A CHAPTER in Pickering’s church life comes to an end at the end of the month when the town’s Carr Methodist Chapel closes after more than 150 years.

Life-long worshipper Olive Leng said: “There is a lot of sadness about, but the building needs a lot of money spending on it and we only have a congregation of nine or 10.”

Mrs Leng, who, as well as being a steward, is also the organist and treasurer, said the brick-built roadside chapel on the A169 between Pickering and Malton, thrived in the days when the railway existed between the two towns. There were many farms with large numbers of farm hands and their families.

But the congregation is determined that the church should go out in style for its last services On Sunday, the Rev David Emerson, the superintendent minister, will be leading the service, while the following Sunday, July 24, brother and sister Owen Gardner and Claira Mountford will be taking the service. On the last day, July 31, the Rev Peter Cross, the circuit minister, who is leaving the area shortly to move to Scarborough, will preach at the final service.

Already the congregation has had several special events, including a choir concert.

The church was built 152 years ago, and a schoolroom built in 1949 to accommodate the growing congregation and their families.

While it has never had a wedding – due to not being licensed – it has had the occasional christening over the years.

The congregation will now move to the chapel at Kirby Misperton where Mrs Leng is also the organist.

The Rev Cross was optimistic about Methodism in the area despite the closure.

He said: “I feel we have done a great job over the years and probably our work is done in this area. It is a time to rejoice at what has been achieved and the role the church has played in the Pickering Carr area because the church isn’t just about bricks and mortar – it’s about the people and we have had a wonderful congregation here.”

The building of the chapel and its furnishings cost just £70 in 1859 and the bricks were made by Thomas Lumley, a brickmaker, at the nearby Black Bull, while the Sunday School extension cost just over £1,000.

The chapel became a reality after a handful of workers set up the Methodist New Connexion at Black Bull and local farmer Robert Hardwick, of Brignell Park Farm – now known as Bar Farm – sold a piece of land for it to be built. Among the local well-known names of the day involved with the chapel were the Rickaby, Fletcher, Watson, Ward, Boak and Metcalf families.

* A humourous story told by a minister of yesteryear related to an old lady member of the congregation, celebrating her 100th birthday who was asked how it felt to be starting a second hundred years. She replied: “I’m a vast deal better o’ my legs than I was when I started t’first!”