The Devon market town of Ashburton has a long history: as a stannary town it was an important centre for the administration of the tin-mining industry, and it was a staging post on the road between Exeter and Plymouth.
Among its historic buildings the Old Methodist Church stands out, and I was lucky to visit it in the summer of 2017, which turned out to be the end of an era.
Its prominent portico, set back from the street-line, is dated 1835, though the building behind appears to be later.
Immediately behind the entrance doors there’s a schoolroom on the ground floor and a meeting room above.
Corridors on either side lead to a dignified, typically Methodist space with a gallery round three sides of the chapel.
It was comprehensively refurbished in 1896 with the installation of pitch-pine pews in place of box-pews, a green-and-chocolate rostrum instead of the former pulpit, and an upholstered alcove for the preacher.
An Inventory of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting-Houses in South West England (1991) reported that the significant repairs had taken place in 1980, but in the decades since then the congregation have found the cost of maintenance unsustainable, and they have moved into the Parish Church Hall for their services, and sold the Old Methodist Church to Ashburton Arts, which is restoring it for use as a cultural and social centre for the town: “One of the best small live music venues in the UK” The Guardian – Ashburton Arts Centre, 15 West St, Devon, TQ13 7DT, UK.