Protestant Nonconformity in Wymeswold

Wymeswold is a village in Leicestershire, located five miles north east of Loughborough.  Nonconformity was strong, and by the mid-nineteenth century, an entry for the village in a directory of Leicestershire was able to state that ‘a large proportion of the population is nonconformist’.[1]

Early Baptist meeting houses are mentioned below. Other meeting houses were licensed for worship in 1771 in Joseph Wood’s house (although this may be a double registration of the Baptist meeting place),  1790 (belonging to Thomas Fox) and two more in 1801, one of which was ‘nerwly erected’. One of these buildings may have been the Quaker meeting house and buruial ground which can still be seen in the village.[2]

General Baptists

Two meeting houses in the village were licensed in 1771 and 1773 in the homes of dissenters for the use of General Baptists.[3] A Baptist chapel, erected in 1780/1, presumably the ‘newly erected building’ licensed for worship in 1781, was ‘greatly enlarged’ in 1847, after which it contained room for 300 free sittings.[4] It remained in use throughout the nineteenth century. A return of meeting houses, taken in 1829, recorded 100 Baptists in the village.[5] On the day of the 1851 religious census, a congregation of 200 worshippers was recorded at the afternoon service and 145 in the evening. Attendance at Sunday School was 80.[6] Directories for the village later in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries maintain the continued presence of Baptists in the village.

 

Wesleyan Methodists

There is no record of Methodists in the village until the early nineteenth century, although from then their presence was significant. The return of religious houses in 1829 noted 100 Wesleyan Methodists.[7] A chapel was built in 1845, at a cost of £500; it could accommodate 200 free sittings.[8] The 1851 religious census recorded 125 worshippers present at a morning service, and another 130 in the evening. 90 children were present at the Sunday School.[9]

 

Primitive Methodists

Primitive Methodists are counted at 60 on the 1829 return of religious houses.[10] A chapel was built in 1830, with 300 sittings.[11] The 1851 religious census recorded a congregation of 40 at an afternoon service and 20 at an evening service.[12] Along with Wesleyan Methodists, the continued presence of Primitive Methodists is noted by directories for Leicestershire later in the century.



[1] Kelly’s Dir. (1881) p. 733.

[2] Leicestershire and Rutland County Record Office (ROLLR), QS 44/1/2, QS 44/2/146.

[3] ROLLR, QS 44/2/79 and 44/2/83

[4] White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1863) p. 638; 1851 Religious Census, entry for Wymeswold, General Baptists, TNA, HO 129/415/67; ROLLR, QS 44/1/2

[5] 1829 Return of Religious Houses, entry for Wymeswold, ROLLR, QS 95/2/1/62.

[6] 1851 Religious Census, HO 129/415/67.

[7] 1829 Return of Religious Houses, QS 95/2/1/62.

[8] White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1846) p. 465.

[9] 1851 Religious Census, entry for Wymeswold, Wesleyan Methodists, TNA, HO 129/415/69.

[10] 1829 Return of Religious Houses, ROLLR, QS 95/2/1/62.

[11] White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1863) p. 638; 1851 Religious Census, TNA, HO 129/415/69.

[12] 1851 Religious Census, TNA, HO 129/415/69.