I'm trying to establish the age of a stone font which was installed in a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, severely damaged in the blitz in 1942. The font was recovered almost intact from the ruins and subsequently transferred to a new Methodist Church in the area (now undergoing major refurbishment).
The original church was built in 1790 and opened by John Wesley and subsequently rebuilt in 1847.
I am told that the font could not be from the original Methodist church (1790) as it was not Methodist practice at that time to baptise.
My reason for trying to establish age etc is to ensure that this artefact, whilst no longer to be used as a font, still retains a place in the refurbished church and continue the links with the past. I should add there are one or two who would like to discard the font to the builder's skip rather than worry about the past history.
Could anyone give a view on this, and verify whether my informant is correct?
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Thread: Wesleyan Baptisms
06-09-2011 1:18 PM #1
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06-09-2011 3:45 PM #2
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06-09-2011 4:50 PM #3
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You'd need to find a history of Methodism to work out when they started to administer baptism - according to the Wikipedia article on the Methodist Church of Great Britain it wouldn't have been before 1795.
As for the chapel you're interested in, are there any records which survived the blitz, possibly now in a county record office, which give details of changes to the building and its furnishings? If it was a particularly fine building there might be something in the Victoria County History (online) or some architectural guide. Pevsner's guide, being post-war, presumably wouldn't include the original chapel, but if he mentioned the newer one he might have said something about the font and its origins. Alternatively, are there any local history societies which might have information, or could you find any old photos which would prove the font went back at least to a certain date?
I appreciate the situation might be too sensitive for you to give the name of the chapel, but if you felt able to, I'm sure some of the sleuths on here would be willing to have a go at digging for information.
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