History - The Second Chapel - Part 1
The New Chapel
In 1860, some sixty four years after the opening of their first Chapel the Knutsford (Wesleyans) Methodists recognized that they had grown to a size of membership (around 80-strong) which demanded a larger building - and, to accommodate it, a new and larger site. Accordingly they set to work, their first task being to find and buy a suitable plot of land.
But, as in the case of the first chapel, obstacles and difficulties interposed themselves. The railway company acquired the first plot selected.
Then, when a good site at the South end of Princess Street was located, it emerged that its sale was already in progress, as the intended site for a Roman Catholic church. Unexpectedly, this project failed but then a further obstacle was encountered when the owner of the land, Peter Legh, Squire of Over Knutsford, appeared to change his mind about selling at all. It was not until
the intervention of one Ann Beswick, both a Christian and an outstanding character in the town in her day, that he relented ...
"Ann, I can refuse you nothing."
... not only selling a 1,237 square yards plot but also donating handsomely to the building fund.
The price agreed was £319, and Mr. W. G. Caldwell, owner of a local flower nursery, immediately provided the required 10% deposit. Even then, the conveyancing proved far from straightforward, causing continuing anxiety and theneed to pursue the matter in London during a sequence of frustrating delays.
The Laying of the Foundation Stone
On Wednesday, 25th May, 1864, the foundation stone on the new site was laid. It was a fine day and several hundred people assembled in Princess Street as Mr. Thomas Hazlehurst of Runcorn, notably involved in previous chapel building projects, performed the laying ceremony. Teachers and pupils of the Sunday School also took part.
After assembling in the Old Market Place and singing hymns, the people marched in procession, still singing, to Princess Street, headed by the Chairman of the District, Rev. Samuel Simpson. The Chairman conducted the service, and the address was given by the Rev. W. R. Williams. This address, on vellum, along with other documents (the Watchman, the Methodist Recorder, the Macclesfield Courier and the Manchester Guardian, a Circuit Plan and several coins of the realm), were deposited in a cavity in the corner-stone.
Afterwards, about four hundred people sat down to tea in a large room over Mr. Wood's implement warehouse, Heath Side, which was beautifully decorated with a profusion of laurel from Tatton Gardens and flowers from the nursery of Mr. Caldwell.