Rewlach is the name of a farm house which was the home of the Shirley family for many generations. One of this family, William Shirley (1834 - 1903) was the inspiration behind this Methodist Heritage web site. He would have been in his mid teens when Rewlach Chapel was built. He became one of the first Circuit Stewards of the Wetton and Longnor Circuit, and was a Trustee of many of the Circuit's Chapels.
The Chapel closed in 1999, when the reduced population of the area made it impossible to continue. In one part of the final service, we heard that as recently as the 1950's the Chapel had been well attended, with the congregation including some 15 to 20 young men sitting on the back row.
It was my prviledge a few years previously to take the Harvest Festival service. The chapel was full, but immediately after the service everyone left the building. I was reassured when I found the people outside, talking for the next hour, and enjoying the autumn sunshine.
Extracts from J B Dyson, "Methodism in the Leek Circuit" 1853 (Leek Wesleyan Centenary Book)
Mrs. Mary Shirley was the means of carrying Methodism to this place. In 1785 or 6, she heard Mr. Thomas Warwick preach at Longnor. He took his stand on a horse-block, which faced the Market place. The owner of the block objected to its use for such a purmse, but overcome by the kind and benignant manner of the Preacher, he suffered him to proceed. It seems a good impression was made on Mrs. Shirley's mind, and she with her family began to attend preaching at Brown Hill. Shortly after this, her son Joseph (late of Waterhouses,) united with the society. His example was soon followed by his Mother, who invited the Preachers to Rewlatch, and fitted up a room in an empty house which stood on the premises, for preaching. A Class was formed consisting of Mrs. Shirley, her son, and two others : Mr. Joseph Shirley was appointed the Leader. This was about 1789. An accident caused Mrs. Shirley to be confined to her room for many years, where, for her accommodation and profit, the Class used to be regularly met. Her holy and exemplary life was brought to a sudden termination in 1827, in the 78th year of her age.
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First draft August 2000