toilet - could not always have been easy (Water for the essential
Methodist tea came from the nearby stream!),
In the 1950s the fellowship became increasingly conscious of the
limitations this placed on its life and work, and so in 1955 the Sunday
Schoolroom Building Fund was launched.
on the Fellowship worked to raise funds.
There were socials, concerts, garden parties. People (not all of them
members of the congregation) had collecting boxes, saved halfpennies, made
weekly contributions, sold garden produce.
They also gave their time and skills.
Two members prepared the foundations and floor slab ready for the
builders, whilst a team demolished the stables at the old Midland Hotel,
reclaimed the stone and transported it to the site.
opening took place on 22 October 1960, and in addition to the Hall gave the
Fellowship a vestry, kitchen and store plus a small toilet.
and the Sunday School, the latter really flourishing in the ‘70s and ‘80s, were
well served by the new building, but by 1990 there was a feeling that the
facilities should be updated. The result was a major refurbishment scheme,
completed in 1994 and including a new vestry and toilets, one with proper
disabled facilities. Since then the Hall
has continued to serve not only the Church but also the wider local community
since the Fellowship has always seen it as part of its service to the
village. The WI, which was the first
external group to use the hall in 1960, still meets there, as does the mother
and toddler club and a variety of other groups.
interior of the chapel remained largely unaltered since it was built although,
by the early years of the new millennium, there was a growing sense that
perhaps the time had come to remodel it to better serve the present age. This became a pressing matter when, in 2011
during the installation of a new heating system, extensive dry rot and woodworm
infestation were discovered under the floor.
The decision has been made to renew the floor, which will necessitate
removing the old pews and pulpit. The
Fellowship is currently busily discussing what should replace them and how the
refurbished building should look, and raising funds to finance the work.
seek to ensure the buildings are fit for purpose we recognise that they
are not an end in themselves; that the
Church is the people. And the real
history of Ketton Methodism is a story of
vision, commitment and above all faithfulness, and of the many unknown
people who have sought to serve the Lord in their generation. The congregation changes. Fifty years ago it was largely drawn from the
farming community, today it is more diverse, whilst the Sunday School, so
strong during the 1970s and ‘80s, no longer exists and most of the young people
have moved away from Ketton. But new
people have joined us, and the fellowship continues to be happy to welcome
strangers. The Church is renewed, and
after 175 years still continues its work
and worship, seeking to serve its Lord and the local community.
is the people, not the buildings”
Entertaining visitors from
Harlesden Methodist Church.