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The Missions in the “Boroughs” of Northampton

In the 19th century, despite there being numerous well-established churches of many denominations around the periphery of Northampton’s “Boroughs”, the area was well served by additional premises for Sunday schools, social outreach and worship services. Judging by the many press reports over the years all of these ventures were well supported by the local community often leading to enlargement or improvement of the premises. The Scarletwell Methodist Mission was the earliest (1840) and most successful continuing until 1958.

Mission chapels in Northampton's "Boroughs"
Mission chapels in Northampton’s “Boroughs”

Scarletwell Methodist Mission (Wesleyan Methodist)

Scarletwell Methodist Mission (demolition 1960)

Started as an outreach from Todds Lane (later known as Regents Square) Methodist chapel

1840 Wesleyan Ragged School established by Mrs Miller from Todds Lane Wesleyan chapel in her husband’s grocery shop at the lower end of Scarletwell Street.

1865 A hall was acquired as a Mission Hall. In the “shape of a barn with elongated ecclesiastical windows”.

1880s Preaching services commenced.

1885 Premises enlarged.

1890 The school had outgrown the building. Started to rent a room above a shop and old stables on the Mayorhold.

1891 Started fundraising to purchase the Mayorhold site and rebuild larger premises.

1902 Purchased the properties at nos. 86-88 Scarletwell Street next to the mission. Rather than rebuild the cottages they were converted to classrooms and remained in use until closure in 1958.

1902 Abandoned the idea of building new on the Mayorhold site but several trustees and donors withdrew their funds. Those that remained reformed as the “Scarletwell Methodist Mission”.

1937 The trustees considered a request from the Education Committee to purchase the Mission which backed onto Spring Lane School and also had an entrance at the side of the mission. This did not go further as suitable alternative premises for the mission were not offered.

1937 Later in 1937 the Education Committee offered Spring Lane Baptist School but that was unsuitable.

1951 “Service of dedication at Scarletwell Mission” after refurbishment. [Northampton C&E, 30 Nov 1951]

1958 The Scarletwell Mission closed and the work transferred to Regents Square Methodist Church which was renamed Central Methodist Church.

1960 (16 July) Scarletwell Mission was demolished having been acquired by the council for £1000.

Free Gospel Mission, Mayorhold (Non-denominational)

Free Gospel Mission, The Mayorhold

1903 The group that broke away from the Scarletwell Methodist Mission built its mission on the Mayorhold and was known as “Free Gospel Mission”. “Nos. 27, 28, and 29, the Mayorhold, have been purchased from Mr E R. Cooper, of Kingsley Park” [Northampton Mercury, 3 Apr 1903].

Free Gospel Mission, built c. 1904

It ceased religious services in the 1940s.

1946 It was leased by The Boys’ Brigade and renamed Brigade House.

1956 The freehold was purchased by The Boys’ Brigade.

1963 The building was demolished and a new Training Centre built in 1964 and extended in 1975 and 1981. It is now the home of the Kingdom Life Church.

St. Katherine’s Mission room, Scarletwell Street (Church of England)

Outreach from St Katherine’s parish church, St Katherines Street.

1875 A meeting was held in connection with a “new mission room in Scarletwell Street. [Northampton Mercury, 9 October 1875]

1878-1928 “St. Katherine’s Mission-room, Scarletwell-street” [Northampton Mercury]

Castle Street Mission Hall, Castle Street (Congregational 1891-1907, Church of England 1908 onwards)

Outreach from Doddridge (Castle Hill) Church until 1907 and then from 1908 taken on by St Katherine’s parish church as a second mission room.

1889 Mission room hired in Bristol Street.
1890 New mission room built in Castle Street and leased for 7 years.
1891 “Opening Services of the new Doddridge Mission Hall in Castle-street” [Northampton Chronicle and Echo, 29 September 1891]
1907 At a Church meeting on 1 January 1907 the minister Rev W Pierce reported “transference of the work of the Castle-street Mission to the church premises” [Northampton Mercury, 4 January 1907]
1908 At a fundraising event for the Castle-street Mission Room the Vicar of St Katherines (Rev W. B. Sleight) proposed a vote of thanks … and spoke of “the good work that was being done at the Castle-street Mission Room. It was situated in a bad neighbourhood and was sorely in need of funds.” [Northampton Mercury, 6 November 1908]
1909 By 1909 the premises were being used by St Katherine’s church as a second mission. A fundraising event for St Katherine’s church refers to “Scarletwell-street and Castle-street Mission funds” [Northampton Mercury, 30 April 1909]

Spring Lane Baptist Sunday School

Outreach from College Street Baptist chapel.

1830s “The scholars first met in a room in the house of Mr Benjamin Bassford, a general dealer and beer retailer, in Compton Street” [History Colege Street Baptist Church, p111]
1840 The room in Compton Street registered as a place of worship.
1849 Purchased land and erected a school in nearby Spring Lane.
1866 “Sunday School in Spring Lane a Branch of College Street Sunday-school.” [Northampton Mercury, 20 October 1866]
1869 Alderman John Perry: “Having connected himself with the Church at College-street, he became in 1853 superintendent of the branch Sunday school in Spring-lane, generally known as Compton-street Sunday school. Here he laboured with the greatest success for some 12 years, when he was compelled reluctantly to give up the work on account of his failing health” [Northampton Mercury, 1 May 1869]
1873 Buildings enlarged.
1879 An adjoining cottage was purchased.
1894 Further enlargements to the premises.

(With thanks to the contributors to this post: Ruth Thomas and Robert Moore.)

© Copyright : Graham Ward. All rights reserved.