Bere Heath Methodist Society was formed at some time between 1815
& 1829 and meetings were held in the house of Benjamin Romain
before the Chapel was built. The first Trust was formed in 1849
consisting of 12 members. Mr Robert Hoare gave a site and the
new Chapel was opened on 24th October 1850. In 1889 only two of
the original Trustees were still living, so a new Trust was formed
with 13 additional members, making 15 in all. The Trust was again
renewed in 1948 when only 3 Trustees were still living. In 1939
£50 was spent on repairs and in 1944 the original rostrum
was removed and replaced by a pulpit and communion rail.
Centenary of the Chapel was celebrated in November 1950 and you
can find a Transcript of the Brochure issued in connection with
the Centenary of the Building of the Chapel below (courtesy of
John Pitfield) -
Short History of the Society
the Society at Bere Heath was first formed I am not able to say,
but from various sources it would appear to be some time between
1815 and 1829. In the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Memorial Chapel, there
is a copy of a Weymouth Circuit Plan for December 1829 to February
1830, and Bere Heath was one of the preaching places supplied.
book loaned by Miss Jane Wilcox reveals some very interesting information
concerning the early days of the Society. Before the chapel was
built, they met in the house of Mr Benjamin Romain, of whom it is
said that he was a Local Preacher, Class Leader and later Chapel
Steward "faithful to the Church of his choice."
first "Trust" was formed in 1849, and the following
were members of it: Benjamin Romain, John Ricketts, George Romain,
Levi Riggs, Henry Ainsworth, George Riggs, Isscher Day, George
Cole, Edward Galpin, Eli Savoury, William Hammett, Robert Hoare.
book also gave us some fifty years of the history of the Chapel,
which is here related. The building was erected in 1850 on a site
kindly given by Mr Robert Hoare, at a cost of £120.18s.8d
voluntarily contributed by members of the Society, and friends
in the Dorchester Circuit. The Superintendent at that time was
the Rev. J. Stevens, and the Chapel was opened by the Rev. J.
Smeeth of Poole on the 24th October, 1850.
building was then described as having "a cold brick floor,
open rail seats, and a high pulpit lighted with candles."
In 1870 a new floor was laid, and new seating installed; this
and other renovations cost about £35. As far as can be ascertained
the stable was added in the year 1886. This, along with other
renovations incurred the further expense of £20. Three years
later the Chapel deeds were renewed, and a stove installed. About
the same time Elizabeth Foster presented a clock to the Society.
was found in 1889 that only two trustees were surviving so a new
trust was formed including the two former members; William Hammett
and J.W. Barrett and the following new members:
Snook, William Crocker, Robert Thorne, James Henvill, Benjamin Baker,
Edwin Shave, Elias Joiner, Alphonso Wolff, Gideon Wright, George
Sanders, Henry Marsh, Walter Beckingham and Thomas Besant.
the next few years various sums were raised, at Anniversary Teas,
and other special occasions, so that in 1897 a new harmonium was
acquired. At the Chapel Anniversary in 1899 the sum of £3.14s.0d
was raised, so that the ventilation of the building could be improved.
The actual work was not carried out for some considerable time.
brings us to 1900, and the Fiftieth Anniversary, but unfortunately
my information about this event, and subsequent history until
more recent days has been only verbal. What took place on this
occasion I am unable to say, apart from the fact that the Choir
from Whitechurch joined the celebrations. The thrill of the latter
event still remains in the mind of the oldest member, Miss Jane
Wilcox. The same lady also remembers the preaching of one of the
original Trustees, namely Levi Riggs, who was also a Circuit Steward.
From what she tells me his preaching carried great conviction.
The indebtedness of the Circuit to this man is noted in John S.
Simon's book "Methodism in Dorset".
1935 a generous gift of £100 was made to the trust by Mr
Frank Hoare. After five pounds had been deducted from this sum
the rest was invested in the name of the Chapel.
the trust met in February 1939 it was reported that in order to
keep the premises in a good state of repair certain interior and
exterior renovations were necessary. This work was carried out
at a cost of £50. Further interior alterations were effected
in 1944 because it was felt that the light in the pulpit could
be improved. The original rostrum was removed, and a pulpit then
constructed in the right-hand corner near the window. The expense
incurred for this was £2.10s. About the same time a communion
rail was made to replace the rostrum. The actual expense for this
is not mentioned.
is of interest to note, in view of the original cost already mentioned,
that the Chapel is at present valued at £800. The Trust
was again renewed in 1948 when it was realised that only three
Trustees were still living. Mr Robert Thorne, Mr James Vine and
Mr Cecil W. Hayes.
Sunday School since the beginning of this Century has been indebted
to the faithful service of Mrs Rolls with the assistance of Mrs
Burden and Miss Wilcox. Mrs Burden succeeded Miss Rolls and she
in turn was followed by Miss Wilcox. This brings us up to a few
years before the last war. The work was continued for some time,
but owing to ill health, the Superintendent very reluctantly had
to resign, and in the absence of a successor the School was closed.
we come to our Centenary, finding that our Chapel premises have
served us well, and there is every reason to expect many more
years of fellowship within its walls.
connection with the above Centenary, services were held on Sunday
12 November 1950 at 3.00pm and 6.00pm, and on Wednesday 15 November,
1950 at 7.00pm. On Sunday the special preachers were at 3.00pm.
Mr J.I. Miller of Poole, and at 6.00pm Rev Wilfred E. Curry, Superintendent
Minister. On Wednesday evening the Chairman was Mr L.H.Gray of
Milborne St Andrew, and the speakers Rev A. Gordon James and Rev
F. Balch, former ministers of this circuit.
19th November 1966, the first ever marriage service took place there,
after the building had been licensed for weddings in that year.