History of the Church
After John Wesley first preached in Macclesfield in 1745 Methodism in the area began to grow. People started to worship in homes and in 1806 there was sufficient support to acquire some land and build a Chapel. Twelve trustees, including 4 local men were appointed and built the current Chapel in 1808 at a cost of £700.
Lower Withington Methodist Chapel was officially opened on Easter Sunday in 1808 with a dedication service conducted by Dr Newton.
Stables were built at the rear of the Chapel for the convenience of those driving to worship. The Chapel had box pews which were rented to families until the 1940’s. At this stage the Chapel was used as both a Day School and a Sunday School. The Day School closed in 1876 when the new National Church of England School opened.
|The first person was buried in the graveyard in 1813 the graveyard was extended in 1870’s and again more recently in 2017.
|The Band is still an integral part of the Chapel and a book on its history was created for the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Chapel. In 1856 the Missionary Society were asking for donations for their work abroad, and the Chapel decided to go out carol singing to raise some money.
|After a few years a brass band accompanied the singers. The brass band has continued ever since, with hospitality from various families at Christmas. The only year they were unable to turn out was in 1967 due to Foot and Mouth.
In 1893 the Chapel was modified, the floor in the Singers' gallery was levelled and closed off with panelling and glass, designed so that it could be removed if required.
|Today this area can be used by the Band if playing in a service. The box pews were removed and the present pews put in along with a new pulpit and two outside porches were built over the existing doors. In 1898 the Chapel was registered for Weddings.
|In 1899 the first pipe organ was installed at a cost of £100. In 1957 the original pipe organ was replaced by a larger one from a Church in Levenshulme and various fund raising events were organised such as a bowls evening, clay pigeon shoot, coffee evening, garden party and a variety concert by the Guild.
|The congregation appreciated the pipe organ music so much that in circa 2000 they raised enough money to purchase a pipe organ from another Church and had it refitted into the Chapel.
So today we can still enjoy the wonderful music played by the organists and we have even included technology to enable the organ to play itself through the pipes.
In April 1908 they celebrated the Centenary and a special nickel plated key was commissioned. A new Sunday School room was built over the existing stables, which was opened later in 1908. In 1927 the Wesley Guild was started and in the first year had 42 members, this built up to 60 members in the late 1960’s. Various social events, dances and concerts were organised by the Guild.
During the 2nd World War two stray bombs were dropped close to the Chapel and the building sustained some damage. The stained glass windows were blown out and shrapnel damaged some of the pews. Two of the rear pews still bear the scars today.
In 1958 an outdoor Civic Service was held to celebrate the 150th Anniversary and the singing was led by the band.
After the 175th Anniversary modifications were made including converting the old stables into two extra rooms in 1982 and the redesign of the forecourt of the Chapel in 1985.
In 1994 a major remodelling took place inside the Chapel. The wooden floor was replaced by concrete and the panelling was removed from the walls. It was fascinating to discover the base of the old pulpit. The communion area was enlarged, a new heating system was installed, the floor carpeted and the pews were made free standing. 400 hours of voluntary labour by members helped the project to fruition.
In the year leading up to the 200th Anniversary in 2008, willing volunteers again made great improvements to the premises. The two back rooms were made into a comfortable church lounge, the back vestry was transformed with a new kitchen area and a meeting area for the children.