Religion in Hoole & Newton

From medieval times parts of both Hoole and Newton were in the ecclesiastical parish of St. Peter’s, Plemonstall, and Plemstall Church contains memorials to many notable local families e.g. the Hurlestons and the Brittains, and the Victorian grave of Martha Hamilton is prominent in the churchyard. The records from there of Births, Marriages and Deaths illustrate its use by the residents of Hoole and Newton, and its location is a reflection of the days when both of these areas were linked with Wimbolds and Mickle Trafford, and Dunham on the Hill. Further information on Plemstall can be found here.

St Peters Church Plemstall

Nearer the City, Hoole was eventually located in the Parish of St. John, and Newton in the Parish of St. Oswald, which was the Cathedral Church, and the registers of ceremonies carried out at each by local residents show their allegiance to them. Arguably the Cathedral was the pinnacle of recognition, with family vaults, the endowment of a chapel (Martha Hamilton), and the installation of plaques and memorials (Hayes family at Hoole Bank House in recognition of their son killed in World War I; Edward Evans-Lloyd of Plas Newton). The first service of the Flookersbrook, Newton & Hoole Female Friendly Society was held in the Cathedral in 1818.

At the beginning of its urban development arguably more appears to have been done to promote religious values and worship in Hoole by Miss Jane Carver at her School in Faulkner Street (1857 onwards) than by the established Church. Her classes, eventually for adults as well as children, were clearly the basis for persuading the Marquis of Westminster to build his Schools in Peploe Street where, in addition to the usual school syllabus, non-denominational religious education was taught by some 21 volunteers.

Miss Carver’s school listed with the ‘Establishment’ schools of Chester 1858

In the meantime, Christchurch in Newtown was given responsibility for the area’s Church of England pastoral care. In 1852 it opened a subscription list to build the National School cum Mission House in Peploe Street which opened in 1855. Further information on Christchurch National School cum Mission room in Peploe Street can be found here. Its Minister, Rev. R.D. Thomas played an important role in the social development of Victorian Hoole. He was involved in the planning and construction of the Lecture Hall and Reading Room and All Saints Church which was built as a chapel of Christchurch in 1867 and became the district church for Hoole and Newton in 1872. Further information on All Saints Church can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

All Saints Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the remainder of the 19th century, the Church established itself into the expanding community of Hoole and the way it dealt with the controversial issues of the time make interesting reading. One of its main concerns was that Westminster Road Schools were non-denominational and the Rev. Frederick Anderson, who was responsible for All Saints for its first 49 years, sought to remedy the situation.

 

 

 

Eventually in 1893 the then Duke of Westminster agreed that the Schools’ Management Committee should be drawn from members of the Church of England and it became a National School. At the same time, the Duke agreed to finance the extension which opened in April 1895. Further information on Westminster Road Schools can be found here.

The non-conformists who had managed the Schools for 30 years built the Tin Chapel in Walker Street and worshipped there. It became the Congregational Church.

Non-Conformism

In the second half of the 19th century non conformism locally was, not unsurprisingly, linked to what was happening in Chester, and from the 1880’s lists of service venues similar to the one reproduced from 1891 appeared weekly.

 

 

 

List of Non-Conformist Services 1891

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congregational

The last name on the List was the non-sectarian service run at the Westminster Schools.  When the Church of England took over control of the Schools, the non-sectarian body became the Congregational Church erecting the Tin Chapel in Walker Street in 1894. This was later renamed the ‘United Reform Church’ and moved to new premises on Hoole Road in 1958. Further information on Hoole Congregational and United Reform Church can be found here.

 

 

The Tin Chapel in Walker Street

 

 

 

 

 

Baptist

Ebenezer Baptist Church in Milton Street originally rented the Lecture Hall in Peploe Street for services from 1883. When the Lecture Hall was put up for sale in 1911, the Baptist Church purchased the property as a branch of Grosvenor Park Road Baptist Church and in 1952 it became a separate independent church. Further information on Hoole Baptist Church can be found here.

