Chipping Norton

There is evidence of Wesleyans worshipping in Chipping Norton from about 1790. At first they met in a building at the back of Victoria Place, behind Beadles the butchers in Spring Street. In 1796 a chapel was built in Distons Lane.

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Attendance at the evening service at the time of the Religious Census in 1851 had risen to about 280 and in 1868 a new chapel was built in West Street on the site of a former public house, with seating for 315 people. The Distons Lane chapel was sold to the Primitive Methodists, including an adjacent burials area. (Some of the gravestones can still be seen from Distons Lane.)
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Primitive Methodist worship continued here until, following Methodist Union in 1932, the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist societies amalgamated; Distons Lane chapel was sold and converted into two private dwellings.

In 1906 the rose window behind the West Street pulpit was put in. It was dedicated to Josiah Nix, the connexional evangelist who lived in Oxford, and was donated by his brother James Nix, costing the princely sum of 14 Guineas. The schoolroom that was added behind the church was used a great deal, especially during World War II, when it was an open house for members of the Forces. It was sold in 1985 and became a physiotherapist's clinic.

The church itself was extensively redecorated and refurbished in the 1940s. Downstairs there was a stage complete with footlights, on which the Methodist Players regularly performed in pantomine, but with careful censoring of references to alcoholic beverages. In 1973 the Methodist Players amalgamated with the Nortonian Amateur Dramatic Society.

The other major redevelopment occurred in 1985, when for a few months services were held in the Town Hall. The pews were replaced by seats, giving much greater flexibility. The pulpit was lowered and relocated. Downstairs the kitchen was completely renovated and two Junior Church classrooms were formed.