Breaking the Mould. Stoke.

Bethesda Chapel

Dating from 1819 Bethesda was the largest Methodist chapels in England outside London, seating over 2000 people. It is known as the Cathedral of the Potteries. Brick with stuccoed facade. Organ in baroque case. Octagonal pulpit. Continuous raking gallery. Gallery unsafe - limited access. Seeking productive use. Open day once a month during summer.

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Bethesda Chapel

Photoshoot diary by Mary Wardle

10/03/09 BETHESDA CHAPEL 1798
CATHEDRAL OF THE POTTERIES
ALBION STREET, HANLEY

ORGAN-1856.
KIRKLAND AND JARDINE.
£750 TO INSTALL.

Names - organ stops:
CHOIR TO PEDAL
SWELL TO PEDAL
GREAT TO PEDAL
SWELL TO GREAT
SWELL TO CHOIR
CHOIR TO GREAT
OPEN DIAPSSON
VIOLONE
BOURDON
PRINCPLE
VIOLONCELLO
BASS FLUTE
SWELL OCTAVE
SWELL SUBOCT
BOURDON 16
OPEN DIAPSON 8
GEDACKT 8
VIOL DORCHESTRE 8
VIOX CELESTES 8
GEMSHORN 4
LIEBLICHFLUTE 4
FIFTEENTH 2
CORNOPEAN 8
OBOE 8
TREMULENT
SW OCT TO GREAT
SW SUBOCT TO GT
FIFTEENTH 3
TWELFTH 2 2/3
PRINCIPAL 4
STOPPER DIAPASON 8
HOHLFLOTE 8
SMALL OPEN DIAP 8
BOURDON 16
CHOIR UNISON OFF
CHOIR SUB ACT
CLARINET 8
FLAGEOLET 2
FLUTE 4
DULCIANNA 8
STOPPED DIAPASON 8
GAMBA 8
TRUMPET 8

Just the four of us today. At its height the chapel held up to 3000 people - all with a stake in the building and salvation, each member paying for his seat in the ranked and raked pews.

Pulpit - a power-tower. Commanding presence - commitment to faith, belief and status. Trestle tables arranged like a skirt around the dark wood of the pulpit, covered with curtains keeping off the dust hide a catholic collection of items - lavender talcum powder, lace doilies, children's clothes, a doll, cups and saucers, decorative items of china, glass fruit dishes, books - bring and buy items left over from fundraising for the chapel.

30 - 40 people when the chapel closed in 1986. Room full or organ pieces once full of children at their Sunday school studies. As the houses were and are still being 'cleared' from the centre of Hanley so the chapel's congregation was cleared out too.

Largest single span roofed Methodist Chapel - pine from Canada.

"Visitors from all over the world - Japan, America- with ancestors who worshiped in the chapel. Performance pieces made in the chapel by artists. The Tetley ladies from Nottingham came looking for their grandma's window. Eventually found in the museum along side a skull removed from the crypt vandals had broken into looking for jewellery. 'Seers' witness the ghost walking through the empty pews in the balcony. Sometimes music. Very committed keepers, believers and custodians but the chapel struggles to find a dynamic role in present day Hanley.

"Well done thou good and faithful servant." This window erected to the glory of God and in memory if Oliver Dyke J.P.

John Ridgway, son of a founder of Bethesda Chapel built a bank for the congregation to keep safe their hard earned cash.

 

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