Methodist Chapel - Brook

 

The Bible Christians commenced preaching at Brook in 1835. Services were held fortnightly on Sunday evenings in barns and members’ houses.

There were clearly concerns about morals in Brook and the following account was used to prove how necessary the preaching of the gospel was at this time. A Brook minister was said to be: ... very anxious to keep the young men out of mischief after church service and, in order to accomplish this, he would get them together at all kinds of sport – trap, bat, cock-fighting etc. – and so enamoured was he with this kind of sport, that on one occasion, becoming a little drowsy in church, he so far forgot himself as to be thinking more about cocks than aught else, he cried out, ‘Half-a-crown for the white one’!  A History of the Bible Christian Churches on the Isle of Wight, Rev J Woolcock 1897.

During the pastorate of Rev. James Way, we hear that services were held in the house of Farmer Hart. The first enrolled member was George Hendy and the first class leader was George Whitmore. Despite opposition to their meetings from those who looked down on non-conformists, Farmer Hart gave the Bible Christians a plot of land 23 by 31 feet which formed part of a field called Sheepwash in the Parish of Brook.

The chapel was built in 1848. When the foundation stone was laid, we hear that people came from all over the Island and about two hundred people took tea in the Old Malt House (unknown today). Many farmers, even though not connected with ‘the little cause’, helped with building materials and by the time the Chapel was opened only about £40 was owing. This debt was soon ‘discharged by the generosity of friends of the Chapel.’ 

In 1870 the Yarmouth Circuit was formed, which included Brook. The circuit held quarterly meetings with each chapel taking turns to host the occasion. Any alteration in Bible Christian members was recorded under one of the following headings: New members, Removals, Deaths, Emigration, Backsliders, Backsliders through drink.

In the 1890s we hear that the minister was Josiah Datsun, who, in 1898 gave a talk on ‘Radical Diseases Require Radical Remedies’ and ‘Big Doors Turn on Small Hinges.’ Miss H. Newbery presided at the harmonium.  

In Forever England (1932), Jack Seely looks back a hundred years to 1832: The life of a ‘Chapel man’ was incredibly hard in those days; he was regarded by most of his neighbours as a pariah... He describes with admiration a man who was: born in an inland village where the clergyman was a drunkard and a wastrel, and who, with his friends had ‘out of their meagre earnings, raised enough money to build a small chapel, where, as they phrased it, ‘the simple words of Christ should be read each Sunday’. He had then lost his job as a weaver and had had to move away, but every Sunday morning, winter or summer, rain or shine, he walked to and from his chapel 16 miles away. At the end of this story, Jack Seely shows his disgust at the bitter differences  between Church and Chapel at the time (1830s): though his conduct compelled admiration, he was never quite forgiven for being a ‘Chapel man.’  

In 1907 the Bible Christians joined with the United Methodists and in 1932 they were known simply as Methodists. David Hollis remembers in the 1930s: the Chapel was in full sway then. The Seelys gave a piece of land for the preacher to park his horse by the Chapel. There was Lance Barnes    (2 Old Myrtle Cottage), he was one of the mainstays. I remember going with father to a Harvest Festival service. It was chockablock with people, they raised the roof when they sung. 

As described in the WI Scrapbook (1958): The interior of the Chapel is fitted with part pews and open seats to seat about one hundred persons. In 1959 the Rt Hon Hugh Seely, Baron Sherwood of Calverton, gifted a parcel of land on the north-east side of the Methodist Chapel for the preacher’s car. Maps show that a lodge for the back drive to Brooke House had previously stood there.

The last service was held in 1998 and the Chapel was sold. Sadly in 2001 the Chapel was demolished, to no-one’s advantage, as part of a planning application.

Brook Methodist Chapel to Close - IOW County Press, 5 April 1998

It has been reported that Brook Methodist Chapel is to close, the last service will be on Sunday at 3pm conducted by Mr Keith Winn, Superintendent Minister of the West Wight Circuit. The chapel has been standing for 150 years but the maintenance of the building has become too much of a burden for the small congregation. Mrs Doris Barton has been worshipping in the chapel since her childhood and has recently carried most of the responsibility for keeping it going. Another member is Mrs Rosa Rushin, whose late husband did much dedicated work to maintain the interior of the building.