Protestant Nonconformity in South Kilworth

South Kilworth is a village in south Leicestershire, between Lutterworth and Market Harborough.

No illegal religious meetings were recorded here in 1669,[1] and no nonconformists in 1676.[2]

Two families of dissenters were noted in 1706, who ‘follow the Teachers of Lutterworth & Welford’.[3] Lutterworth had an Independent meeting by this date; Welford is just in Northamptonshire, right on the county boundary, and as yet we have no information about nonconformity there.

John Wales’s house was registered for Protestant worship in 1794 and again in 1795. John Stafford’s house was registered in 1808.[4] There is no indication of the denominations concerned, but later sources record only Independents in the village.

Independents

The first source to record Independents specifically is the 1829 Return of Religious Meeting Places, which counted them at 80.[5] Their chapel had been built in 1823 or 1824, according to two different sources – namely the 1851 Religious Census and White’s Directory of 1846 respectively.[6] The 1851 census records the chapel, known as the Union Chapel, as having 100 sittings, 60 of them free, as well as 56 standing spaces. On census day, an evening service was attended by 96 worshippers. The average figure of attendance was recorded as ‘about 120’. There is no evidence of a Sunday School.[7]

There is no new information of Independents after 1851.

The chapel building remains today (2015), now converted into a private dwelling.

[1] R.H. Evans, ‘Nonconformists in Leicestershire in 1669’, Trans LAHS, 25 (1949), p. 135

[2] A. Whiteman, The Compton Census of 1676: A Critical Edition (London, 1986), p. 336

[3] J. Broad (ed.), Bishop Wake’s summary of visitation returns from the diocese of Lincoln, 1706-1715. Part 2, Outside Lincolnshire (Huntingdonshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Leicestershire, Buckinghamshire) (Oxford, 2012), p. 854

[4] Leicestershire and Rutland County Record Office (ROLLR), List of Religious Meeting Places in Leicestershire, entries for South Kilworth, QS 44/1/2, QS 44/2/98 and QS 44/2/102.

[5] 1829 Return of Religious Meeting Places, South Kilworth, Independents, QS 95/2/1/17.

[6] 1851 Census of England and Wales, entry for Independents, South Kilworth, HO 129/408/36; White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1846) p. 395.

[7] 1851 Religious Census, HO 129/408/36.