Whiston Methodist Chapel


Whiston Chapel
Private collection
Myra Littlewood & Pauline Handley (child) on a Sunday School trip
Private collection
Sunday School Prize
Private collection
Book plate in Sunday School prize
Private collection
Sunday School Queen Margaret Gammage 1953
Private collection
Sunday School Queen Linda Middlemiss 1983
Private collection

Whiston Methodist Chapel is in Whiston village near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, and from the 1881 Kellys Directory and the web site – whistonweb.co.uk-    it can be learnt that a Wesleyan Chapel was first erected in 1824 and then enlarged or rebuilt in 1866. I have never been aware of it being called Wesleyan or anything else, just the Methodist Chapel, the place where we went to Sunday School back in the 1940’s and 50’s, a place that has many memories.


When we were young we went to Sunday School twice a day, morning and afternoon, we were always sent looking smart in our best clothes and given a penny for the collection. We used to have star cards that were stamped each time we attended Sunday School. Attendance was relevant to receiving a book prize at some point in the year. I seem to think for at least one of the services we started off with the adults in the main room where the pulpit and lovely stained glass window was, then half way through we would go into the back rooms for Sunday school with teachers such as Myra Littlewood.

There were a number of special events throughout the years at Sunday School. Whitsuntide, and the Sunday School Anniversaries hold special memories. We sat on high open wooden platforms, erected in front of a stained glass window, facing the congregation. Sitting on the wooden platform was a bit scary but we would sing our hearts out and enjoy being dressed in our new clothes, white socks and sandals. We always had new clothes at Whitsuntide, mum often made our new frocks. It was a special time. I believe there were three services on Whit Sunday, morning, afternoon and evening. I am sure our parents or at least mum came to one of the services to see us on the special platform. Whit Monday was when there would be a parade round the village, we all marched behind a big banner singing, there may also have been collecting tins for people to put money in. People would come out of their houses to watch and listen. In the afternoon we would go up Guilthwaite Hill to a field for a picnic and sports.

We also had Sunday School outings to the seaside. I have a photograph of me on one of these trips, I think Myra Littlewood was supervising us on the outing. The Littlewood family who lived at the top of Reresby Crescent were big chapel people. Mr Littlewood was one of the senior members of the chapel, Myra was his daughter, and there was also a son Peter. Other senior chapel members were the Pointers, and Pashley’s. 

Each year the Methodist Chapel chose a Sunday School Queen and there would be a concert with a crowning of Queen ceremony. The Queen wore a long white dress and had a long velvet train. She had attendants who wore matching dresses, I feel sure someone connected with the chapel used to make the dresses each year. There was also a pageboy who carried the crown on a cushion. The event was very colourful because each time you had the retiring queen with her retinue and the new queen with her attendants and pageboy. Additionally a special adult was chosen to crown the new queen. Singing and poetry by Sunday School scholars would add to the concert. Photographs of each queen were hung on the wall in the Sunday School room, one of the photos was of Margaret Gammage who lived on Reresby Crescent, (now living in the USA). I think others were Cynthia Beaver, Joan Astbury, Pamela Bassindale and Elaine Derouke. In later years my niece Linda Middlemiss was the Sunday School Queen.

A Sunday School pantomime was also produced each year at the Methodist Chapel. I remember going to rehearsals and practising dancing, I believe we were bluebirds in flowing thin cotton dresses. Names that spring to mind either as teachers or Sunday school scholars are June Pashley, Barrie Hibbertson, Stephen Rogers, Jean Henderson, Doreen Calver, (some of the Calver family were well know for playing cricket in the village). Also Pamela Bassindale, and Joan Astbury who had a brother Colin. The concerts and pantomimes were held in a large room which for most of the year was made into two rooms separated by large wooden dividing doors. The main services each week were held in a lovely room with a stained glass window, there was also a large pipe organ and rows of wooden chairs. 

As children we were encouraged to help others, and each year at Sunday School we would be given small books of ‘Sunny Smiles’ to sell. Each page had a picture of a baby or child on and which could be detached and sold to raise money for the National Children’s Homes. The pictures were of children in the homes and it is interesting that approximately 56 years after being at Whiston Sunday School, that I discovered Rev. Bob Jones a recent minister at the Methodist Church I now attend in Forest Town, Mansfield, was once a ‘Sunny Smile.’ 

Some of the hymns I recall singing are ‘Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam, and All Things Bright and Beautiful’ these are just two that come to mind. Though I have not been back for many years, Whiston Methodist Chapel holds a special place in my memory. Pauline Marples nee Handley

Comments about this page

  • I have a most wonderful day yesterday 28 October 2023 when I one again met up with Elaine de Roeck who was over from Sweden to visit relatives. It is approximately 70 years since we last met and there were plenty of memories to share. Pauline Marples nee Handley

    By Pauline Marples (29/10/2023)
  • Hello Jean, thank you for adding your comment. I missed speaking to you at the Rotherham Wheelers Centenary event last year. I used to live 3 doors up from Stephen on Reresby Crescent, and I think you lived across from the Hind Hotel.
    I am now in regular contact with Margaret Gammage (in the USA) and Elaine de Roeck (in Sweden) because of this web site and we do a lot of reminiscing about Whiston and Whiston Chapel. I will copy your comment and send it on to them because they often comment on people who went to the Youth Club. You can see Margaret’s Sunday School Queen photo on here and Elaine has recently shared hers with us. If you still go to the the Chapel you will be able to tell us if the SS Queen photo’s are still displayed on the walls. My niece Linda Middlemiss was a SS Queen as well.
    If you want to respond to me you can reach me on heritage.foresttown@ntlworld.com Pauline nee Handley

    By Pauline Marples (01/02/2022)
  • I Jean Rodgers (Henderson) am still a member of Whiston Methodist Church and was married to Stephen Rodgers who sadly passed away in 2003. My sister Barbara is married to Michael Duncombe both ex members of Whiston and the flourishing youth club we all attended. We always remember the wonderful years we had and the friendships we made down at Whiston Chapel with quite a number of us marrying. Whiston Methodist Church and the people who were there and are there now will always be a major part of my life.

    By Jean Rodgers nee Henderson (03/01/2022)
  • How sad of me not to have kept checking this page, I have just looked and was delighted to see your name Elaine, I believe you lived with a family on Leasegate Road. I could share a lot of hopefully happy memories with you re Whiston and I am still in contact with Margaret (nee Gamage). I can be reached via heritage.foresttown@ntlworld.com

    Nice to hear from a member of the Littlwood family’as well

    By Pauline Marples (27/06/2021)
  • Having read this wonderful description of Whiston Methodist Chapel, I just had to reply. I was Sunday School Queen the year after Margaret Gammage. I had played Cinderella in the pantomime with my Beautiful dress. I had a silly crush on Buttons! I remember all the wonderful youth club Saturdays and Sunday services. I was a member of the Choir and after the service Peter Littlewood sat at the piano and we gathered around to sing our favourite hymns. This Chapel was a safe haven for me, living in a very unhappy Environment as a foster Child. I still wish I had taken my hymn book with me, with my name printed inside. I left Rotherham when I reached the age of 18 and wished never to return. The only Place I missed was Whiston Methodist Chapel. I now live in Sweden.

    By Elaine de Roeck (29/12/2020)
  • As a Littlewood [Kevin] i remember it so well. Myra Littlewood was my aunty and Pamela Bassindale still is

    By kevin littlewood (26/01/2019)

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