Nonconformity - Wesleyan Methodist & Baptists

From a postcard dated 1903 - Cosgrove Mission Hall

Victoria County History - A History of Northampton: Volume 5: The Hundred of Cleley - Philip Riden


In 1826 a house in Cosgrove in the occupation of John Sargeant was certified as a Dissenting meeting-house, as was one in the possession of the Revd. Thomas Searle in 1830. (fn. 19) In the 1870s and 1880s the Wesleyan Methodists had a meeting-house in Cosgrove, although this was never settled on trustees and had been given up by 1891. (fn. 20) In 1866 a building at Cosgrove Green belonging to Mrs. Mary Ann Baldwin was registered as a meeting-house for Protestant Dissenters. This registration was cancelled and replaced by another in 1906 for a purpose-built Baptist mission room whose own registration was cancelled in 1970. (fn. 21) The single-storey red brick building, also at the Green, was later converted to residential use.

NRO Index Meeting Houses by Kay Collins

Meeting Houses

After 1660, Protestant believers who formed congregations outside the Church of England were commonly referred to as Dissenters or Non-conformists. They could be Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians or Congregationalists. They and the Methodists who came later would gather in Meeting Houses. The Act of Toleration (1689) permitted freedom of worship to Dissenters, but required them to register their meeting houses with the local Quarter Sessions, the bishops or the archdeacons.

John Sargeant, occupier, Cosgrove, 1826
Thomas SEARLE, Rev. owner, Cosgrove, Vol. 7

The Mission Hall is marked on the map

In the 1669 return of Nonconformist Conventicles for the Archdeaconry of Northampton “The return for Cosgrove was explicit. ‘The Baptists meet not every Sunday here, because they go to other townes also.’” David L Wykes

In 1740 John Heywood was ordained pastor of the Independent Chapel at Potterspury. He rapidly extended his ministry to cover lectures and sermons at Towcester, Yardley Gobion, Cosgrove, Old Stratford, Deanshanger, Hanslope and Stony Stratford. He died in 1778.

NRO. X958

A messuage in occupation of John Sargeant certified as a meeting house 25 Nov. 1826

NRO, X958

A house in the possession of the Revd Thomas Searle certified as a meeting house 14 Jan. 1830.

GRO Worship Register 1886

A building belonging to Mrs. Ann Baldwin registered to the Protestant Dissenters on 26 January 1886 and cancelled on 28 March 1906.
Subsequently re-registered on 28 March 1906 by Alex McCrindle of London Road, Calverton End, Stony Stratford, Bucks. Assistant Engineer.
This building was known as the Mission Hall and used by the Baptists. The registration was cancelled on 29 December 1970.

We know from an article in 1934 that in 1887 a Wesleyan Chapel existed in a specially built room above Grimes's cottages, behind the Old School. Grimes was a farmer at Castlethorpe noted for cottage construction and Non-conformity. We believe that Mr Grimes acquired the land in an auction from Mr Foster in 1868. We know the cottage with the Meeting room above was rented for the Old School scholmaster in 1882. In 1891 census information we find that the Bianchi family, who helped to build the Mission Hall, lived at No 6 Grimes Cottages.

Mission Hall

Wolverton Express August 14th 1903

Nonconformity at Cosgrove


Five foundation stones of a new Mission Hall at Cosgrove were “well and truly laid” with due ceremony on Monday. The present Mission Hall, which was established by the Stony Stratford Baptist Church about 18 years ago, was in reality two upper rooms of two cottages, converted into a small hall, capable of accommodating fewer than 100 persons. The cause, fostered so assiduously by a few earnest and diligent workers from the Stony Stratford Church has grown steadily and for some time it has been abundantly evident that a new place of worship must be provided for the congregation. Though nurtured by a Baptist Church, the congregation is by no means exclusively Baptist; indeed, communicant members of the Church of England have been among the regular attendants.

A site was secured at the eastern extremity of the village, a plot of ground being purchased from Mr Fred Jelley for the very moderate price of £20. Plans for a Mission Hall, commodious and comfortable, but not elaborate, were drawn up by Mr J Chadwick, of Bletchley. The cost, it was estimated, would be about £350, and it was agreed that building operations should commence as soon as £200 was obtained or promised. Mr F W Woollard, CC, one of the stalwart Free Churchmen of North Bucks, came to the rescue, and headed the subscription list with a handsome donation of £100. A sub-committee, consisting of Mr J E Wilson, Mr Holdom, Mr Wootton, Mr C P Woollard (treasurer), and Mr F W Downing (secretary), was formed to raise the other £100. So energetically did they work, and so forcefully did the need of Cosgrove appeal to neighbouring Free Churchmen, that the £100 and a little more was raised within six weeks, and the new building was commenced.

