Postwar decline & growth
In the early
1950s Mrs. Sturman retired from the Sunday School and at that time Rev. Perry
was the Minister. The Membership was very low and he felt that it was
inevitable that the Chapel would have to close. Mr. Arthur Bobbin was able to
convince him and the Circuit that the Chapel should remain open. During the
1940s and 1950s Mr. William Trower Jnr. was treasurer for Mulbarton Chapel.
Although he himself was member of a Church in Norwich, he was also one of the
Mulbarton Trustees. It was always thought that he often met the assessment out
of his own pocket, as the collections were so low.
Accounts for 1945-52 show that collections were around 5 shillings at each service, totalling between £6 and £7 per quarter. Quarterly totals rose to over £10 from 1953 and crept up to £20 by 1961. They doubled again by 1971, to keep up with inflation, and quarterly totals for collections up to 1981 are impressive, despite declining numbers.
years 1955/1957 the congregation numbers increased due to several families from
Swardeston attending. Namely Mr. & Mrs. Bailey, Mr. & Mrs. Arthur
Bobbin and family, Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Bobbin & family, Mr. & Mrs.
Lewis, Mr. & Mrs. Oliver Trory & family, Mr. & Mrs. Sadd, and Mr.
& Mrs. Vincent. The Chapel fortunes improved, a new trust was formed, and the
local Church took on the management of their own affairs in 1960. This was
suggested by the then Minister, Rev. Loy. As well as Mr. Arthur Bobbin being
Steward, Mr Frank Sadd was also elected as one, and Mr. Vincent became the
treasurer. Mrs. Vincent became the unofficial organist. A 'Women's Bright Hour'
was started and Mrs. Bailey, Mrs Mary Bobbin, Mrs. Ethel Bobbin and Mrs. Ida
Sadd were on the first committee. Later they were joined by Mrs. Peggy
Swindells, who also worked hard in engaging the speakers. Again the numbers
fluctuated, but several friends from the Anglican Church supported the meetings
Family loyalties were maintained. Mrs. Barbara Stevens became a member when she attended
from the l960s with her husband John and two sons. Barbara was the
granddaughter of Mrs Cooper one of the founder members of the Chapel. From the
end of the 1960s, the Chapel went to having just afternoon services, and it was
then that Mrs. Tuck from Park Lane Methodist Church used to sometimes accompany
the preacher and play the organ. She always sang a solo.
Spring Sale first mentioned May 13th
1965. - £18 given to Chapel funds.
Sale raised £43.70p.
Sale raised £217.39
May 1991 - last
Spring Sale recorded, £398.19
Links with Norwich and
In its time the oversight of the Mulbarton Methodist Chapel was organised by the Methodist churches at Queens
Road, Norwich; Park Lane, Norwich; Bowthorpe Road, Norwich; Chapelfield Road,
Norwich; and Hethersett. So over the years members could recall Ministers' names
such as Revs. Perry, Loy, Thixton, Blount, Wedgeworth, Elworthy, Hopper,
Dowson, Ream, Broadhurst, Wall, Sulston, Booker and Cole. All the Ministers in
their turn supported the Chapel and encouraged the larger Churches to support
the smaller one. Each in their own way guided the Mulbarton members and often
tried hard to encourage new people in.
from the larger Churches was much appreciated by the Mulbarton members. On some
special occasions the Chapelfield Road choir, or the Hethersett members, or
those from Park Lane, would help out at the service, and then afterwards tea
and cakes would be served. The problem for the local folk was that with no
kitchen the kettles had to be plugged into the sockets wherever they were
available. One socket was in the pulpit: the preacher would be asked to switch
the kettle on just before he announced the last hymn. Depending on the length
of the hymn and the final prayer, it has been known for steam to be seen rising
up out of the pulpit! Good Methodist humour prevailed, and with much laughter
it was suggested that hot air was coming out of the pulpit.
When in 1984
Mrs. Vincent moved to the other side of Norwich she still attended, but Rev.
Wall arranged for Mrs. Mavis Bastin and Mr. Cyril Stevens to go on an organ
rota. Later John and Mavis Bastin transferred their membership to
Mulbarton. Mrs Bastin ran the Sunday School at the Parish Church for many
The Final Years
Over the years
the Chapel had been blessed with several retired people who became members, and
they helped in whatever way they could. One recalls names such as Mr. &
Mrs. Adcock, Mr & Mrs. Debenham, Mr & Mrs. Macrow, Mrs Fisher, and Mr.
& Mrs. Sothcott. Both Mr. Adcock and Mr. Debenham held office as Steward,
and were a great help to the Chapel with the outside maintenance.
there would be a fund raising event known as the Spring Sale held always in May
in the village hall, and everyone helped including several friends from the
Parish Church. Arthur Bobbin's plant stall was particularly popular!
Traditionally for a rural Chapel, the Harvest Festival was always followed by a
short service on the Monday night and then the fruit & vegetables would be
auctioned (see photo in the heading for the harvest display c. 1985). Mr Aubrey Mayes was for many years the very able Auctioneer, and the
friends from the larger Methodist Churches supported this event well. Often the
money raised would be sent to one of the missions. For many years a service was
held once a quarter at the Cheshire Home, East Carleton, and the friends there
looked forward to the meeting.
In the very
late 1980s Mrs Gail Clifford moved to the area and her membership was
transferred to Mulbarton Chapel. She and her husband Mike and two sons attended
the family services which had been introduced by Rev. Booker. She became a Lay
Worker in 1993 a position she held for over two years for Mulbarton. Gail put a
lot of work into the pastoral side and used to provide transport for members to
the services. Mrs Macrow, Mr & Mrs Massey, and also friends from the
Anglican Church were around to help, too.
When Mr Bobbin
died in 1991* Mr Debenham became senior Steward. He took on the job of opening
the Chapel up on a Sunday and seeing the heat was switched on. However, this
gradually became too much for him to walk the long trek across the common and
it was decided that the services would be held in the Village Hall in the
morning This would be a warmer venue and offer facilities for the occasional
family lunch. So Mulbarton Methodist
Chapel ceased to be used for worship from about 1993. The Methodist services
continued in the village hall for about a couple of years. It was at that time
that Mrs Alice Cooper came back to live in Mulbarton and she attended the
Methodist services: it was her mother who was one of the founder Members back
in 1899! As it became apparent that the numbers attending the Village Hall
services was decreasing it was decided to cease services and to offer the
remaining members lifts to Chapelfield Road Church. This the members accepted,
and so Mr Peter Gaskin arranged a rota for lifts and the members then enjoyed
the worship with a larger congregation.
On November 26th,
1995, the last Methodist service was held in Mulbarton Village Hall followed by
a luncheon. This was arranged by Mrs Gail Clifford and her willing band of
helpers, including of course her husband Mike and her sons. Rev. Gerald Cole
was there, and also representatives from the Norwich Circuit and the local
Anglican Church. All joined in the tribute to almost 100 years of Methodism in
Mulbarton and to pay tribute to people keeping faith with their Lord.
1993 Services ceased at the Chapel building.
Services held first in School Hall and then in Village Hall.
November 1995 last service of Mulbarton Methodist Chapel.
The building was
sold and later converted into two flats.
Bobbin's funeral in January 1992 was the last to be held in the chapel. It was
a crowded, and decorous occasion, but some time afterwards the undertakers
admitted that they had had to stand the coffin on end to get it to the back
door of the chapel.... Mr. Bobbin himself was the only person who knew how to
manoeuvre coffins into the chapel!
from his son)