Protestant nonconformity


Victoria County History



G C Baugh, C R Elrington (Editors), A P Baggs, D C Cox, Jessie McFall, P A Stamper, A J L Winchester

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'Lilleshall: Protestant nonconformity', A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11: Telford (1985), pp. 173-174. URL: Date accessed: 27 November 2014.


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Dissent accompanied the development of the parish's industries. No dissenters were recorded in 1676 (fn. 76) but in 1693 Thomas Allcock's house at Pain's Lane was licensed for meetings. (fn. 77) There was said to be no dissent in 1772. (fn. 78) In 1799 the vicar claimed that there were very few nonconformists but noted that they had increased with the population, (fn. 79) and his encouragement of St. George's chapel at Pain's Lane suggests that he recognized an incipient challenge from dissent.

The Particular Baptists seem to have made the first notable gains. (fn. 80) At Donnington William Snow's house was licensed in 1811 and that of Richard Pickering, engineer, in 1813. The house of John Barnett, labourer, at Donnington Wood was licensed in 1814. (fn. 81) In 1820 a chapel was built in what was later Queen's Road, Donnington Wood; (fn. 82) there were 43 members in 1824. (fn. 83) In 1851 the chapel had 204 seats (100 free) and standing room for 55. On Census Sunday 1851 fifty people attended in the morning, a hundred in the afternoon, and two hundred in the evening. (fn. 84) In 1968 a new chapel opened in Queen's Road, a little west of the old one, which was then sold. (fn. 85)

For the Wesleyan Methodists there was fortnightly preaching at the 'Newport and Lilleshall' station in 1813. (fn. 86) A house in Lilleshall was licensed in 1815 (fn. 87) as was a schoolroom there in 1816. (fn. 88) Some Methodists, probably Wesleyans, were attending Lilleshall church in 1824, (fn. 89) when there was also weekly preaching at the 'Aston and Lilleshall' station. (fn. 90) A Lilleshall society was recorded 1840-61 (fn. 91) and about a dozen Wesleyans met in the later 19th century (fn. 92) in the quarry west of Limekiln Lane. (fn. 93) There was fortnightly preaching at Waxhill Barracks in 1813 (fn. 94) and a society was also meeting at Donnington 1816- 36. (fn. 95) There was weekly preaching at the 'Rookery and Redhill' station in 1824. (fn. 96)

In 1821 Primitive Methodism took hold in east Shropshire, (fn. 97) and for twenty years it divided the territory with the New Connexion; the Primitives kept north of Watling Street, the New Connexion south. (fn. 98) Primitive Methodist meetings at two houses in Donnington Wood were registered in 1821 and 1822. (fn. 99) A camp meeting, attended by some 4,000, was held in 1839 near the Donnington Wood furnaces and began a local revival. (fn. 1) In 1851 there were at least three congregations, all in private houses. One at Waxhill Barracks had 25 attenders on Census Sunday evening. (fn. 2) The same evening others at Muxton and in Lilleshall village each had 20 attenders. (fn. 3) A brick chapel opened in Wellington Road, Donnington, in 1866. (fn. 4) It had 200 seats in 1940, (fn. 5) but by 1962 only thirty adult worshippers. (fn. 6) In 1967, when the Wrekin Drive church opened, (fn. 7) the old building closed for Methodist worship (fn. 8) and was sold to the Serbian Orthodox church. (fn. 9)

The New Connexion opened a brick chapel at Donnington Barracks (later School Road) in 1846. (fn. 10) It had 140 seats in 1940, (fn. 11) but by 1967, when the chapel closed, (fn. 12) only 17 members. (fn. 13) The congregation moved to the Wrekin Drive church and the old building was demolished. (fn. 14)

The United Methodist Free Churches had a chapel at Waxhill Barracks from 1862 to c. 1890 and a 'sanctuary' at Donnington Barracks that was registered for a few months in 1866. (fn. 15)

A new Methodist hall opened in Wrekin Drive, Donnington, in 1948 (fn. 16) to replace St. John's chapel, Trench. (fn. 17) In 1967 the congregation, joined by the Wellington Road and School Road congregations, moved into a new church next to the hall. (fn. 18)