Councillor A P Hawtin of Northampton was the contractor, and his tender was for £311, but the total cost will be about £400. The new Mission Hall, which will accommodate between 150 and 200 persons, will be built of red brick. It will have a lobby to shelter the entrance from the north and east winds, and it will include a small vestry. A considerable economy in the cost of the furniture will be effected through the effort of Mr Holdom and one or two other workers, who had undertaken voluntarily the task of constructing the seats. Mr J E Wilson, a member of the committee, is rendering invaluable help by acting as honorary clerk of the works, a position for which his practical experience well fits him.

Previous to Monday’s ceremony the amount actually in hand or promised was £218 13s 9d, made up as follows;

Donation by Mr F W Woollard CC, £100; friends at Cosgrove, £25 1s 2d; Sunday School at Cosgrove, £11 5s 5d; other sources (principally subscriptions), £78 17s 1d; Loughton Chapel Congregation, the surplus of Organ Fund, £1 12s 6d; Deanshanger Union Church (surplus of Chapel Building Fund), £1 17s 6d.

The stone laying ceremony, which took place in fine weather on Monday afternoon, was fairly well attended. Rev S Cheshire, pastor of the Stony Stratford Baptist Church, presided. Among those present were; Alderman Richard Cleaver, JP. Northampton (treasurer of the Northampton Association of Baptist Churches), Rev D Claydon, Mr F W Woollard, CC., Mr C P Woollard, Mr Andrew Cosford, Mr J W Smith, Mr J E Wilson, Mr H S Perrin, Mr A J Barley, Mr F W Downing, Stony Stratford; Rev H F Chipperfield, Stantonbury; Rev J White and Mrs White, Potterspury; Mr A R Bianchi, Cosgrove; Mr Arthur Dovey, Deanshanger; Mr and Mrs P Adams, Daventry.

The proceedings commenced with the singing of the hymn “Come let us join our cheerful songs,” after which the Rev D Claydon read a passage of Scripture, and the Rev h F Chipperfield offered prayer.

The Rev S Cheshire, on behalf of all those connected with the work at Cosgrove, expressed gratitude to all the visitors for the support and sympathy they were giving to a village cause.

Mr F W Downing, secretary of the sub-committee, in the course of an interesting statement, sketched the progress of the movement for the New Mission Hall at Cosgrove. He paid tribute to the generosity of Mr Woollard at the inception of the scheme, and to the valuable efforts of Mr Holdom and Mr Wilson now that building had actually commenced. At that moment the amount still to be raised was about £180.

The first stone, the corner stone, was laid by Alderman Cleaver. When he had declared the stone well and truly laid, Mr Cleaver assured the congregation that all would be welcome within the walls of that building, for there would be no class distinctions in that House of God. It would be a family gathering house, where neighbours would meet on the Lord’s Day and other occasions, to worship and to encourage one another in the service of God. He trusted that Mr Cheshire, Mr Woollard and the other workers would see God’s blessing rest upon their work at Cosgrove, and that the building which was hallowed by their prayers and praise would henceforth be in reality a House of God.

Mr F W Woollard laid the second stone. He said he hoped that the village would look upon that hall as a hall for the whole village to the exclusion of none of its inhabitants, however humble, who wished to worship their God and seek salvation.

Mr A R Bianchi laid the third stone on behalf of the worshippers at the old Mission Hall.

The fourth stone, which bore the names of Mr C P Woollard and Mr F W Downing (superintendant of the Sunday School and secretary of the Building Committee), was laid by Mr Downing, and the last was laid by Rev S Cheshire on behalf of the Stony Stratford Church.

Upon each stone was inscribed the name of the gentleman laying it, and the date “1903”.

At the conclusion of the stone-laying, the Rev J White offered prayer and the Rev S Cheshire pronounced the Benediction.

The Chairman announced that Mr Cleaver had handed to him a cheque for £3 3s.

Subsequently tea was served in the old Mission Hall and in the evening a meeting addressed by the Rev S Cheshire, Mr Cleaver, Rev D Claydon, Rev J White, Rev H F Chipperfield, Mr Woollard, and others, took place.

Wolverton Express October 23rd 1903



The new Mission hall at Cosgrove, which has been recently erected, was opened on Thursday afternoon, when a well attended service was held in the Hall, which is in every way a comfortable one, and moreover a very pretty one.

