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Article written by Alec Barber, Ruishton

I feel sure that I was wrong when I said that at least five of the original thirteen founder members in 1831 were unable to sign their names and “made their mark”. The crosses in a shaky hand were added later to indicate those members who had died.

The first indication of missionary interest is in 1880, when a Miss Smith was appointed Baptist Missionary Society Secretary for the church. At the end of that year, Mrs Gardiner was requested to “give us the Nativity on Xmas Day”.

Early in 1887 it was resolved that “the preachers who have the  cab to their house to be spoken to about it”. Presumably it was thought extravagant. Some years later, in 1894, the church agreed to pay the drivers.

In early 1919 a deficit on church funds of £7.0s.21/4d was put down to “Horse hire for the older men who so nobly supplied the pulpit during a year of the Great War”.

The shadow of the first World War falls across the pages of the Church books in other ways. The “first collection of eggs for our wounded soldiers and sailors was taken up on March 14th (1915) and realised……..847”.

In September 1916 the church meeting discussed the “Darkening Order” in the chapel. It was Mr R.G.Somerville who unveiled the war memorial tablet in the chapel on 5th September 1920 when a collection was taken in aid of St. Dunstans, instead of the Children’s Famine Fund of Europe, as had first been proposed.

It seems that the unseemly rivalry between church and chapel – which also dictated which butcher you went to – issued in a race for the first to erect a War Memorial.

The first reference to the letting of the chapel schoolroom to the village school for cookery lessons occurs in a minute of a meeting held on 10th October 1906 and, of course, such arrangements continued for many years. .

Article copyright Alec Barber of Ruishton, May 2011