Shebbear, Devon

Click to enlarge

A remote and rural parish in north-west Devon which in BC tradition became their equivalent of Epworth. Lake Farm near Shebbear village was the home of the Thorne family. The support they gave to William O'Bryan and his newly formed denomination ensured its survival and growth. James Thorne succeeded O'Bryan as its leader and his brother Samuel became the denomination's printer. A chapel was built on the farm in 1818 (rebuilt 1841 and known as Ebenezer from then on; enlarged and refurbished 1958). Its burial ground is the denomination's Valhalla. Samuel built Prospect House on the farm as a home and printing works; contemporary plans and pamphlets bear the Shebbear imprint. In the 1830s he and his wife Mary O'Bryan began a school for local children there, which is now Shebbear College. Eight BC Conferences were held at Shebbear between 1821 and 1868, by which time the movement had developed from a folk religion to a denomination.

  • J.B. Morris, Recollections of a Country Schoolmaster (1986)