NONCONFORMISTS COME TO BEXHILL
Wesleyan Chapel (circa 1905)
The site was set back from the newly constructed Barrack Road and was positioned on the corner of two minor tracks (one to the west and one that led to a farmstead to the north).
The building was completed in 1825 and is said to be a good example of the utilitarian architecture of the early non-conformist chapels. It has a simple classical south facing elevation with a set of tall, round headed windows, a projecting porch and a raised decorative date stone mounted in the gable.
Bexhill’s first recorded sunday school was run in the basement under the Chapel. By 1862 numbers had increased to 90, promoting a schoolroom to be added to the west of the building in 1869.
Further expansion took place when planning permission was obtained to extend at the north end of the chapel in 1886. This resulted in additional windows to the east and west elevations and increased the seating capacity to 180.
A strong temperance movement was based at the Chapel and led by Walter Noakes, successfully campaigned against many applications for liquor licences in the growing resort of Bexhill-on-Sea.
After the building boom of the 1890’s and 1900’s, there was a great slump in Bexhill. Many builders who were fully employed in the new town, went bankrupt. The chapel stepped in and gave financial help to many who wished to emigrate through a government scheme of assisted passage, mostly to Canada.
To celebrate the chapels centenary in 1925, the school was enlarged yet again and alterations made to the chapel itself. Additional land was purchased from Bexhill Corporation with assistance from Sir Ernest Lamb. However, support for the chapel started to wane when services started to transfer to the larger church in Springfield Road.
After 113 years, the chapel was purchased by the Bexhill Corporation in April 1938, and by may that year, all Methodist activities had ceased. The premises has since had a variety of uses and tenants, the most recent of which being a Nursery School who have used the site since 1987.
It is one of the very few building on the lower section of Belle Hill that survived the construction of King Offa Way. However, being now positioned on the north side of the carriageway, it feels rather removed from the Old Town.
John Wesley (founder of the Methodist movement)