A History of other local Anglican and Non Conformist Churches

CURRENT CHURCH

Bere Alston United Church. The United Church was formed when the United Reformed and Mount Zion Methodist churches in Bere Alston joined together in 1989. The building was dedicated in 1811 by the Independents (also known as Congregationalists) and originally had a pull-in for horse and cart in front of it. The original building was enlarged in the 1800s, when there was an influx of farmers into the congregation following a disagreement between the Rector and themselves! It was further enlarged in 1871, when the schoolroom was added. During renovation work in 1995 a vault containing the lead coffins of the main benefactress of the original church (Mary Stephens) and her sister-in law Jane was discovered. In 1998 the church purchased the adjacent cottage to provide additional space for activities. For more historic detail, including newspaper reports from the 1800s, CLICK HERE.

FORMER MINISTERS                   RENOVATION PHOTOS             MEMBERS FROM 1815-1911



A Victorian view of Fore Street, Bere Alston. The United Free Methodist Chapel, whose main building was inset from the road, is hidden on the left, where the shops end. The building whose wall justs out into the street on the right at the end of the row of buildings, after the sticking-out former pub sign is the then Congregational Church (now the United Church). The building extends away from us. The Victoria Inn on the right of the picture is also no longer a public house and was until October 2000 the local bakery. The building on the far right is now the local pharmacy. The one remaining public house (The Edgcumbe) is on the left, just out of the picture at the front. Towards the back of the picture on the left you can see the front part of Holy Trinity churchyard, with its high wall and gravestones.


FORMER CHURCHES/CHAPELS

Ley Chapel, Bere Ferrers. Henry Ley, who lived at Ley Farm during the reign of Kings Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII, built Ley Chapel at 'Baselake', near where Parsonage Farm is now, where there was a little stream that descended from the spring at Ley. It was called 'Our Ladies of Baselake' and was built around 1461. (Further details welcomed! Email me: Ann Parsons)

Weir Quay Anglican Mission. This was in a house in Gulleytown and baptisms (which took place in an upper room) were recorded there from 1862 to 1907.

Cornwall Street Mission, Bere Alston. In the late 1700s / early 1800s this was at No. 26, opposite the Cornish Arms. Rev Beddow claimed that it was the forerunner to the chapel in Chapel Street, but documents linked to the Congregational chapel also refer to a meeting house in Cornwall Street (then known as Pepper Street).

Mount Zion Chapel, Bere Alston. Originally a Wesleyan Chapel, this was built in Bedford Street in 1841. A schoolroom was added in 1877. It continued until 1985, when the Methodists moved to share the United Reformed Church building, officially forming the United Church in 1989. It is now a private residence. Much more can be found if you click here.

Cotts Wesleyan Chapel. This was granted a licence in 1850 and closed around 1965. It is now a private house. More can be found here.

Ebenezer Bible Christian Chapel, Station Road, Bere Alston. The chapel was opened in 1850. It is interesting to note that two of the opening services (which were spread over two days) took place in the Independent (Congregational) building! It was on a site near the present fire station. On the site now are the bungalows of Drakes Park, the chapel having closed in 1953 and been demolished. (The council bought the site and chapel for the whole of £100!) The congregation joined with that of Mount Zion Methodist Chapel on closure. More details can be found if you click here.

Bere Ferrers Bible Christian Chapel. The Bible Christians met in the kitchen of the Barton for many years, there being 23 meeting there in 1851. Growing numbers (90 in 1856) resulted in the chapel being opened in 1868 with seating accomodation for 220. In 1877 a Church of England School started in  the schoolroom, moving to the present Church Hall in 1896. The chapel, which subsequently became a Methodist one upon union, closed in 1992 and has been rather spectacularly converted to a private residence. For more history, click here.

Chapel Street Chapel, Bere Alston. (Prior to the building of the chapel, this street was know as The Drain!) This was built in 1854. It most probably was Wesleyan Methodist Association, although Wesleyan Reform is mentioned in a couple of documents. Whichever it was originally, these two denominations joined in 1857 to form the United Free Methodist Church. The chapel closed when the members moved to the new Fore Street building and is now two cottages. For details of two indentures click here.

United Free Methodist Chapel, Fore Street, Bere Alston. Erected in 1876 by the Chapel Street Methodists, this had closed by 1924, the members joining with the Station Road Ebenezer chapel. The Jehovah's Witnesses used the building from the late 1950s or early 60s, eventually purchasing the building, and were there until the early 80s. During its life the building was also a saddlers, ex-servicemen's club and picture house. Flats now occupy the site, the foundation stone from the chapel being used in the construction. It is recorded that villagers cleaned the stone for this purpose after West Devon Borough Council allegedly said that it could not afford to pay for it!


Inside of the United Free Methodist Chapel at harvest


Click here for a brief history of the formation of the denominations nation-wide, and the licences and chapels in Bere Alston.

Ann Parsons