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History

Culmstock has an important place in the history of Methodism and still the Methodist people of the area continue that work of Christian witness today.  John Wesley the founder of Methodism came to Culmstock, where on Monday 22nd. September 1766 he preached in the street to almost all the inhabitants of the town.
 
When his life was coming to an end, he organised the continuation and development of the worldwide Methodist Church by hand picking the Legal Hundred, a body of 100 of his preachers chosen to govern the work he and his brother Charles had started. One of those 100 men was a John Moon who was born in Culmstock in 1751, the cousin of one Samuel Potter who was the village baker and lived at Perlycross until 1830.  Since that time and to the present day, Christian worship in the Methodist Tradition has been carried on every Sunday in the village and now attracts a membership from the upper Culm Valley and the neighbouring villages of Uffculme and Hemyock.

Another interesting fact about the village is that the Archbishop of Canterbury during World War 2, William Temple also came from Culmstock, (as did his father Frederick, who was a previous Archbishop Of Canterbury). William would often tell the story of how when he was a boy in the village, his maternal Aunt would always take him along to her Methodist Chapel to hear some real preaching.

The little Christian chapel building that presently exists at Culmstock, now provides the only Methodist presence in the upper Culm Valley. It is not a listed building but stands in a conservation area and within the unspoilt rurality of the Blackdown Hills, an area of special scientific interest. The building (1888) has over the years been developed and maintained in very good order. 
 
The history of the present building is also of some notable interest. It is the second to have been built in the village. (The first at Smallbrook, being closed in 1889). It was built in 1888 as a Wesleyan chapel in the old orchard of the adjacent farm, (now a dwelling known as Vennwoods), by the Pook family who were active Methodists. Their families connection with the chapel lasted for over 100 years, finally ending with the death in 1985, of Miss. Mabel Tucker who had lived in that farm for all of her long life
To keep the integrity of a 120-year-old building in a conservation area but also to maintain it to an acceptable standard for 21st. Century secular use, and as an appropriate sanctuary for worship can become a difficult balancing act between tradition, modernity, space, comfort and finance. 

The building is of the style of a pseudo, gothic, Anglican, chapel of ease. This we are expertly informed, is a most unusual type of building to be found within the Methodist (Wesleyan) Tradition; having been built at a time after the majority of their worship places had been completed. The reason for this was that the village had a previously built (1808) classic style Methodist Meeting / Preaching house at the end of Silver Street, some little way out of the village at Southbrook. This is now a private dwelling known as The Old Chapel. Its supersedence by the present building, being as a gift from the Pook family and putting the Methodist presence at the heart and most definite centre of the village.

Internally the building has been kept in a traditional way, in keeping with a conservation area. The features are all of pitch pine including the reading desk, pulpit facia rail, room dividers and pews. The two plaster columns have a peony facade and the original windows of small leaded squares are still in situ.

To maintain the fabric of the building of this style and in good a condition of repair is an ever-continuing task. We do however most definitely Worship the Lord and not the building, but it is our present base in which and from which our mission for His work proceeds.

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