"Disgraceful Outrage in a
Wesleyan Chapel On Sunday last the village of Yeadon was again the scene of the
most disgraceful and riotous proceedings, arising out of an unfortunate
misunderstanding between the Conference Wesleyans and the party calling
themselves the "Reformers".
An eye-witness has furnished us with an
account of what took place, and if his narrative is correct, (which we do not
have the slightest reason to doubt) the parties appear to have conducted
themselves more like a tribe of Choc-taw Indians than as members of a
civilised- not to say Christian community.
before the hour of morning service several hundreds of persons had collected in
the neighbourhood of the Wesleyan Chapel.
Many of them occupied the chapel yard and others the
Upon the doors of the chapel being opened, a rush was made
to enter and then ensued a scene, which, we should hope, has rarely been
paralleled within the walls of an edifice professedly dedicated to the purposes
of Divine worship.
One part of
the "congregation" set up the most hideous yells; another commenced
singing lewd songs; while others amused themselves by tossing the cushions
about the chapel.
The interior of the chapel was a very Pandemonium.
says our informant, was "truly awful" to witness.
from this town had entered the chapel under the impression that the Rev. Mr
Shrewsbury was about to preach and had taken their seats in one of the galleries.
Whether or not they were supposed to belong to the Conference party we cannot
say, but they had been there but a few minutes
when about fifty men, forming apparently an organised body, entered the
gallery and marching up to the men peremptorily ordered them to quit the place.
Finding that expostulation would be useless they prepared to obey but when
about to descend the gallery steps a cry of "Back up" was raised by
the mob and they were pushed violently down the stairs.
had scarcely managed to reach the chapel door before they were set upon by a
number of other ruffians, who, taking advantage of their defenceless condition,
commenced pushing and kicking them in a most disgraceful manner.
After a while
one of the gentlemen managed to obtain a hearing and expostulated with the mob,
declaring that he was no party to their disputes and claiming the right for
himself and his companion, either to remain unmolested on the premises or
allowed to take the latter course, although not until they had received several
severe contusions from kicks and blows.
We understand that some of the parties
concerned in this outrage can be identified and that it is not improbable that
they will have to answer for their conduct before the magistrates.
It is really
high time that some steps were taken to
vindicate the supremacy of the law and put a stop to the disgraceful scenes
which are weekly enacted in this village.
Surely, when strangers who attend a
place set apart for Divine worship are liable to be subjected to such treatment
as that we have described, it ought to be the duty of the constituted
authorities to interfere".
Image reproduced by kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive, research by Edwy Harling
by Christine Lovedale:
In 1851 a schism occurred in the Methodist Church when
some members began demanding reforms, a notion quashed by a Methodist
Conference., this gave rise to great ill feeling and was the cause of the riots and tensions
in the Yeadon chapel (Chapel Hill).
Arrests were made if not following the
affray described here then on another occasion.
been printed demanding reform which were banned by the Wesleyans, William
Kenion who ran one of the Yeadon chapel bible classes obtained a copy and read
it to his group, as a result they were banned from the chapel. Instead they
continued to meet at Willow Cottage on Ivegate which was Kenion's home.
ended when the differing claims were taken to court, the Conference members
retained the use of the chapel.
Kenion and his group of reformers were gaining support,
he gave a plot of land on the High Street and funds were raised to build a new
place of worship, the New Wesleyan Reform Chapel opened in 1855.
congregation continued to grow to such an extent that the numbers were too
large to accommodate on the High Street, a larger building was erected, Queen
Street Chapel opening in 1898.
The High Street premises were then used as
Sunday School rooms and a Lecture Hall.