Commonwood PM Chapel, North Wales

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Commonwood PM Chapel, North Wales' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Commonwood PM Chapel, North Wales' page

an acted parable?

By David Young

My 1947 Ordnance Survey map shows the position of the Primitive Methodist chapel which was in the Chester Second Circuit. My photograph shows the site today. No trace remains of the chapel, and a lady living in one of the houses opposite had no knowledge of there ever having been one there.

Such sights cause me to ponder a number of thoughts. One is whether what we see here could be a sort of parable: is the influence of Primitive Methodism being allowed so to fade that soon it will leave no more trace than it has at Commonwood?

Another thought is from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:14 - "I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing ... can be taken from it." Every man, woman or child who trusted Christ in that little chapel, and who 'endured to the end' as our Lord said, is now in the Lord's presence "in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (Shorter Book of Offices, Methodist Publishing House, page 45). Nothing can take away from that.

And thirdly I think of some words from the life story of Methodist minister and revivalist, William Bramwell, published in The Library of Methodist Biography:

Bramwell returned from a session of Conference, and sat down wringing his hands and crying, 'Lord, have mercy upon us! It is all over with us.' Many times he solemnly declared that 'the glory had departed.'

He wrote a letter to every superintendent minister:

I have long been penetrated with the liveliest sorrow at perceiving an evident decline of that burning zeal, that active perseverance, that vital holiness, that lamenting love, which actuated the first Methodist preachers: and which enabled them victoriously to triumph over every obstacle... Alas! my brethren. We have entered into their labours, but have we retained their spirit?

This page was added by David Young on 02/11/2012.
Comments about this page

According to a book in Wrexham museum, this was a small room used for worship and a Sunday school. A certain Ben Roberts came in 1893 and became both the Sunday school superintendent and a local preacher. Most services were conducted by local preachers, one of the best being regarded as William Belmont Saddler, a farmer.

By David Young
On 09/01/2013

The cash book listing the weekly offerings at Commonwood for 1926-30 has survived. Some examples are: 5.9.1926, 2/4½ (= ca 14p) 14.11.1926 4/9 (the highest sum I noted, = about 24p) By mid 1927 the entry "no service" begins to appear some Sundays. By 19.1.1930 the offering dropped to 1/9 (= ca 9p), and the following month dropped to 9d (= ca 4p). Here we observe with sadness two aspects of the decline of the cause as it moved towards final extinction.

By David Young
On 22/04/2013

There are several reports on the work of this chapel in the Wrexham Advertiser. The 26th September 1903 issue states that "The Primitive Methodists held their annual meetings in the Iron Chapel, which is situate within one-and-a-half miles of the town of Holt." This gives perhaps a clearer idea of what manner of "small room used for worship" (as in the book quoted above) the meeting place might have been.

By David Young
On 23/04/2014

The last person deemed likely to have personal memories of the chapel was born in 1928 and died at Christmastime 2016. He used to go to the chapel as a boy, presumably to the Sunday School if there was one. Sadly I missed the opportunity to interview him by about seven months. Requiescat in pace.

By David Young
On 08/07/2017

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