History - The Bible Christians

The Bible Christians

 

Although this is the story of the Wesleyan Methodist church in Crediton, brief mention should be made of the Bible Christian churches of the town. Pioneer Bible Christians were Mr and Mrs Hedger who came to Crediton from Frithelstock. The 1861 census shows them as living in Threshers. Elizabeth Hedger was then aged 42, her husband 44. Mrs Hedger was a local preacher and joined with a Miss Vicary in holding services in a cottage at Landscore, then in another near the Green, out of which evolved, on the same site, a place of worship to seat 200. This information is given in Venn (II 165). The High Street chapel (now Brethren) was opened in 1860, and a smaller one at Fordton in 1899. There was also a preaching place at Stokes Farm, Shobrooke, in a building provided by the farmer, at which services were held from 1888 to 1910.

At the time of the building of the Wesleyan Methodist church the Bible Christians were extending their premises, which had become too small for the numbers attending. The foundation stones of the new portion were laid on October 12th 1891. The architect was Mr James Crocker of Exeter and the contractor Mr J.S. Brook of Crediton. The building was doubled in length, an adjoining cottage being demolished to accomplish this. During the alterations the Bible Christians met at the Congregational church, each church alternately providing a preacher.

The re-opening services were held on Sunday and Monday January 31st and February 1st 1892, On the Sunday the President (the Rev F.W. Bourne) preached three times. The Bible Christian magazine said “It was a good day. The chapel was nearly full in the morning, quite full in the afternoon, and crowded at night when many persons were unable to get in.” So, in the space of three months Crediton was visited both by the President of the Bible Christian church and the President of the WM church.

Clearly much had happened since 1886, when an evangelist, Mr Kelley submitted a report to the Bible Christian magazine. He wrote “on Saturday October 3rd we held a meeting with about 20 present. It was a good service. They all agreed that a revival was needed in the churches, needed in the homes of the people. In John Wesley’s Journal Kirton is spoken of as a “wicked place.” And it is wicked still. There is a theatre not far from our chapel which at the same time was crowded.” (The 'theatre' mentioned here was probably the Assembly Room of Crediton Public Rooms, which building was opened in 1853. It is now a furniture store.

The Bible Christian Society united with the Wesleyans in 1954, and the trustees agreed to accept the offer of “the Gospel Hall people” of £2,375 and for them to take posession when it was arranged by their solicitors. The Bible Christian building is now known as High Street Chapel.

The Fordton Bible Christian church served from 1899 until 1967, when services ceased on the 3rd September. The final meeting of the trustees was held on December 16th 1968. The building is now a Post Office stores.

From the time of the closure of Fordton Methodist work in Crediton has been centred upon Union Road.

Membership of the Church, which had been 34 in 1844, was 42 in 1894. 55 in 1900, 58 in 1940, 71 in 1960 (this was after the union of the WM and BC churches). The present membership is 133.

After the opening of Union Road the premises at Bowden Hill were used first as a drill hall, then from 1925 were leased to the Roman Catholic Church and is now the Moose Hall.