[There follows a long extract from the article of August 14th]

In the afternoon a service was held in the Hall, there being a large congregation, every available seat in the building being occupied. The service was conducted by the Rev W Fidler, of Towcester, whilst an excellent address was given by the Rev J B Myers, of London, who based his discourse on the words: “After ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession”, (Ephesians 1, part of verses 13 and 14).After the service a public tea was held, tables being place in the new and old halls, upwards of 150 persons partaking of the good things provided. The tables were presided over by ladies of the congregation. A public meeting took place in the Hall at seven o’clock, when the Rev S Cheshire (Stony Stratford), presided over a crowded attendance, those on the platform including the Rev Philip H Smith (Northampton), the Rev D Clayton (Stony Stratford), Mr F W Woollard, Mr Bridgman and Mr F Downing. After the singing of the hymn “O God of Bethel”, and the prayer had been offered by Mr Bridgman, the Hon Secretary of the Building Committee (Mr F Downing), presented a report, in which he stated that for some years it had been felt that the accommodation in the old Mission Hall was not adequate for the requirements of the village, it being too small and very inconvenient. It had been resolved to build a larger Hall, but for some time they were unable to secure a piece of land, but at last, through the kindness of Mr Jelley and Mr Woollard, they had been able to obtain the plot on which the new building stood.

After the Committee had had the plans prepared, it was decided to start building when half the money required was raised, and as this money was obtained very quickly, the work was started at once, so as to have the building finished before the winter. The total cost had been £406, but this would have been larger but for the great deal of voluntary work which had been done. Mr Woollard had very kindly given the iron fencing, whilst an anonymous well-wisher had sent through Mr Cosford, the whole of the lamps required both inside and outside the Hall. Especial thanks were due to Mr Jelley for selling the ground on such acceptable terms, and also for providing the tea; whilst Mr Holdom and his host of helpers were thanked for making the whole of the pews required (applause). Up to the present time £234 3s 5d had been raised, leaving £170 to be obtained. Mr Woollard, who had given so much time and money towards the building of the Hall, and many others who had done all in their power to help forward the scheme, were also heartily thanks for their kind interest.

Mr F W Woollard, whom the Chairman said had so much to do with the matter, said that they could not attach too much importance to the voluntary help given by friends in Cosgrove. The money which they had collected had not sufficed to pay off the whole cost, and as had been the case with other chapels in the locality, there was a debt hanging over the place. They could not expect to get rid of that in a few days, but the sooner they got rid of it the better, for they would feel much more free when it was cleared off. He never liked to see a debt hanging over a House of God. As in the case of new chapels in other villages, much of the work had been done on the voluntary system, a great deal of the work being done by male members of the congregation in spare time in the evening. Mr Woollard went on to review the work done in other places of worship in the district and then said that they did not come to this new place to interfere with anybody. They simply came to take up the leavings (laughter). They would like to see the church filled as well as all the other places of worship, and they did not work in any spirit of antagonism to the vicar. In conclusion he urged all to do their best, and said that if they did so it would be a good thing for the village and the locality.

The Chairman gave Mr Smith a cordial welcome and said that he was sorry that the Rev W Fidler, Mr a P Hawtin, Mr White, Mr Welch and Mr Chipperfield had been unable to be present, although the two former had been present at the afternoon meeting.

The Rev P H Smith said that he was sorry he had been unable to be present at the afternoon meeting, and went on to say, amidst laughter, that he would like to speak on the fiscal problem, for he could tell them a great deal about the man who had brought it forward, he would let the matter go for the time being. Mr Smith went on to say that like Mr Woollard, he could not bear to have a debt hanging over a place of worship, though providing the debt was not an unreasonable one, it was not altogether a bad thing, for it was good to have some definite and worthy purpose to work for, and he hoped that they would put their shoulders to the wheel and not be afraid of the debt. According to the showing of several friends there was plenty of room in the Parish Room. Why then was it that they had built such a costly building to worship God in when they could have worshipped him at but little cost at church? It was because they claimed the right and privilege to worship entirely in their own way, according to the dictates of their consciences. Those were the reasons. They were however, Mr Smith thought, threatened at the present time with dark clouds, which menaced their religious liberty in this country. They should not fight for the sake of fighting, but they must do their best ……

In conclusion the rev. gentleman impressed on his hearers the need of the old fashioned prayer meetings. Socials, etc were all every well but he questioned whether the net spiritual gain was in proportion to the time and labour expended over them.

During the day collections were taken in aid of the Building Fund, to which the proceeds of the tea were also given.

Wolverton Express May 1st 1925

A sacred cantata, “From Manger to Cross” was effectively rendered on Sunday afternoon in the Cosgrove Mission Hall by the Stony Stratford Baptist Church choir under the direction of Mr Herbert Webb. Mr A Asprey was the organist. There was a good attendance and the collection taken was on behalf of the Sunday School in connexion with the Hall.

