History of Church & Sunday School

Researched, collected and collated by Mark Brooks


The First Church

The first Methodist Church in Fareham, called a Chapel, was located opposite the Westbury Museum. It was converted from 2 cottages by a splinter group of the Congregational Church, led by the Rev. William Fox. The Chapel was bought by the Wesleyan Methodists in 1812. The Chapel had a gallery. (Photograph courtesy of Glenn Butler - with thanks)

When it was converted into the Alexander Theatre the outside was still recognisable as a Chapel until it was rebuilt in 1923.

William Randal Cremer won the Nobel Peace prize in 1903. He was a Sunday School teacher until he went to work in London in 1852. His mother, Harriet Cremer was probably a founder member of the Fareham Wesleyan Church. His Sister, Ellen was a founder member of the Sunday School in 1859. She was the 2nd wife of William James Pyle. She could remember being carried in her mother's arms to the Chapel. Local printer Thomas Mansell made an unsuccessful attempt to restart the Sunday School in the early 1850's.

A meeting was held in the Chapel vestry on Wednesday 19th January 1859 for the purpose of establishing a new Sunday School.

At the meeting, Albion Dodge was appointed Sunday School Superintendent. He arrived in Fareham during the summer of summer of 1858 from east Coker in Somerset. William James Pyle was appointed Sunday School Secretary. Born in Catherington, he also arrived in Fareham during the summer of 1858. John Whittington of Titchfield was appointed Treasurer.

One teacher appointed that day was Kezia Newman who married Edward Pyle in 1861. He ran the Temperance Hotel on the corner of Trinity Street & Osborn Road. Notice the same shield that was on the chapel. The other teachers appointed not already mentioned were Miss Elyett & Miss Weeks.

The Sunday School opened on Sunday 30thJanuary 1859.

Attending the morning school at 9.30 were 7 teachers and just 3 children. Throughout the day the streets of Fareham were searched and at the 2 o'clock school they had 13 children. Around the time the Sunday School was restarted the future of the Chapel was bleak. it was in debt, for sale and the congregation was low. Very few baptisms were taking place. None in 1852, 1 in 1853 & 54, none in either 1856 or 57, 1 in 1858 & none in 1859 or 60.

All 8 of Albion Dodge's children attended the Sunday School. His daughter, Louisa, a Missionary doctor, was a teacher in the Sunday School in 1944.

The arrival of Messrs Dodge and Pyle had a profound effect at the Chapel. They motivated the congregation into removing the debt and both Chapel and Sunday School began to flourish. For example there were 16 baptisms in 1866

In 1865 the Rev. Daniel Draper preached at the Chapel a couple of times. He was over here representing Australia at Conference On Wednesday 6th September he was present at a bazaar and tea to raise funds for the repair and painting of the Chapel.

He returned to reopen the Chapel before his ill-fated departure back to Australia.

The building to the left of the chapel was purchased for the purpose of enlarging the church building. However, according to a flyer printed at the time....

"It has long been felt that the Wesleyan Chapel and School in this beautiful and growing Town have been inconvenient, unattractive and unworthy of the positions and responsibilities of such a body of Christians as the Wesleyan Methodists."

 The Second Chapel

On Monday 13th July 1874 the Memorial Stones of the new Chapel were laid. It was situated opposite the closed Woolworths shop.

The Sunday School was on the lower floor underneath the main building, which was a decorated Gothic style with a wagon headed roof and it had cathedral tinted glass in the windows.

On Thursday 6th May 1875 the new Wesleyan Chapel was opened by the Rev. W. Morley Pushon, President of the Conference. It had the capacity of about 500.

On Tuesday 13th July 1880 the Sunday Schools of Fareham celebrated the centenary of Robert Raikes establishing the Sunday School movement. 1550 children marched from Osborn Road to the parish Church. The Wesleyan Sunday School carried a banner of purple and gold and bannerettes with "The Bible, our Guide" and "Onward and Upward" and similar text. At the turn of the century there was an average of 1 infant baptism a month at the chapel.

Under the guidance of Mr. Dodge (Mr. Pyle had retired to Lee-on­-the-Solent and was involved in the establishment and running of the Methodist Church there.) the Sunday School grew and it became necessary to provide new buildings to accommodate the numerous children. Seven old terrace cottages to the rear of the chapel were purchased and demolished to provide the land to build on.

On Wednesday 10th August 1904 the memorial stone laying for the new Sunday School buildings took place. White brick was used with stone dressing and the total cost was £3,100. 00. The opening ceremony took place on Wednesday 1St November 1905. A mammoth 3 day bazaar was held to help reduce the remaining debt of £1,044.

On Wednesday the 3rd of March 1909, the Portsmouth Sunday School Union awarded Mr. & Mrs. Pyle and Mr. Dodge diplomas for 50 years service. The golden jubilee of Fareham Wesleyan Sunday School was celebrated over Easter in 1909. Albion Dodge received a special award at the jubilee celebrations on Good Friday for 50 years as Sunday School Superintendent. At that time there were 42 members of staff, 220 children. A School library with 318 books, and 39 children collecting for J.M.A.

In January 1911 after 52 years, Albion Dodge eventually retired due to ill health. Mr. J. Herbert Pyle who had assisted him for five years took over the reins, a job he did for many years. However, Mr. Pyle retained his job title of Assistant Superintendent as it was felt that nobody could step into the shoes and take the place of Mr. Dodge.

The Third Church Building

Three factors contributed to the third and final move from the site opposite Woolworths to our present site here.

                a.    The noise of the bus station next door.

                b.    The noise and bustle of West Street.

                c.    The cost of major repairs to the roof.


On Wednesday 2nd November 1938, the stonelaying ceremony took place. Harry Savage, Superintendent and the children of the Sunday School joined in the event laying one of the bricks.

They were also present at the opening of the Church on Wednesday 24th May 1939.

Thirty three members of the Sunday School had collected money towards the cost of the building. The names of those children are: Leslie Bone, Ruth Goodall, Rita Hooke, Maisie Duffin, Doris Brant, Gladys Scorey, Yvonne Davis, Nora Baker, Rosie Goodall, Nancy Goodall, Gwen Moss, Shirley Martin, Doris Knight, Brenda Clark, Eva Goodall, June Clark, Daphne Stares, Gillian Clark, Ronald Bone, John Bishop, Richard Cousins, Harold Savage, Roger Savage, John Savage, Will Godfrey, Tony Baker, Hazel Martell, Irene Streek, Laura Stevens, Phyllis Shawyer, Jean Cochrane, Eileen Moridge & Sheeleigh Stone.

The original floor, pews, pipe organ and other items came from the second church to reduce the building cost.

According to the Sunday School centenary souvenir handbook. The Good Shepherd window was installed by the Rev. F. Dean Perkins after the war. It was in memory of Albion Dodge, William James Pyle and their families. It was paid for by contributions from the whole circuit.

Besides Albion Dodge, J. Herbert Pyle and Harry Savage Sunday School Superintendents have included: Gilbert Cochrane, Ronald McDonald, Mr. W. A. Newall and Mrs. E. Goodall.

In May 1959 the principal Centenary Celebrations were: A grand Rally on the Saturday. The morning, afternoon and evening services on the Sunday. The Annual Prizegiving on the Monday and a Handicraft Exhibition and Concert on the Friday. The Sunday School Choir featured throughout the celebrations.

This photograph was reproduced in the handbook and shows the Sunday School staff in 1959.

Researched, collected and collated by Mark Brooks