Burton Road Methodist Church

Ashby de la Zouch

By Andy Cadman

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Burton Road Methodist Church' page

Burton Road Methodist Church Jubilee 1906 – 1956  

(From a booklet specially produced  for the occasion).

George Ree William Smedley
James Ellis Ernest Smedley
William Buck Hector Smedley
William Thornley William Moore
Thomas Hood William Haywood
George Dixon Frank Ree
Thomas Richards Wilmot Haynes

Trust Secretary...... George Ree
Trust Treasurer...... George Dixon
Society Steward......George Trussell

Herbert Cooper Kenneth Cox
Ronald Winfieldale Ronald Baker
Walter Ward Lena Smedley
Horace Gilbert Joan A. Smedley
Wilmot Haynes

Trust Secretary......Kenneth Cox
Trust Treasurer......Percy Sewell
Society Stewards....E. Hiley, R. Winfieldale and J.J. Baker, O.B.E.,BA


1897 Rev. J. W. Gregory
1908 Rev. G. T. Fawcett
1913 Rev. J. Blayney
1920 Rev. W. Hughes
1930 Rev. A. B. Gowers, BA
1933 Rev. G. T. Chappell
1937 Rev. C. Wacey
1941 Rev. W. Killcross
1948 Rev. S. McCutcheon, M.M.
1955 Rev. W. J. Tubb
1956 Rev. A. H. Kobish

“What God hath wrought”                    

Primitive beginnings

When the Methodist Churches united in 1932, the Primitive Methodist Church in Ashby had been established for almost a century.
In 1818, Ashby was missioned by Primitive Methodists from Loughborough, who were very well received. From time to time, during the next fifteen years, further missions were held, until in 1833, under the ministry of the Rev. Wm. Antliff, a Chapel was built on the Green (near to Smithard’s shop) part of which remains to-day.
Thus began the story of the Primitive Methodist Church in Ashby.
The fellowship of the Church was such that the membership grew too large for the building and in 1862 a Chapel in Mill Lane was purchased from the Baptists.
Again the Church grew in numbers and in the Power of the Spirit, and we understand that members in their turn went out missioning for Primitive Methodism around the Church Gresley and Coalville areas.

A new chapel

As the years passed by, it was borne upon the Ashby members that no longer should they worship in a side street, but that ground must be purchased for a new Chapel and Schools in a more prominent place.
Thus, during the ministry of Rev. J. W. Gregory, in 1905, a plot of ground in New Burton Road was purchased at a cost of £250.
Then began a great work through sewing meetings, teas, suppers and family offering boxes. The generosity of folk who had large families and so little of this world’s goods cannot be measured. His Kingdom must be furthered, whatever the cost!
A member of the Church, Mr. Harry Smedley, was chosen as Architect of the new buildings. He designed a Church in the Gothic style, adapted to modern requirements, 53 feet by 35 feet and 8 inches, and 40 feet wide at the transepts; the internal wood-work being all of varnished pitch pine, and the windows, buttresses, etc., being all of buff terracotta from the Coronet Works, Measham. (These latter having been designed by the architect, and made under the direction of Mr. George Ree.)
The tender of Messrs. T. Orton and Son of £2,175 was accepted by the Committee.
The Schools were built first, and opened at the end of December, 1905.
The Stone-laying Ceremony of the new Church took place on 7th March, 1906, before an illustrious gathering, under the chairmanship of the Rev. J. W. Gregory.
The first stone was laid by Sir Chas. McLaren, Bart., and M.P. for the Bosworth Division. Other stones were laid by representatives of various Churches and organisations in the area.
At the evening meeting, under the chairmanship of Mr. J. P. Adcock,J.P., the speakers were Rev. J. D. T. Humphries and Mr. Moses Bourne.
Mr. Gregory announced that the sale of the old Chapel bad realised
£380 (out of this an old debt of £170 had been paid off), and that so far£1,150 had been raised towards the new building.
On that day a further £450/11/- was gathered in, and still more on the following Saturday, when bricks were laid by the scholars.
The great day came when the work was completed. On the 22nd August, 1906, the Chapel was opened for Public Worship.
At 2.45 p.m., Mr. Gregory conducted a short service at the front, then Mrs. Stubbs (Lemington), an old scholar, performed the Opening Ceremony, and the doors were opened to the Congregation.
The first service was conducted by Rev. J. H. Saxton (Leicester). After tea, the Public Meeting was addressed by Mr. Saxton, under the chairmanship of Councillor G. Hilton (Leicester). 

