Southampton’s first purpose-built Primitive Methodist chapel was built in St Mary Street by local baker, James Wheeler, in 1837, and opened in 1838. It was situated on the east side of the street, just north of James Street. Its finances were always tight but by 1847 they had added a gallery, and “fitted up the school-room for a self-supporting school on the British system” (Hampshire Independent 15 May 1847) The chapel was reopened after enlargements (more work on the Sunday School was not yet completed) 8 January 1854. With the help of Robert Tasker of Andover, whose wife Elizabeth was a local preacher on the Southampton Circuit, two side galleries were added in 1863. At the Quarterly meeting, 6 June 1881, the St Mary Street Society and Trustees were given “liberty to purchase three houses on South Front” The St Mary Street chapel was advertised for sale by private contract in July 1884: “The property is freehold, and being situate in one of the most crowded thoroughfares of the town, it affords a capital site for business, having a frontage width of about 30 ft. with 60ft. depth. There is a Schoolroom under the Chapel, and the whole site is excavated to a depth of about 7ft. below the level of the pavement. All fixtures are to be included.”
In 1885 the congregation had moved to its new premises in South Front and the original chapel had been converted to an Oddfellows meeting hall, a purpose for which it was used until 1966. It has subsequently been used as offices, a night club and auction rooms.

St Mary's Primitive Methodist Chapel

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The chapel as Parish Offices, 135 St Mary Street Photograph, c.1990

134-136 St Mary Street

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The chapel can just be seen on the left, as the Oddfellows Hall, 1959. It still has its original pediment

Further reading:
Picture of Southampton (1849), by Philip Brannon, p48 (HS/h)
The Story of St Andrew’s Methodist Church, Sholing, by Jim Brown, p24-26 (HS/j)


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