Wolverton Express July 23rd 1926

Anniversary Services were held on Sunday at the Mission Room when the Rev John B Haydon, of Stony Stratford, was the special preacher during the day. Special singing by the children and choir assisted by friends from Stony Stratford with Mr H Webb organist and conductor. The collections which were for school funds amounted to £1/10/0.

Wolverton Express August 20th 1926

Outing – Sunday School children and teachers of the Mission Hall visited Woburn, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont on Sunday by motor.

[note: it was very common during this period for Cosgrove children to attend the Sunday School at the Mission Hall but the Anglican church with their families.]

Wolverton Express 29th July, 1927


Anniversary Services: The Sunday school of the Mission Hall, Cosgrove, held their anniversary services on Sunday last.  In the afternoon a party of about 50 members of the new Bradwell Primitive Methodist Church choir and congregation, visited the Hall and considerably helped them during the day.  Mr. A E Brown, a local preacher, from Stony Stratford, took the chair in the afternoon, and the new Bradwell friends rendered the concert.  The following rendered musical items, Miss Mabel Waldock, solos; Miss Mildred Waldock, recitations; Miss Mabel Waldock and Miss Christine Waldock, duets.  The choir, under the conductorship of Mr I. Beckett, rendered the anthem, “Marching on to Victory”.  Miss Mabel Waldock presided at the organ.  All the friends from New Bradwell, including Mr. Brown, sat down to tea, served by members of the Mission Hall, Cosgrove.  At the evening’s service the New Bradwell choir led the congregation in the singing.  Miss Mabel Waldock again presided at the organ, and also rendered a solo.  Miss Christine Waldock and Miss Mabel Waldock rendered another duet.  The collections were for Sunday school funds.  The arrangements were made by Mr. G H Cross, Secretary of the New Bradwell Sunday School.

Wolverton Express 27th September, 1929

Cosgrove Mission Hall

Harvest festival services were held at the Cosgrove Mission Hall on Sunday last.  In the afternoon a party of Stony Stratford visitors provided a musical service, the soloists being Misses Cockerill, W Downing, and Nancy Williams.  Mrs. Lambert gave recitations, whilst Mr. CP Woollard, JP, delivered an appropriate address.  A vote of thanks to the visitors were of was voiced by Mr S. Williams.  A collection was taken on behalf of the Sunday School Fund.  In the evening the service was conducted by Mr G. Faulkner, of Castlethorpe, when there was another good congregation.

Wolverton Express 6th January, 1933


Mission Hall

A unique record held by Mr. C P Woollard JP, of Stony Stratford, is that each year since the Cosgrove Mission Hall has been in being, he has been privileged to deliver the New Year’s address.  His address at the evening service on Sunday last was the 45th New Year’s address he had given in this place of worship.

Wolverton Express 12th January, 1934

Cosgrove Mission Hall

To be a Branch Church with Stony Stratford

It may be of interest to recall that the Mission was taken over from the Wesleyans in 1887.  Services at that date were held in a cottage belonging to Mr. Grimes, who had so constructed one of them that the upper part formed a large upper room capable of holding fifty people, with a separate exit, and this was used for religious services.  When Mr. Grimes left, the work was taken over by the “United Brethren Lay Preachers’ Association, of which Mr. Woollard was at that time the Secretary, and he linked them up with the Baptist church in Stony Stratford.  The services from this date were carried on regularly by the lay preachers, Mr. Woollard acting as superintendent.

One of Mr. Woollard’s first efforts in 1887 was to reorganise the Lay Preachers’ Association - the membership was then less than twenty, but a glance at the plan of the 1887 recalls some faithful workers - Maine, G Barley, C Barley, B. Harris, Cosford, Cowley, Irons, Neal, Mackerness, Daniels, Goodger, Swannell, Wooton, Faulkner and others - these have all passed on but they had left behind a fragrant memory of unselfish earnest devotion and fidelity to the church of Jesus Christ.  The membership today is about fifty, serving a radius of ten miles.

In 1903, with the help of Stony Stratford friends, the present Mission Hall was erected at a cost of £400.  The seats were all made by the late Mr. Joe Holdom, a most loyal member.  A Sunday school was also started, and has been superintended by Mr. F Downing for thirty seven years.  The electric light has been recently installed and the place redecorated.