The life of the new Church

It was not until 10th January, 1912, that the first “At Home” to raise money for Trust Funds was held. This was introduced by Mrs. Jabez Bell, and she and her brother, Will Smedley, were host and hostess. The grand sum realised was £4/13/-! Now the Annual “At Home” is the Trust Effort of the year.
In April, 1913, individual Communion glasses were introduced in place of the communal silver cup used since 1888.
Also in that same year, a pipe organ was installed. This was purchased from Holy Trinity Church at a cost of £85 The cost of removal and rebuilding amounted to £85. The Opening Ceremony was performed by Mrs. C. H. Parsons. Organ recitals, donations and collecting cards were means by which the cost was defrayed. Miss Dixon was the first organist. In the Treasurer’s book, there are records of the organ blower’s salary until 1943, when an electric blower was installed by Taylor’s of Leicester at a cost of £51.
In the early 1920s, a pitch pine side-pulpit was made and installed by the architect of the Church, for the use of the preacher at Sunday School Anniversaries.
The Church was lighted by gas until 1926, when electric light was installed at a cost of £63/13/-. Members still speak of the days when candles were kept in the pew drawers in case the light failed, as it did on a number of occasions. They were determined to be prepared after one local preacher was forced to carry on in the dark!
About this time the Church was enriched by the ministry of a beloved superannuated minister, the Rev. Danzy Sheen. We remember with gratitude his sacrificial service.
In 1931, the 25th Birthday Celebrations were held. The Birthday Cake was cut by Miss E. Trussell. £51/3/10 was raised for Trust Funds, and many happy memories were revived at this re-union.

Memorial to Mrs Jabez Bell

Photo:Window in memory of Nancy Bell

Window in memory of Nancy Bell


A stained-glass window, in memory of Mrs. Jabez Bell,was unveiled by her grandson, George Meachim, on 9th May, 1934. The call to worship was conducted by Rev. G. T. Chappell, the prayers being taken by Rev. Wm. Barker, and the Vice-President of Conference, Mr. Moses Bourne, gave the address. The inscription on the window reads:                                  

To the Glory of God
In Radiant Memory of
the precious Wife of Jabez Bell,
Mother of
Dorothy Meachim and Catherine Royle,
and daughter of Harry Smedley,
architect of this Church.
‘Her heart was always doing lovely things’.

Final debt cleared

During the ministry of Rev. C. Wacey, the members were inspired to increase their efforts to raise money to clear off the debt remaining on the Church. The final amount was paid off on 14th October, 1942.
There were great celebrations at the “At Home” held on 20th January, 1943, under the chairmanship of Rev. Wm. Killcross. Mrs. J. W. Price stripped the tree—then the lights were lowered and Ernest and Hector Smedley held the final note of hand over a lighted match until it had burned away! Everyone rose then to sing the Doxology.

Further memorials

On Easter Day, 1954, a brass cross and vases were placed on the Communion table and dedicated by Rev. S. McCutcheon, in memory of Hector Smedley, who for many years had worked in the Church he loved so dearly.
In 1955, a small brass vase was placed in the Memorial Window in memory of Miss Smedley (Auntie Lou), one who had cherished all that “Burton Road” stood for.
On 8th April, 1956, an electric clock was dedicated by Rev. H. Hazlehurst, B.A., in memory of Percy S. Cox, a Society Steward, Sunday School worker, and a great Christian stalwart.

Last service at Mill Lane

The last service in the Mill Lane Chapel, we understand, was conducted by Mr. Tom Bull, a beloved local preacher, about whom we find the following in the Quarterly Meeting Minutes of 15th March, 1910:
“We heartily congratulate Brother Tom Bull upon attaining his 60th year of membership in our Church, the whole of which period he has spent upon this Circuit.”


