A Brief History of Methodism in Pannal and Burn Bridge.
In an early visit to our area John Wesley preached in Pannal’s first chapel on a site just a quarter of a mile from our present buildings, which were erected in 1905.
At that time it was nicknamed “Red Brick Chapel on the Hill” and this has stuck.
The home of John Prockter became the first meeting place for Methodists in Pannal in 1753, when, after a disturbing incident, he and his mother welcomed any passing Methodist preacher. With friends Richard Burdsall from Kearby and John Pawson of Harewood (who became the third President of Conference after the death of Wesley), Prockter, who continued to worship at St. Robert’s in Pannal and is buried there, became leading lights in the growing movement which led to the building of that first chapel, which was mentioned at the 1778 Annual Conference, held in Leeds; the chapel was probably opened in 1780. It was then known as Pannal Preaching House. It is marked by a plaque on a wall in Hillfoot Lane which says “This tablet marks the site of the first Wesleyan chapel at Pannal, built 1788 wherein John Wesley preached”. The date might be wrong but the tradition that Wesley himself preached there is very strong.
A second chapel was built alongside the old one in the early 19th century; it was still standing in 1904 when the foundation stone of our present chapel was laid. The move to Spring Lane was largely prompted by a change of circuits, following a decision in 1899 to move Pannal and Beckwithshaw from the Otley to the Harrogate circuit (which was founded in 1858). The new Harrogate Trustees inspected the old building in 1902 with a view to renovating it but later elected to build an entirely new chapel at a cost of £1835. Since that time, the Chapel has been extended and renovated in order to meet the needs of a growing village and changing times. Life within the church has also developed since those very early days.
In 2005 we celebrated the Centenary of our Chapel with a re-enactment of the lives of the pioneering men and woman of Pannal who began by worshipping in their own homes. Much of the material that was used then was taken from the book by the late Rita Corbridge, a long-standing member of our congregation, entitled ‘Hilltop Heritage: The Story of Pannal Methodists’ which chronicles the 250 year history of our Chapel and is well worth reading.
Since its founding we have reached downward to serve the community of Pannal and Burn Bridge as St Robert’s reaches up. During the course of our history, we have been linked with various of the other Chapels in the circuit and have now come circle in that our current “partner” is Trinity!
We describe ourselves as a ‘friendly, family church - Open to God, Open to you, Open to all’ and we work & pray to be this.
The history of our church is told in greater detail in “Hilltop Heritage: The Story of Pannal Methodists” by Rita Corbridge a former member of our church (ISBN: 9780954595616). We have copies available for purchase. Please enquire at the church.