End of an era as chapel closes for good after two centuries of service

Nearly two centuries of history comes to an end.

Alison Evans and Mary Evans outside Marsh Green Methodist Chapel which has closed
Alison Evans and Mary Evans outside Marsh Green Methodist Chapel which has closed

It’s the end of an era for a rural chapel which has closed it doors for good after almost two centuries of Sunday services and community festivals.

Marsh Green Methodist Chapel near Longdon-upon-Tern near Telford is among the smallest places of worship in the area and the church leaders have decided to call it a day due to a dwindled membership and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 60-seater chapel was built in 1841 on a piece of land which cost just £4.20.

Lifelong Marsh Green Methodist Chapel member and steward Mary Evans

It saw generations of leaders running its once popular Sunday School along with other well-attended activities including Christmas services, anniversaries, ploughman’s suppers, harvest festivals, cream teas and plays based on Bible stories.

Its last event, which was the Christmas Eve carol service in 2019, attracted a packed house.

But unfortunately due to the pandemic its three remaining regular members have not been able to gather and a decision was taken to shut during lockdown in February.

Marsh Green Methodist Sunday School in 1991

Sadly the fellowship which was being led by the Rev Chris Parkes, of the Wolverhampton & Shrewsbury Methodist District, was unable to hold a formal closing down service.

But lifelong church member and steward Mary Evans,who was christened there in 1943 was remaining upbeat.

Presentation to the late Ethel Picken for 70 years service in 1974.

Her family has been connected to the chapel for generations.

Miss Evans, 77, of Isombridge, said: “If it wasn’t for Covid we would have had a finishing service, but I think that would have made it sadder for me.

Organist Jim Powell served for more than 50 years service

“Both of my brothers Brian and Michael were quite active on the circuit.

“Brian passed away last June from cancer, but he did remark before he died that the pandemic may signal the end for the chapel.

Chapel steward Alison Evans with display boards of Sunday School events

“My great-grandfather had also been a local preacher.

“He lived on the family farm and in those days he would walk to neighbouring areas to lead Methodist services and return to the chapel for night prayer services. As part of its community outreach the chapel hosted social evenings and published a quarterly magazine.

Stuart and Helen Williams got married at the chapel in their wellies after battling through snowfall in December 2010

Due to its small size the first couple to tie the knot there were George and Anne Barnes in 2007 followed by Apley couple Stuart and Helen Williams in December 2010 who had no choice but to get married in their wellies after battling through heavy snowfall in a bid to make the ceremony on time. One guest at the wedding drove an armoured car to reach the Telford chapel while another guest walked for four miles through the snow.

1991 Commemorative plate

The bricks to build the chapel were transported by horse and cart from a brickyard once situated in Longdon-upon-Tern by a team including the grandfather of late member Ethel Picken.

A special plate was designed to mark its 160th anniversary in 1991.

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