It’s time for a bit of history. We are looking at a building erected in 1716. It was erected as the local Quaker Chapel – the Friends Meeting House. The dissenting Quakers were at their peak, locally, about then and, inevitably, they were sadly abused for their simple views and opinions.
But by the end of the 18th century they had faded away and could no longer justify their meeting house.
But at this time more Methodist like dissenters were in need of their own independent chapel and they were able to take over the old meeting house.
So by 1855 the Independent Chapel was well established. That was the year in which the Reverend Henry Atley produced his book with a rather long title. It was called ‘A Topographical Account of Market Lavington Wilts, Its Past and Present Condition also The Rise and Progress of the Independent Church in That Place and the Authentic History of David Saunders the Pious Shepherd of Salisbury Plain’. Oh, I almost forgot, ‘With Illustrations’.
By the time you got through that title you’d wonder there was any space left for text, let alone illustrations. But here is one of them, being the former Friends Meeting House and by then the Independent Chapel.
We are not convinced that the artist was all that spot on although, of course, we weren’t around in 1855 to really know. However modern photos have the side with the single large window lined up with the street and the many windowed side at right angles to it.
At the moment we are not planning to use the sketch in our ‘Paint and Pencil’ section at the Museum Miscellany on Saturday October 3rd but at least you can see it here.
Henry Atley was born in Romford in Essex, probably near the end of the 18th century. He was minister at this chapel from 1854 to 61.