There is some doubt as to exactly where Methodist witness in this part of the circuit started, because the earliest record we have (1819) lists two preaching places ‘Risegate and Gosberton’- ‘Gosberton & Quadring Eeudyke’. The first certain date for a building is 1834, situated in the High Street, which the remained in use for Sunday School work, even after the ‘new’ chapel was built in 1870 until 1937, it was then sold to the Windsor Brothers, and used as an ironmongers shop until 2002, and has since been converted into housing, but in such a way that the road frontage clearly shows how it must have looked for 50 years.
Below the 1878 Chapel – the painting shows the earlier wall and one of the heating chimneys
The By 1870 Gosberton one of the more flourishing societies in the Spalding Wesleyan Circuit having built up its membership and activities again after through the efforts of Mr Charles Boyar, MA. (Headmaster of the Gosberton Hall College), the present Salem Street Chapel was built. It served as the Chapel for his school, and the associated girls school, and for another private Girls School until they closed. (One doubts however, if those themselves in the building in the same way as to-days youngsters.) This new chapel was a good quality example of large village Wesleyan Victorian building, airy and spacious, but it did have one youngsters were ever allowed to enjoy feature, which was, to my knowledge, unique.
There were two usual methods of heating churches & chapels in the 19th century. Larger ones such as Broad St, & St Thomas Road, had a boiler house, more often than not under the floor of one of the vestries, in such rooms there would be a boiler which fed the radiators (often helped by large diameter iron pipes under the pews) in the church. It was a system which worked well, provided inexpensive fuel was available – because the boiler needed to lit 36-48 hours before the Sunday. Away from the coal mining areas these boilers used coke (which was the residue of the coal from which the coal gas had been cooked of), effectively it was a was waste by product, and was in consequence very inexpensive. In fact in many areas given away free to churches, if they could transport it themselves. The alternative the cast iron pot bellied stove, a few of the vast ones still in use, in some cathedrals (now using gas ) or the small ones about 2 ft in diameter which although out of use for a long time can still be seen in a few chapels. These also were fed by coke, and worked quite well as long as there was sufficient draft to keep it burning red hot, (& there rarely was on foggy November evenings! ) if not there were terrible fumes;- NO health and safety then’, to say nothing of the dangers of a very hot stove one of the back pews at Moulton Chapel still has the scorch marks!
One assumes that Mr Boyer, a classical scholar, must have known that the Romans had heated their buildings, by hypocausts, because in effect at Gosberton their idea was copied, although rather less safely since they had used stone slabs for flooring whilst the chapel had floorboards.
There was a large brick built enclosed fire area, under the church floor, which must have had some metal lining to keep the fumes in, and had two flues which took convoluted routes to the two chimneys, on the external walls, one of which can be seen in the picture above. The stoke hole, was entered via a hatch in northern aisle. This idea would not have worked in a normal church used one day a week, but quite probably as it was being used daily for school prayers the fire would have been continually burning, so maybe it was a good scheme.
In 1937, following the sale of the old chapel, the Salem Street building was partitioned off to form a school room, part of which was used as a kitchen. In many was this was an unfortunate adaptation in that entry to the, sanctuary’ was via this area.
(For the record in 1938 the membership was 37 and they paid 11s over and above their requested circuit assessment of £31: 6s )
There was, of course, another Methodist society In the village until 1956, which had its origins in the mid 19th century disputes, being one of the ‘new’ Reformers Free Methodist Chapels built in the 1850s (1854 in Church Street ) and was replaced in 1907, with one in the High Street, which although the Co-op have owned it for many years the original shape of the building can be clearly seen from the northern side. From 1907 until the Methodist Union of 1932 it had worked as part of the United Methodist Church:- no significant records have 4 survived, so it is reasonable to assume that for 100 years they had a normal quiet existence.
However in 1938 they had 37 members, and managed to pay the full amount of the assessment E36 : Os The two societies were united after the last service on Jan 1st 1956, and after a few years continued use to house the large Sunday school the building was sold.
Note: It also houses the large pipe organ which was originally installed in the large Crescent Chapel in Spalding.