In 1906 an Independent church, its members having seceded in 1905 from the Primitive Methodist congregation at Wrockwardine Wood, (fn. 19) registered the disused isolation hospital at Donnington Wood as a Central Hall; they remained there in 1980 as an Independent Evangelical church. (fn. 20)

A group of Quakers from Horsehay, Dawley, Edgmond, and Lilleshall began meeting monthly at a house in Lilleshall in the winter of 1964-5. The meeting later moved to Wellington. (fn. 21)


76 T.S.A.S. 2nd ser. i. 84.
77 P.R.O., RG 31/7, Salop. no. 35.
78 L.J.R.O., B/V/5, visit. return of 1772.
79 S.R.O. 3916/1/1, p. 69.
80 See V.C.H. Salop. ii. 11.
81 P.R.O., RG 31/7, Salop. nos. 283, 315, 331.
82 Kelly's Dir. Salop. (1905), 84.
83 Shropshire Circular Letter, 1824, 10 (copy in S.P.L., class C 98.6 v.f.).
84 P.R.O., HO 129/366, no. 19.
85 Frost, Story of Donnington, 31; G.R.O., Worship Reg. nos. 61335, 72079.
86 S.P.L., C 98.7 v.f., Shrews. circuit plan.
87 L.J.R.O., B/A/2(i)/F, p. 231. Cf. P.R.O., RG 31/2, Lich. no. 479; S.H.C. 4th ser. iii. 34.
88 L.J.R.O., B/A/2(i)/F, p. 364. Cf. P.R.O., RG 31/2, Lich. no. 541; Wesley Hist. Soc. Proc. xxiv. 108.
89 S.R.O. 3916/1/3, no. 20.
90 S.P.L., L 98.7 v.f., Wellington circuit plan.
91 S.R.O. 3767/XVII/A.
92 S.R.O. 3027/1/1-3.
93 Adams and Hazeley, Survey, 35.
94 S.P.L., C 98.7 v.f., Shrews. circuit plan.
95 Shrews. Sch. libr., Broseley circuit bk. 1815-41.
96 S.P.L., L 98.7 v.f., Wellington circuit plan.
97 V.C.H. Salop. ii. 14.
98 B. Trinder, Meth. New Connexion in Dawley and Madeley (Wesley Hist. Soc., W. Midlands Branch, Occ. Publ. i [1968]), 7.
99 P.R.O., RG 31/7, Salop. nos. 382, 391.
1 T.S.A.S. lviii. 178.
2 P.R.O., HO 129/366, no. 18.
3 Ibid. nos. 16-17.
4 Kelly's Dir. Salop. (1885), 872.
5 Meth. Church Bldgs.: Statistical Returns (1940), 268.
6 Shore, 'Survey of Donnington', p. 3.
7 Below.
8 G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 46107.
9 S.R.O. 3767/XXIII/C, K. H. Capsey to Revd. P. H. W. de Visme 19 Sept. 1967; - to K. H. Capsey 25 Sept. 1967.
10 Kelly's Dir. Salop. (1885), 843.
11 Meth. Church Bldgs.: Statistical Returns (1940), 268.
12 G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 61360.
13 S.R.O. 3767/XV/G, closure application 1 Aug. 1967.
14 Ibid. Wellington R.D.C. to Revd. P. H. W. de Visme 25 July 1967; Littlewood, Peace, & Lanyon to Revd. R. Hallam 12 Feb. 1969.
15 G.R.O., Worship Reg. nos. 15070 (cancelled 1896), 17254 (cancelled Dec. 1866); O.S. Map 6", Salop. XXXVI. NE. (1890 edn.).
16 G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 62658; S.R.O. 3767/XXIII/A, programme 30 Oct. 1948.
17 Below, Wrockwardine Wood, Prot. Nonconf.
18 G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 70873.
19 S.R.O. 1861/102-3; below, Wrockwardine Wood, Prot. Nonconf.
20 G.R.O., Worship Reg. no. 41639; Frost, Story of Donnington, 31; Telford Social Trends, i, ed. J. MacGuire (T.D.C. 1980), 218.
21 Inf. from Mr. A. E. Morris.