Protestant Nonconformity in Ibstock, 1829-1916

Ibstock is a village in north-west Leicestershire, in the coal-field area. There is little record of non-conformity until the early nineteenth century, with the first recorded meeting place being a General Baptist chapel, built in 1814.[1] It is likely that Methodists, who also had a significant presence in the village, arrived shortly afterwards.

General Baptists

The return of religious meeting houses in 1829 counted 150 Baptists in the village.[2] They are noted on the 1851 Religious Census as being Baptists of the New Connexion. The chapel contained room for 284 sittings, all except 20 of which were free, and on the 1851 religious census the congregation is recorded at 70 and 171 for services held in the afternoon and evening respectively. Attendance at Sunday School was recorded at 80, exclusively in the afternoon.[3]

The chapel was replaced around 1860, at a cost of £500.[4] A later directory noted another new chapel, built in 1878 with 600 sittings.[5] There is no mention of what happened to the chapel of 1860. Although the precise details on church infrastructure are not clear, directories for Leicestershire continue to note the significant presence of Baptists in the village.

Ibstock Methodist Church

Ibstock Methodist Church

Former nonconformist chapel at Ibstock

Former nonconformist chapel at Ibstock

Methodists

Methodism in the village included Wesleyan, Primitive and Reformed Wesleyan Methodists. The 1829 return of religious meeting houses recorded 100 Methodists, who were likely to have been Wesleyan Methodists. They had erected a purpose-built chapel in 1823, with room for 145 sittings, all except 30 of which were free sittings.[6] The 1851 Religious Census recorded a congregation of 90 and 120 at afternoon and evening services respectively. The corresponding figures for Sunday School attendance are 50 and 20.[7] The chapel was enlarged in 1840, at a cost of £140.[8]

The first mention of Primitive Methodists comes from a directory of 1846, which recorded the presence of a chapel that had been enlarged about five years earlier.[9] Curiously, Primitive Methodists are not enumerated in the 1851 Religious Census, even though their continued presence is noted in directories later in the century.

Information is yet even scarcer for Reformed Wesleyan Methodists, who are first recorded in an 1863 directory as having built a chapel in 1855 at a cost of £120.[10] An incomplete entry for a branch of Wesleyan Methodists recorded in the 1851 Religious Census may have been referring to them; if that is the case, they numbered at about 50 to 70 and met in what was recorded as a small place of worship.[11] However, there are no sources that confirm this, as directories later in the century only indicated that they were present.

A final point worth noting about non-conformity in Ibstock as a whole is that if the directories for the village are interpreted literally, then this could imply as many as four separate chapels existing at once – one for Baptists, and another for each of the three Methodist branches. Whether this was actually the case is not clear.



[1] White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1846) p. 564.

[2] 1829 Return of Religious Meeting Houses, entry for Ibstock, QS 95/2/1/166.

[3] 1851 Religious Census, entry for Ibstock, Baptists, HO 129/413/51.

[4] White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1863) p. 677. Note that the precise date is not given.

[5] Kelly’s Dir. (1908) p. 107.

[6] 1851 Religious Census, entry for Ibstock, Methodists, HO 129/413/52.

[7] Ibid.

[8] White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1863) p. 677.

[9] White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1846) p. 564

[10] White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1863) p. 677.

[11] 1851 Religious Census, entry for Ibstock, (unspecified) branch of Methodists, HO 129/413/53.