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Headington history: Non-listed buildings

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Methodist Chapel, Quarry High Street


Quarry Methodist Chapel

The Quarry Methodists were the first nonconformists in the whole of Headington to build their own place of worship in 1830. Their first proper chapel was in Trinity Road, and the Oxfordshire Religious Census of 1851 states that this chapel had 100 free sittings, and that on 30 March the general congregation was 4 in the morning and 25 in the afternoon, and in the evening the general congregation was 40.

Numbers grew, and Quarry's second, larger Methodist chapel in Quarry High Street (above) was opened on Whit Sunday 1860. An inscription over the top window at the side of the church (facing Chapel Alley) reads: “WESLEYAN / CHAPEL / MDCCCLIX” (with “ENLARGED 1931” added underneath later).

James Coppock was the man who brought Methodism to Quarry, and when he died in November 1863 he was buried in the narrow piece of ground behind the wall shown in the above picture. His flat gravestone reads:

THIS TABLET WAS PLACED HERE BY MEMBERS OF THIS [?CHAPEL]
IN MEMORY OF JAMES COPPOCK WHO DIED NOV XVI MDCCCLXIII

In 1863 a proper burial ground for all Quarry Methodists (below) was opened behind the chapel. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission takes care of one First World War grave in this churchyard, that of George Skey.

Burial ground of Quarry Methodist Church

Sunday School

 

In 1874 a Sunday School room with a red roof (right) was added on to the chapel. (The former chapel in Trinity Road, which had been used for the Sunday School since 1860, was then converted into dwelling houses.)

Below: Stone above the Sunday School porch reading: WESLEYAN SUNDAY SCHOOL 1874

Sunday School stone

With the growth of east Oxford following the expansion of the Cowley car works (and with the incoming workers including many Welsh chapel-goers), this chapel had to be enlarged in 1931: the work was done by the builder Arthur Vallis of Windmill Road at a cost of £1,500. Vallis, who “used to carry his dinner in a red handkerchief” was “a poor scholar as regards writing”, but was devoted to the cause of the chapel.

Quarry Methodist Chapel held its last service on 12 September 2004. The Cornerstone Christian Centre opened here in 2006, and in 2009 built a gallery in the church.


Background to the development of Methodism in Quarry

The blocking of the old funeral path from Quarry to St Andrew’s Church by Joseph Lock, the owner of Bury Knowle House, was the primary reason why the people of Headington Quarry turned their back on the Anglican church and embraced Methodism. James Palmer, curate of St Andrew’s, wrote to the Bishop of Oxford in 1805, “The inhabitants of Quarry now say that as they are to be deprived of their funeral path, they will not come to Church at all, but intend to have a Methodist preacher come to them.” Four men of Quarry (James Coppock, Robert Coppock, Henry Morris, and James Varney) initially arranged for a Methodist Minister to come to James Coppock’s house next to the Six Bells.

Over the next twenty years numbers grew, and the Quarry Methodists, despite being humble labourers, succeeded in raising the money for a proper chapel, which was opened in Trinity Road on Easter Sunday 1830. Its foundation stone (below) was preserved, and stands inside the present chapel.

Quarry Methodist Foundation Stone

Nineteen years later Thomas Burrows said that the Methodists were getting “too strong” when he donated the stone for the building of Quarry’s Church of England church, Holy Trinity. (This ploy evidently did not work, as in 1860 the Methodists needed to build an even bigger chapel, shown at the top of this page and in the old engraving below.)

Methodist Chapel, Quarry

Robert Coppock, one of the founders, lived into the 1860s, and “continued to attend this place of worship in his Smock Frock until he died … he was rather rough in his appearance but his Heart was right and very loyal”.


The house opposite the Methodist Chapel

The Yews

Above: The Yews, which stood opposite the Methodist Chapel in Quarry High Street, was built by the family of Bill Coppock, who has kindly supplied this picture. In 1868 the Coppocks bought the land adjacent to the house and ran a small holding/market garden there until 1963, when the house was demolished and replaced by four terraces houses facing Quarry High Street. Coppock Close was built behind in its market garden.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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