Last week at meeting was held in the Mission Hall by those who usually attend the services, and it was unanimously resolved to form a branch church with Stony Stratford - the Mission Hall still retaining its character of open membership.  The Rev. L Curwood, Mr. Harris, and Mr. Woollard were present and received the request.  Mr. H Harris was appointed lay pastor.  He will commence his duty of superintendent in March and will conduct the services on two Sundays each month.  Mr Downing will continue his work in connection with the Sunday school.  Although there less actively, Mr. Woollard still hopes to retain some association with the work.  It has been his privilege to conduct the New Year’s service from the commencement and last Sunday was his 46th visit without a break.  His subject suitable in the session was “I believe” 1) to God 2) in the church 3) in Cosgrove and its possibilities.  There was a good attendance Miss K Benson was at the organ and Mr. N Tooley read the lessons.

Wolverton Express 12th January, 1934

A Social Gathering

On Saturday the boys and girls connected with the Cosgrove Mission Hall Sunday School enjoyed a pleasant social gathering together with their parents.  A Christmas tree kindly provided by Mr. G H. Winterbottom was loaded with presents and gaily decorated by Mr. and Mrs. G. Williams, Mr. Samuel Williams, and Mrs. Ray.  Tea was provided for the children, and afterwards for the adults.  Mr. Faulkner of Wolverton kindly arranged an entertainment in which old and young shared and enjoyed.  About seventy were present.

Wolverton Express 16th March, 1934

Cosgrove Mission Hall

Made Branch Church of Stony Stratford Baptist Church

On 5th March a meeting was held in the Cosgrove Mission Hall which marks the opening of a new chapter in the history of the place.  The request having been received from a number of those who attend the Hall that they might become members of the Baptist Church, inquiries were made and visits exchanged which resulted in the Rev. L Curwood and his deacons and about forty members of the church visiting the Mission Hall to receive the public confession of faith of those wishing to join and receive them into fellowship.

Mr. CP Woollard drew attention to the fact that it was just 47 years since it was decided to open the Mission.  The first service was conducted by Mr. George Barley and the work has since been carried on chiefly by the Lay Preachers’ Association.  For sixteen years services were held in a small room seating about seventy people, until 1903, when the present Hall was built, the money being raised almost entirely by the Baptist Church.  The trustees, with one exception, are all members of this church.

A Sunday school has been conducted since the commencement first by Mrs Richardson (now in America) and then by Mr. J W Smith and Mr. F Downing who has a record of thirty seven years’ service.

Mr. Woollard asked “What is a Christian church?”  It is not made of bricks and mortar - nor is it a social club composed of men and women - nor is it a community of good people, but it is a community of men and women whose object and ideal is goodness.  We admit evil within and around us - we do not come here in any spirit of superiority, or any air of boastfulness.  Our only hope and confidence is in Him through home we become more than conquerors.  It is in this spirit we are here, to offer the right hand of fellowship to our new members and wish them God speed in the new course which opens before them tonight. 

Among those to whom with the Rev. Curwood gave the right hand of fellowship was an old lady of eighty, who has attended the Mission Hall since its opening, 47 years ago.

The Rev. Curwood asked: What is necessary to the building of the church?  It is not merely a human fellowship in which everybody ought to be very friendly.  You must have a Divine Saviour and a believing soul - without this you have no church, whatever else you may possess.  The Church is the Body of Chris -t the body does the work of the Spirit within.  Those who join us tonight confess that they believe in their Divine Saviour, whom they believe can and will redeem them.

Mr. Curwood then introduced Mr. H Harris as the Lay Preacher of the church, charging him to be a faithful steward of God and to take up the work as a divine commission.  He concluded, “Sir, I charge you to keep it holy. Keep it as a sacred thing.”

In closing the service Mr. Harris briefly responded to the charge he had received and promised that to the best of his ability he would be a faithful steward.  His only desire was, without adopting any sensational methods to witness for his master, and build up an abiding church.

During the service the consecration hymns were sung, “Oh Jesus I have promised” and “Take my life and let it be”.  Mrs Calladine presiding at the organ.  Mr. Downing read the lesson.

The whole service was marked by a deeply reverent spirit - there was no “sound as of a mighty rushing wind”, but during the whole service and especially during the prayers of consecration everyone felt conscious of a Very Real Presence in our midst.

C.  P.  W.

Wolverton Express 12th October, 1934

Harvest services

At the Baptist Church (late Mission Hall), Cosgrove, harvest thanksgiving services were held on Sunday.  In the afternoon the Rev. L W S Curwood (pastor) conducted and a children’s address was given by Mr. C P Woollard JP. Mr. H J Harris (Stony Stratford) conducted the evening service.  The church was tastefully decorated with harvest gifts and the collections, together with the proceeds of sale which took place on Monday evening, were on behalf of the Northampton General Hospital.