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Craster Methodist Chapel - '100 Years On'


Craster Methodist Chapel
St Peter the Fisherman C of E Church
St Aidan's & St Paul's


The Centenary Story

It is not possible to pinpoint the date when Methodism - Primitive Methodism - first came to Craster, but one thing certain is that it was not later than the latter 1860s, its arrival linked with the crusading zeal of two men - Matthew Stephen­son, a local fisherman, and Charles Wood, a fisherman from Hauxley, near Amble.

In 1869, Stephenson, the story goes, was fishing out of the Tyne - the Craster fishermen of his day operating at times be­yond home waters - when, a singer himself, the Sankey hymns sung by men of the herring fleet - favourites, one may be sure, like "The ninety and nine," " When the mists have rolled away," " Faith is the victory " - so impressed him that on his return home he taught the hymns to his children, then to neighbouring children, so that before long his house had become a Sunday afternoon regular meeting place for children and parents alike.

Meanwhile, local preacher Wood had already made his mark, his activities recorded in the diary kept by Craster fisherman William Gibb Dawson and handed down to his great-grand­daughter, Miss Eva Archbold.

The brief diary entries which set the early scene show that between June 23, 1867, and December 11, 1870, the diarist's last reference to him, on at least ten occasions Charles Wood preached in Craster to large indoor and outdoor gatherings at which he was enthusiastically received. From Hauxley to support him came some of his brother fishermen - Henry Taylor, George Taylor, James Armstrong, and Thomas Oliver - men of the same Christian calibre as himself.

" Great reformation here," wrote diarist Dawson on March 13, 1870, the emphasis on revivalism and converts, on changing attitudes and habits, among them an upsurge in teetotalism. That reformation, that revivalism, went on in Craster throughout the '70s, and made telling impact on village life. An annual Whit Monday revivalist rally with tea on the grass at Dunstanburgh Castle - the special day in the year on which best china tea sets were produced by the ladies and transported thither in clothes-baskets - coincided with the annual Craster Feast, tradi­tionally held over Whit weekend. In later years - likely deterrents the walking distance and unpredictability of the weather - a pity in a way that the Dunstanburgh tea should have been discontinued and switched to the Chapel Sunday School room instead.

Back, however, to the Sunday afternoon meetings held in Stephenson's house, which stood, still stands, at 8 West End, at the entrance to the village, one of a row of houses skirting the roadway. Here, too, the first of the regular prayer meetings, which spread to other homes, among them those of Edward Dawson and Ralph Archbold, West End neighbours of the Stephensons.

The Centenary Story

Old Craster

Decision to Build

Stone Laying

First Wedding

60 Years Organist


Childhood Memories

Exit Oil Lamps

Last Trustees

Act of Faith

Seahouses Circuit Ministers
1880 to 1980

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