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Kingswood Wesleyan Chapel / Steps School of Dance

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What: Wesleyan Chapel, later dance school.
Where: Kingswood, Gloucestershire
Built: 1843
Architect: Unknown
Abandoned: c. 2003
Listed: Grade II
Visited: 2010, 2011, 2014
Last Known Condition: Derelict ruin, increasingly
  unsafe and overgrown with vegetation.
Page Updated: November 2014

The state of Kingswood Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is a sign of the times. In a town where John Wesley preached to the region's coal miners and established the famous Kingswood Schools for the sons of poor ministers and coal miners, it stands derelict; damp, cold, broken and unroofed by arson. Religion in Bristol as in many cities continues to undergo massive upheval and churches, many of which didn't have a full congregation even when built, are struggling to find congregations large enough to stay open. The legacy of that Nineteenth century fervour which saw hundreds of churches of all denominations spring up in the growing city suburbs and outliers and a subsequent century of almost unprecedented social, religious and populational change has been a rash of redundant churches.

Looking up from the graveyard
Looking up from the graveyard

Wall texture
Wall texture

''He went thataway''
He went thataway!

[click images below to expand & enlarge]

Gate piers, Two-Mile Hill Road From afar North end Dance school sign Main door Stairs to gallery Interior Interior Window with stained glass Former vestry converted for ballet use, remains of mirror wall extreme left Under the floor Beeston boiler Graveyard

Kingswood Wesleyan Chapel was established in 1843 by the congregation which had formerly met in Wesley's Kingswood School as a direct response to plans to relocate the school to Bath (which finally happened in 1851). The foundation and building of the new chapel were largely driven by local businessmen Samuel Budget and Daniel Flook: the chapel was built in the northeast corner of a large plot between Blackhorse and Waters Roads and had seats for nine hundred, access was originally via a long drive emerging between Nos 368 (now a kebab shop) and 370 Two Mile Hill Road (a solicitors), the gate piers of which can still be seen. A Wesleyan School was added to the south of the building in 1850, followed later by an infant school to the south of that (this later became a meeting room) while the rest of the land was used for burials. In 1978, following lengthy discussions and negotiations the congregation joined with that of the nearby Zion United Free Methodist Church. The building later found use as a dance school while the old school became a snooker club. By 2004, however both buildings were standing empty and in July the chapel suffered an arson attack which destroyed nearly all of its internal fixtures. The nearby Wesleyan school and hall were converted to apartments in 2009 but plans to renovate the derelict chapel and convert it into 14 apartments were put on hold indefinitely due to planning concerns and a slump in the housing market. The state of the site including the burial ground has recently been the subject of investigations by the local council, who have as a result served the owner with various notices and fines, unfortunately to no avail.

Epilogue, 2014

A parcel of the site, comprising the chapel, access road and the portion of the graveyard lying to the east, was put up for auction in November 2014. It is expected that the building will be converted to flats. The future of the rest of the site, including the wesleyan cemetery, remains uncertain.

Source: Jenkins, T., Religion in English Everyday Life: an Ethnographic Approach, Oxford: Berghahn. pp. 105-107


The Derelict Miscellany: website and all content © D. A. Gregory unless stated to be otherwise.