Methodist

Methodism came to the area in June 1866 when the National Primitive Methodist Conference held its “Camp Meeting” in the Folly Field – an annual event repeated over the next 10 years. Newspaper reports suggest that thousands of people attended these rallies where 3 or 4 carts were put in various parts of the Field to act as pulpits. It was however the Wesleyan Methodists who by 1876 had set up a Society in Bishopsfield. In August 1888 they rented a shop for religious worship which proved too small and a chapel of wood and iron was erected in School Street. This closed in 1893 because the Primitive Methodists were about to erect a more substantial chapel in Hamilton Street. The latter chapel became the school room of the Methodist Church we know today which was eventually opened in 1928.

 

Methodist Church, Hamilton Street

In Pipers Ash, then in Hoole, a Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1891 as a part of the George Street Methodist circuit. It was replaced by a new building in 1914 and a non-denominational movement which had met behind James H. Bentley’s farmhouse on Hoole Road, transferred their allegiance there. It closed in 1993. Further information on Pipers Ash Primitive Methodist Church can be found here.

 

 

Pipers Ash Primitive Methodist Church after closure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worship in Welsh

The influx of residents from across the border resulted in a Welsh Wesleyan Methodist Chapel being built on the west side of Peploe Street, and a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist (Presbyterian) Sunday School being held in rooms above what is now Boots the Chemist in Faulkner Street. Further information on Worship in Welsh in Hoole can be found here.

St. Paul’s, Boughton, Mission Chapel

At the other end of Hoole Lane a Mission Chapel of St. Paul’s Church, Boughton was built in the 1880’s by the canal lock to the design of John Douglas. It was in use until 1933 and after it closed it was used as a bakery by T. Price & Sons from Duddon, who had a shop opposite. It was more recently developed as accommodation with the name ‘Mission Mews’. Further information on Hoole Lane Mission Chapel can be found here.

 

Hoole Lane Mission Church

The New Church

In 1928 the New Church which encompassed the Swedenborgian religion was built on the corner of Brook Lane and Dicksons Drive. This faith was based on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg in the 1750’s that each person must actively co-operate in repentance, reformation and regeneration of one’s life. God had explained the spiritual meaning of the scriptures to Swedenborg to reveal ‘the truth’ about the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Church on Brook Lane was very active particularly in the 1950’s and 60’s. It closed in 2017.

 

The New Church, Brook Lane

Post World War II

The Congregational Church at the Tin Chapel became the United Reform Church and moved to their new premises in Hoole Road in 1958. By then, the housing development in Newton had led to a significant increase in the population; in 1957, Kingsway Chapel, an independent Evangelical Church was opened and in 1962, St. Michael’s Church (of England) was built in Plas Newton.

  

                                                Kingsway Chapel                                                            St. Michael’s Church, Plas Newton

Roman Catholicism

Since the emancipation of Roman Catholicism, Hoole and Newton worshippers have been in the Parish of St. Werburgh, their Church originally opening in Queen Street, Chester in 1799, before moving to a new building in Grosvenor Park Road in 1876. In 1964, St. Columba’s Church was built in Plas Newton. St. Werburgh’s and St. Columba’s Catholic Primary School is located in Lightfoot Street.

 

 

 

St. Columba’s Church, Plas Newton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. James’s Chapel

When the Workhouse was opened on Hoole Lane in 1878, St. James’s Chapel was built in its grounds; its first Minister was the Vicar of All Saints Church, Rev. Frederick Anderson. It contained the only graveyard in Hoole, used for the unfortunate occupants of the premises. Between 1880 and 1900 the deaths of 1,350 people were recorded in the Burial Register and by 1900 not surprisingly, the burial ground was full. When the Workhouse became the Chester War Hospital in 1917, services were held for both patients and staff in St. James’s Chapel. The building still stands today. Overleigh Cemetery has been the final resting place for most of our citizens since it opened in 1850.

 

St. James’s Chapel, Hoole Lane

It would be easy to forget how important the early Sunday schools, the young people’s organisations, the fellowships and clubs, and most of all, the Christian beliefs of these religions were, and still are, in the life of Hoole and Newton’s communities.

The Society would be glad to see and copy any records, memorabilia or photographs relating to any of these Churches or Chapels.

[Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, July 2019, Hoole History & Heritage Society]