This atmospheric picture of a country chapel on a grey winter day is of Lumbutts Methodist Church, Todmorden, which has just celebrated its 175th anniversary.
The church was founded in 1837 – the year Queen Victoria came to the throne – as an offshoot of the Methodist church at nearby Mankinholes following disagreements in the wider Methodist Church. About half of Mankinholes’ 139 members defected and built a new chapel and Sunday school at Lumbutts, “12 yards square”, in which the scholars occupied the “chapel bottom” while the congregation sat in raised pews on each side. The new church opened on July 9 1837.
As the church prospered it outgrew its premises and the present building was opened in 1878 on the site of the old and using some of the materials of the first chapel. The Mankinholes church, founded in 1814, closed in 1979 and was demolished, although most of the adjoining Sunday school survives as a private house.
The Lumbutts faithful celebrated the 175th anniversary with a weekend of special events, including a joyful anniversary service led by the Rev Steven Wild, now chairman of Cornwall Methodist District, but whose family has long been connected with Lumbutts. The service included a special presentation of a certificate to Mary Webster (pictured), a member of the church for 75 years.
The church put on one of its famous teas – a monthly event during the summer months – with a special cake before an evening Songs of Praise service. There was also an extensive exhibition of paintings, photographs, church documents and other memorabilia collected over the years.
This little country chapel, which has a collection of stained glass windows inherited from other, now closed, churches in the area, also boasts two unique features. One is an enormous organ, known as the Old Lady of Lumbutts, which fills a corner of the church. The century-old organ was restored in the 1980s at a cost of £11,500 and the church celebrated with a festival in which as many as nine organists took part.
The chapel’s other treasure is a wooden lectern (pictured) which was used for many years at Remembrance Day services at the Cenotaph in London. Prime Ministers, including Sir Winston Churchill and Clement Atlee, read from it on many occasions. When it was due to be replaced it was saved by a secretary at the Foreign Office, Iris Greening, who was allowed to keep it. In the 1980s she gave the lectern to the chapel in memory of her brother and a local doctor who are both buried at Lumbutts Church.