Ebenezer Bible Christian Chapel, Bere Alston
Ebenezer Chapel on the right
An account by R.Kent of the opening of the Ebenezer Bible Christian chapel, from the Bible Christian Magazine 1850
(Part of this also refers to the Bible Christians in Bere Ferrers)
This was an ancient Borough, sending two members to the House of Commons, previous to the passing of the Reform Bill. It contains a population of more than two thousand persons. There are several silver and lead mines in full work in this parish; which induced some of our members from Cornwall to remove here some years ago, and this led to our commencing preaching here about five years since. But as the place for preaching was obscure, but few people attended at first, and as most of our local preachers were living at a distance, when the weather was unfavourable the friends had to conduct their own services. Messrs.J.Williams and J.Trevethan, having taken the Beer Barton (Beer Ferrers. AP) and coming there to reside, although two miles from Beeralston, were able to render considerable assistance toward helping forward the cause of God there, as well as opening their own house for the preaching of the gospel. This operated as an impetus to our causes in both places. During the winter 1848-9 the Lord graciously poured out his Spirit, and a great many people were converted.
A larger room was now obtained (in Beeralstone. AP), but it was soon excessively crowded, and after the awful visitation of cholera during last July and August, when many turned to the Lord, the room was insufficient to accommodate the members of society; yet notwithstanding this inconcenience they held together.
A site for a chapel having been granted by the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, the building was commenced in November last, and was opened for Divine worship on Sunday May 26th, 1850, when sermons morning and evening were delivered by Mr.J.Thorne to crowded congregations, and in the afternoon by Mr. R Kent. The warm repsonses of the people whilst petitions were offered for God's blessing on the house showed the delight they experienced to worship in their new sanctuary.
On Monday the opening services were continued; the morning service was conducted by Mr. Thorne, and a delightful influence was realized. As the weather was unfavourable, the loan of the Independent chapel was kindly granted us for holding the afternoon and evening services, whilst the new chapel accommodated the friends to take tea. (An interesting arrangement. AP)
The afternoon sermon was preached by Mr. W.Bradney, Wesleyan Association Minister, Tavistock.
After about 350 persons had sat down to tea, the public meeting was held. Mr. J.Williams was in the chair, when addresses were delivered by Messrs. J.Thorne, R.Vaughan, J.Penny, J.Trevethan, R.Kent and -Willing, Independent minister. (Sad that they could not get his name right! AP)
The collection and surplus Receipts of the Tea amounted to £18, which added to £22 previously subscribed amounts to £40. The chapel is 34 feet long by 29 wide, 17 feet high. All the sittings were let (and more wanted) on teh Tuesday following the opening. It is expected that a gallery will be required immediately. "What has God wrought?"
Some notes from the Trust cash book 1902 - 53
From 1902 to 1921 there is an annual receipt of 2s or 3s from the Pentecostal League for oil.
1907 A new oil house was built.
1910 A new harmonium was purchased.
Anniversary services were held on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but none were held between 1926 and 36.
1922 Renovation work carried out.
1923 It was agreed to repair the roof.
The W.I. used the building for their meetings, as did the local band for their practices. Thee was also a dairy class that used it.
An interesting habit of the treasurer was to pay the fire insurance on the same day as purchasing a can of petrol!
Seat rents continued until the closure of the chapel.
1930 Electric lighting was installed in the chapel.
1933 The chapel was hit by lightning and repairs cost £15 7s 6d.
1936 Further renovations carried out, which necessitated the hiring of another hall for meetings. At this time is mention of a Mothers' Union.
1941 to June 1945 The building was used by refugees from Plymouth during the war.
12th October 1948 Declaration of adopting trusts of Methodist Model Deed.
1952 August Sale of furnishings form the chapel and Sunday School raised £29 12s 0d, which was paid to the Circuit for the repair of the roof account, which had £35 outstanding up until then.
1954 £5 received for timber form the building. £1 received from the Lydford Trust for the organ. The Deeds of the property were missing, but a copy in some old records was found relating to the Memorandum of Choice and Appointment dated 18th June 1925.
1953 Letter form Tavistock Rural District Council, stating that they had given their full consideration to the utilisation fo the site as part of their adjoining housing estate, and "since my last letter to Rev. A.G.Kick on 1st May last the appropriate committees of the council came to the conclusion that in view of the poor state of the building and the possible need for its demolition, its incorporation into the council's housing estate should be proceeded with. Accordingly, application was made to the appropriate Government Dept. for sanction for this course."
It went on to say that in view of the Circuit's willingness to accept £11 for the site, the council had decided to bear the legal costs of acquisition of both parties and to undertake and bear the cost of demolition of the structure and removal of the materials (except wooden pews and church furniture, which the chapel Trustees would be entitled to remove). The council had provisionally accepted a tender of a firm of demolition dontractors, who wished to commence operations in a week or ten days time.
(It had been reported that it had proved impossible to find anyone else interested in the property.)
A sad end to the chapel.