Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 11, 2018
Webpage updated: March 31, 2018




The East Street Bible Christian Chapel in East Stonehouse was located on the south side of East Street, adjacent to the Council School.

In around 1831 the Bible Christian movement first started to hold services at East Stonehouse.  The premises were in Market Street but this soon became too small for the congregation and it was necessary to find larger accommodation.  A site was acquired on the western side of Battery Field, fronting East Street, and there at 2.30pm on Monday June 15th 1857 Mr Alfred Rooker laid the foundation stone.  The cost of the building would be around 600 and it was expected to accommodate 300 worshippers.

Designed by Mr Alfred Norman and built by Mr Dingle of East Stonehouse at a cost of 560, the East Street Bible Christian Chapel was opened with a service at 11am on Friday January 1st 1858.

These premises then served the need until 1884, when the success of the Sunday School made it necessary to erect additional classrooms.

At the same time, the existing building was renovated.  In 1886 the Chapel exterior was cemented, the front was painted, the entrances to the schoolroom was flagged, the windows were furnished with cathedral glass and a new lamp installed at the main entrance.  All this was done under the direction of the architect, Mr H J Snell.

During the early months of 1887, the interior was completely refurbished, with Messrs Ayres & Foster of Battery Street, East Stonehouse, fitting new iron tubing to supply gas to forty-six lights positioned in the centre of the white painted ceiling and a further fourteen, on polished brass brackets, distributed throughout the building.  They also did the painting.

At the southern end of the building a new gallery was installed for the singers above a carved architrave, in the centre of which was painted a decorative ribbon with the text 'Immanuel, God with us'.  The rostrum, approached by a winding staircase of mahogany rails supported on cast-iron ornamental panel balusters, was remodelled and greatly improved.  A new dais with a mahogany rail was also installed.  The carpentry work was done by Messrs Foster & Blatchford, of East Stonehouse and Laira.

The seats had been widened and tilted and had book trays and even hat rails.  These, along with the roof timbers, had been thoroughly cleaned, stained and varnished.  The walls were repainted and covered by a darker, panelled dado just above seat level.  The gallery front, rostrum, columns, communion standards had all been picked out in beautiful tints and gilded in gold.   The furnishings had been supplied by Messrs Harding & Son of Union Street, Plymouth.

All that work cost 350.  There was also brand new two manual harmonium, with octave coupler, which had cost 80.

The refurbished Chapel was re-opened on Wednesday March 16th 1887 with a service at 3.30pm led by the Reverend John Dymond of Exeter.  This was followed at 5.30pm by a public tea and at 7.30pm by a public meeting addressed by various local worthies.

A new Sunday School was opened on January 4th 1905.  On the ground floor was a church parlour, a class-room for the infants, a ladies' room, a minister's room and three other classrooms while on the first floor was a large schoolroom capable of holding 450 people, with a choir vestry and library adjoining it.  The opening ceremony was performed by Colonel Saint Quentin.  The Reverend A Hancock presided.

After that ceremony had been completed, the gathering moved to the Church itself where Miss Muriel Pawley, the daughter of Mr T J Pawley, the organist, presented Colonel Saint Quentin with a silver key with which to open the door to the new organ.  Messrs Hele & Company, of Plymouth, had constructed the organ to the specifications of Mr Harry Moreton Mus. Bac., the Plymouth Borough Organist.  It consisted of two complete manuals and independent pedal organ containing 17 stops, 4 couples and 4 composition pedals.  It was enclosed in a case of pitchpine, with decorated front pipes, and had an hydraulic engine.

The Sunday School building was designed by Mr H J Snell, who was represented at the opening by Mr L Thornely, and constructed by Mr Andrews, contractor.

During the afternoon Mr Moreton gave an organ recital and in the evening there was the obligatory public meeting.