Non conformism in Minshull goes back at least to Cromwell’s Commonwealth. During that period two Presbyterian Ministers and one Independent Minister were in charge at Church Minshull until the restoration of Charles II.
Our Church was founded by the Jackson brothers of Minshull Hill Farm in 1806. By 1808 there were eleven members. Our Congregational Chapel was opened in 1810.
Cross Lanes in those days must have been literally that. A footpath at the side of Chapel Farm cottage still leads to Warmingham forming a cross roads with Eardswick Lane, Brookhouse Lane and Cross Lane. The Chapel seems to have been in a very strategic position, because within a very short time the Sunday school had between 80 to 100 pupils. Not surprising, as there were no state schools. Sundays must have been very hectic around Cross Lanes with all those children and their parents, the latter probably catching up with local gossip and the progress of the Napoleonic wars.
Not a lot changes, only the name of the wars.
1884 was an important year. We had new pews of Pitch Pine (still there), the interior was beautified (?), block flooring was put down, new windows, new heating, a new organ replaced the old harmonium and a new schoolroom was built. The total cost £469-18s-7d which included £61, the price of the new American organ. The sum of £120 was donated by “Friends” outside the Congregation (we still have lots of those as demonstrated by our “Special Services“) and the remainder by the Congregation itself, a monumental amount in those days.
We still have the Pledge Book of the Minshull and District Temperance Society. formed at Cross Lanes in November 1891. You can still read the names of the people who, from 1891 to 1902, signed the pledge that they would not drink alcohol. Just click here to read them. In 1892 the dreaded dry rot was found at the pulpit end of the church!
1906 was our Centenary year. Extensive renovation work was carried out and the Chapel re-opened with 400 people sitting down for tea in a marquee in an adjoining field. Many would have travelled long distances, probably by horse power. The original stables are still there with chains to tether the horses and a saddle hook on the walls.
Electricity was connected in 1946 and an oil fired boiler was installed to replace the coke as recently as 1970. However it was not until 1975 that water was installed, and with it came a kitchen, a water heater, a sink and a toilet. Before that the church had used the kitchen at Chapel Farm which was now about to be sold.
Since then routine improvements have been made: re-plastering and painting the walls, a new floor laid and carpeted, roof repairs and the oil tank replaced. Just in 2015 we have had three of our seven 1884 stained glass windows renovated; missing glass was replaced, the new leadwork strengthened them against bowing and the sealed-up openers were removed. It looks much better from inside and out. We have been blessed by the Agricultural Chaplaincy who have used a grant for our hall to be decorated and provided us with new chairs and tables. The transformation is amazing. Now we are arranging for the electrical facilities to be improved throughout the premises.
Over the past few years we have been very busy raising money both towards maintaining the fabric of our Church and to continue our Christian Mission. God willing, we will continue to worship here for many years to come.
In 2018 several improvements were made. The guttering etc. were brought up to standard. The roofs of the stable and gents’ toilet were repaired by our neighbour, Andrew Mogford. That meant that the interior of the gents’ toilet could now be repaired and painted by Barrie. In October 2017 we had to stop using the central heating boiler and depend on electric heaters. This was because the fumes from the domestic oil boiler had destroyed the brickwork of the chimney (which had been built for the coke-fired heating) which developed holes and had to be taken down. In September 2018 a new exterior boiler was fitted with an external flue and meeting modern regulations and efficiency standards. To our amazement, the cost of £4,000 was met by friends of the church – anonymously! The damp walls are already showing signs of drying out, mainly due to the prolonged dry weather.