In a short history like this, so little can be said, but mention must be made of the Dixon family and the Trussell family, members of whom have held many offices in the Church and have given gloriously and sacrificially throughout the years. We remember Mr. and Mrs. Richards and the work they strove to do.
We think of families who have served so faithfully from the beginning and whose names are a part of the Church—Families Baker, Bradbury, Cleobury, Cooper, Cox, Haywood, Gilbert, Lane, Smithard, Taylor, Thornley, Ward.

“Time would fail me to tell of “—Tiny Tots Concerts, both Men’s and Women’s Efforts, The Old Village Wedding—Christian Endeavour—Good Companions, Men’s Fireside—Joyous Circle, Women’s Guild and Fellowship—Young People’s Meetings—Sunday School—all making up the happy family life of the Church.

We praise God for the ministers and their wives who throughout the years have helped and guided. We praise Him that for a short time there was given to us the joy of knowing the quiet wisdom, friendliness and statesmanship of the Rev. W. J. Tubb.
As we go to press, we are soon to welcome into our midst the Rev. and Mrs. A. H. Kobish, who start their ministry amongst us as we embark on our second fifty years of witness.
As we look back, so we must look forward, for “we are compassed about by a great cloud of witnesses “. May this Jubilee be not only a time of retrospection but a time of introspection, of challenge and consecration.

“Until with those who toiled and dreamed
To build Thy kingdom here,
With those the world hath ne’er esteemed,
With all the hosts of Thy redeemed,
We in Thy home appear.”


Wednesday, 10th October
Preacher: Rev. Wm. Killcross (Nantwich) Refreshments in Schoolroom

Sunday, 14th October
10-45 a.m. and 6 p.m. DIVINE WORSHIP
Preacher: Rev. Wm. Hughes (Cromer)
Speaker: Mr. E. B. Bradbury (Cosby)

Wednesday, 17th October
Guest Speaker: Rev. Wm. Hughes

Saturday, 20th October
Chairman: Mr. G. H. Cooper (Leicester) Gifts received by Mrs. Joseph Harrison
Host and Hostess: Rev. and Mrs. A. H. Kobish
Cake cut by Mrs. A. Baker and Mrs. Gilbert
Gifts opened by Mrs. P. S. Cox and Mrs. H. Smedley

Sunday, 21st October
10-45 a.m. and 6-0 p.m. DIVINE WORSHIP
Preacher: Rev. G. Underwood, M.A., B.A.

This page was added by Andy Cadman on 04/03/2013.
Comments about this page

In 2006 Ashby de la Zouch Methodist Church celebrated 100 years of ministry and mission from her present building at Burton Road.

By Andy Cadman
On 05/03/2013

A member of my family, William Palmer, was commissioned as one of John Wesley's travelling preachers in 1783 and is recorded as being stationed at Ashby de la Zouch in 1809-1810 Best wishes.

By Les Button
On 25/03/2013

I was at Burton Road CofE Junior School opposite the chapel from 1964 to 1968. The chapel schoolrooms at that time were used as an extension to the school during the week. I remember the Sunday School Anniversaries where we children took over the service and performed hymns old and new. We had numerous rehearsals led by Joan and Lena Smedley and were expected to learn everything by heart. We had morning Sunday School before the church services led by Joan where the few of us that went took it in turns to choose readings and hymns and to make up our own prayers. Sunday School in the afternoon was more traditional where we sang a couple of hymns from the Methodist School Hymnal (I still have a words copy of this passed down from my aunt), and then we would split up into the various age groups for classes. The Youth Group was a joint one with the Baptists in Mill Lane. Monday night was at the Baptist Chapel and Friday in our top schoolroom. In the 1970's we had a small drama club formed by a retired actress and put on a number of plays, usually farces, and also did sketches in the church. I was married in the chapel in 1981 by Revd. Kenneth E.N. Garrard. It was raining outside so the photographer took a group photograph from the balcony above the pulpit of everyone in the chapel.

By Carole Sherratt
On 23/05/2013

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