Coleman hunting in Wolverhampton – Day 1
We started at Wolverhampton City Archives:
We knew that Dr Edward Hayling Coleman (1794-1871) was also a Wesleyan preacher and that The preacher at the last service in Noah’s Ark Chapel in 1825 [where his (short lived) sons Edward and Edward Hayling were baptised] was Dr Edward Hayling Coleman.
Jane found this at the City Archives, in CENTENARY OF DARLINGTON ST. METHODIST CHURCH – L2871
Noah’s Ark Chapel.
From 1765 to 1781 Wolverhampton formed part of the Staffordshire Circuit; for the next ﬁve years it was incorporated in the Birmingham Circuit but with the erection of Noah’s Ark Chapel, Wolverhampton became an independent circuit, …
For a long while Wesley’s converts must have met for worship in private houses. On March 28th, 1787, Wesley records that he opened the new house in Wolverhampton, nearly as large as that at Newcastle on-Tyne. It would not near contain the people, though they were wedged together as close as possible.
This house became known as Noah’s Ark Chapel on account of its nearness to a public house called Noah’s Ark, off Wheeler’s Fold in Lichﬁeld Street, and was the home of Methodism in Wolverhampton for 37 years.
The chapel itself, though a solid square building, barely sufficed to accommodate 500 people; and, after a generous collection contributed on one occasion, the celebrated Rev. John Newton preaching there, bade the congregation get out of “that nasty dirty place.” The sight and smell of the manure heaps of the surrounding inn yards must have given point to this very pointed admonition. But where was the congregation to go?
Darlington Street had just been opened up and named after the Earl of Darlington, to whom much of the land thereabout appertained. There were plent of sites available, and opinion was unanimous that the ground uponn which the present chapel stands was the most eligible spot. There was some dificulty, however, in acquiring a plot for the feeling of the Church people in the town was decidedly averse to the Methodists, and inﬂuence would have been used used to prevent the acquirement of land for erecting a new preaching-place, had the intention been made public. With a little diplomacy, however, the obstacle was surmounted.The land in question had been purchased from the Earl Darlington by Richard Fryer, a banker who was a Church- man, but who did not ﬁnd his churchmanship incompatible with driving a good bargain even with the Methodists. A member of the Noah’s Ark Society named Thomas Hancher, a shoemaker, of Salop Street, was deputed to interview the gentleman, to ascertain if he would part with the land. Hancher had to declare the purpose for which he required it, and Fryer declared himself willing to sell. As the price demanded was high, Hancher had to consult his friends, the offer being kept open for that purpose. At a subsequent interview with Messrs. Coleman and Perks the bargain was completed, Fryer agreeing to sell the land for the purpose of erecting a Methodist Chapel thereon, for ﬁve shillings per square yard. A deposit of ﬁve shillings was paid down to conﬁrm the bargain. An agreement was subsequently drawn up, which took the form of a lease for a year at a peppercorn rent, and a regular conveyance followed. The site contained 1,583 square yards, with a frontage to Darlington Street of 69 feet, and cost £396. No sooner was the fact noised abroad in the town than zealous Church people, full of wrath at the idea, endeavored to dissuade Mr. Fryer from completing the sale. In vain they plied him with argument, but he heeded them not: and when his interviewers pointed out the ill effects of permitting a conventicle to be built on his land, he is said to have made the forcible reply that if he got money he didn’t care if the devil had the land.
It was, as usual in those days, square in shape, 60 feet long, 55 feet wide, with a gallery all round. The pulpit was octagonal, and together with the reading desk, of solid mahogany. The chapel was lighted by gas, then lately introduced into the town, standards used being about three feet high, attached to the edge of the pews.
The trustees included Robert Perks, John Perks, Dr. E. H. Coleman, Richard Tyrer, and Messrs. Glover and Bradney.
The capacity of the chapel was taxed to the utmost on each of the opening days, as so many sympathisers came from far and near to participate in the rejoicings.
In 1826 Dr E.H. Coleman preached for the first time.
In the afternoon we checked out Wheeler’s Fold, where the Noah’s Ark Chapel was, behind the pubs, but no sign of it remains:
Then on to the Darlington St. Methodist Church, which replaced the first one on that site in 1899.
On the demolition of the‘Old Darlington Street Chapel, the Brass Plate was discovered in the foundations at the north-east corner of the original building. It was embedded in a “ foundation stone,” with a similar stone covering it. The actual stones and brass plate are preserved in the wall of the Minister’s Vestry in the church.
Jane rang the door bell and we found the plaque, rescued from the original Methodist church there – which acknowledges our Edward Hayling Coleman as a trustee in 1824: