Free Church worship in Bathampton dates back well beyond living memory to a group of Christians, meeting in a home behind Chapel Row. From the early twentieth-century, a later group gathered each week for worship around a billiard table in the old barn on Bathampton Lane, curtesy of the world-famous Harbutt’s Plasticine. Eventually, land was donated, funds were raised and the first Chapel was built at the top of Down Lane, now the site of the Scout Hut, becoming known locally as ‘the little Church on the hill’. By the 1960s, the congregation had outgrown the building and so a new Chapel was built on land given in the centre of the village, in Holcombe Lane, and was opened in 1972.
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Bathampton Methodist Church – 90th Anniversary
On 15 July, 2018 we celebrated the anniversary of Bathampton Methodist Church. The first Methodist Church in Bathampton was opened in July 1928 – at the top of Down Lane, formerly known as ‘the little Church on the hill’ nestling at the foot of the Downs. You can read the story in the history section of the website. In 1972 the new Chapel was built in its present position in the centre of the village.
In honour of the anniversary, the Church had been bedecked in blue and gold with a balloon arch of more than 100 balloons surrounding the entrance. The service, led by the minister, the Revd Elizabeth Kirova celebrated the occasion and included a solo by Kelvin Thomas. He had been a boy of eight when he attended the opening of the Church and, then at ninety-eight, was the oldest member.
During the service a new lectern fall, made by the village Banner Group, was presented and dedicated – its design: a simple silver cross with the Methodist symbol of the orb and cross, signifying Christ for the world, at the centre, against a shining blue background.
The service was followed by a ‘Bring and Share’ lunch with an anniversary cake, made by the multi-talented minister, which was topped with an edible picture of the Church. After lunch children’s games and entertainment culminated in a dance display by friends from the Bulgarian Dance Group, led by Ani Yurukova, who practise in the Church hall. The children of the group danced first and then the adults, after which members of the audience were invited to join in – an exhilarating finale to a memorable occasion, as all present wished the Church, ‘A Happy 90th Birthday’.