Memories of an Essex Minister, by S.R. Appleby, continued.
The writer's father travelled a lot to preach - on foot, sailing or rowing, or by pony and trap.
East Mersea Chapel
Evidence exists that there was a building for Dissenters' worship in East Mersea in 1640 - and by 1772 a preacher from a Particular Baptist Church in Colchester was visiting the place as a 'free preacher'. The 'Top Chapel' in West Mersea had its beginnings around 1800 as an association of Baptists and Independents and is still there today. Records of the Strict Baptist Chapel in East Mersea date from 1803. The writer's father took over the oversight of this little chapel from 1899 until illness laid him aside in 1920.
The little place of worship was capable of seating about sixty persons, weather-boarded outside and plastered within. Three heavy rough-hewn oak beams stretched across the width, with supporting members holding a tiled roof. The building stood on a brick plinth. Two shuttered windows looked out to the south, and two heavy pine baulks leaned against the chapel entrance on the south side, to prevent the cottage on the north side from pushing the little chapel over. A much worm-eaten pupil stood in the east end, with an old pendulum clock on a shelf just behind the preacher.
The chapel was set in a pretty spot where a little group of old-world cottages clustered at the foot of a hill, and field-paths met the road called Meeting Lane. It would seem that the property actually belonged to the farm in whose fields it stood.
Two water colours of the chapel, with a few letters and minutes of the Church, are with the Strict Baptist Historical Society Museum at Fulham.
Mr F.G. Smith was the pastor preceding the writer's father [of the Meeting Lane Chapel]. Both men were very close friends. "Father took the oversight of the chapel in 1899, maintain a faithful witness to the Gospel truths of Free and Sovereign grace for over twenty years. Numbers dwindled as one and another died, until the last years of his ministry when some 10 or 12 folk around were constrained to attend, though none joined in membership.
Nature and time were left to write demolition on the once spiritual home of many that have passed on...
From an unknown publication. Page 2 of 2.
Alan Smith comments March 2015:
The article suggests that he took over in 1899 but this is not quite accurate. George Frederick certainly became pretty ill in late 1898 and wrote to his friends at "The Little Church of God assembled at East Mersea Baptist Church" asking that they agree to George Appleby helping out while he was ill. Some of the "Friends", including George Frederick's wife, wrote accordingly to George Appleby in February 1899. (The letters and my transcripts of them are in my Book)
We have George Frederick's notebooks recording all the services he took for 1900 and 1901 but not those for 1899. It is clear that he preached at East Mersea or elsewhere every week throughout 1900 and 1901 so he must have recovered somewhat after his 1899 illness. His last service was 12th January, 1902.