The New Chapel

Of the beginning of a scheme to replace Bowden Hill chapel Chick says “One brother, whose memory is very precious to Crediton Methodists was William Perkins Harper. We have heard it said of him that in prayer he seemed to lead the company present into the immediate presence of God. This good man left in trust a sum of money toward building a new church, which, by the year 1891, amounted with interest to close on £400. The friends were, with this help, enabled to buy a splendid site in Union Road, on which in 1892, was erected the beautiful and commodious block of buildings. A Methodist Recorder article on Exeter Methodism of August 30th 1900 says of Mr Harper that “his nickname was Heavenly Father,” due to the fact that he was never known, but once, to commence his public prayers with any other words,” He is described as a working thatcher, so his generous gift is a tribute to his thrift and devotion to the work of God.

The stone laying of the new building was described thus in the Exeter circuit Wesleyan Methodist Church Record:­

Crediton new chapel. The Foundation stones were laid on September 4th 1891 by Lord Lymington MP (now Lord Portsmouth), Lady Lymington and Miss Lile. The service was conducted by the incoming supt. the Rev Richard Harding and an admirable address was given by the outgoing, the Rev George Tyler. Thomas Andrew Esq. JP presided at a luncheon subsequently, at which appro­priate speeches were made and subscriptions given. The financial result was about £60.

The trustees met on March 30th 1892 and discussed the arrangements for the opening. The date would be April 28th 1892 and the ceremony would be performed by the President of the Conference, the Rev Dr Stephenson. He was to preach at 3p.m. and address the public meeting at 6.30 p.m. There would be tea at 5.00 p.m., J.H. Lile Esq. of London to be chairman. Mr Lane of Bristol was also to be invited on the opening day.

The cost of the scheme was £1,725. Mr R. Jennings was treasurer, Mr W. Stoyle, secretary, Mrs Lyne was appointed to be caretaker at 2/6 per week. A heating apparatus was ordered for £35. James Crocker of Exeter was the architect, and Messrs. Stephens and Son the Contractors. Messrs. Thomas and Jennings were to be Plumbers and Decorators, the latter acting as Hon. Clerk of Works.