Churches and Chapels of Stoke-on-Trent

Bethel Evangelical Free Church,  Hanley

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Hope Independent (Congregational) Church, Hanley
Founded in 1812

c.1930 became Bethel Temple

c.1953 became Bethel Evangelical Free Church 

rebuilt 1977

Bethel Evangelical Free Church, Hanley, in 2010

the church is on the corner of New Hall Street and Hope Street,
Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

the interior of the church 


Hope Independent (Congregational) Chapel in New Hall Street was built in 1812 by a group who left the Tabernacle in Hanley following a dispute about a deacon getting drunk and falling off his horse in the marketplace. 
  • The first pastor, who was appointed in 1814, was Rev. John Greeves, who in 1816 left to join the Wesleyan Methodists.

  • Under his successor, Rev. William Farmer, the Church split, with the dissident group forming what became Trinity Presbyterian Church, in Trinity Street. 

  • A succession of pastors served the Hope congregation over the next century.

In 1930, faced with large repair bills and declining congregations, Hope Chapel accepted the help of the evangelist and revivalist Edward Jeffreys, whose meetings in the Victoria Hall saw packed crowds and many conversions. 

  • The church became Bethel Temple, Hanley, and a part of Jeffreys' Bethel Evangelistic Society. Jeffreys supplied pastors to lead the Church, and converts from the Hanley campaigns filled the old chapel.

  • Due to changes in his own theological position, Edward Jeffreys dissolved the Bethel Society in 1939. 

The Hanley Bethel soldiered on under the leadership of Pastor E.J Vernon until his sudden and unexpected death in the vestry on 20th January 1953.

  • Pastor Vernon was followed by Pastor Archie Mead, under whose leadership the church was renamed Bethel Evangelical Free Church, and became a member of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC). After he left in 1963 to take over a new church in Feltham, Paul Brown became pastor. 

During Paul Brown's pastorate, in 1975, excavations for the Tesco underground car park next to the church undermined the foundations, and the old building became unsafe and had to be demolished. The current building was opened in 1977. The current pastor (2016) is Mr. Gervase Charmley.

information supplied by:Gervase Charmley


a book on the history of the church is available on Amazon or at the church book shop

 - The Hope In Hope Street: 200 Years in Hanley -

1880 map showing Hope Chapel on the corner of New Hall Street and Hope Street, Hanley

The Church began in 1810, when a dispute in the Tabernacle Congregational Church in the High Street (now called Town Road) led to a group leaving that Church to set up their own. They started off worshipping in a temporary building while they found a permanent home. 

At the time the Shelton New Hall estate was being divided up and sold off by the owners of the New Hall Pottery works. The new Church purchased the Hall Meadow, next to the Pottery works, and built a handsome new chapel, which they named Hope. The chapel was opened on 7th October 1812, with the Rev. William Roby, the leading Congregational minister in Manchester, presiding.

Sentinel newspaper, 27 September 2012


Hope Congregational Church
picture from a 1950's church magazine 

This second Congregational church (in Hope Street) was formed when a number of members seceded from The Tabernacle (in the High Street) after the expulsion of one of the deacons for drunkenness. 

After worshipping for some years in a temporary building, this group built a chapel for themselves in Hope Street which was opened in October 1812 and seated 600. Attendance averaged about 70 in 1851. 

Alterations and renovations were carried out in 1891. The church declined after 1938, and in 1945 the chapel was let as the Hanley Bethel Temple to the Evangelical Free Church. 

It was a two-story red-brick building with stone dressings fronting upon New Hall Street. A stone pediment bore the words '1812 Hope Congregational Church 1891', the latter date presumably referring to the alterations of that year. Twin doorways of the original date have semicircular fanlights and are flanked by Tuscan pillars. There was a schoolroom behind, erected in 1835, also of red brick. In 1840 about 300 children attended the school, but in 1851 only about 80.

'The city of Stoke-on-Trent: Protestant Nonconformity', 
in A History of the County of Stafford: 
Volume 8, ed. J G Jenkins (London, 1963), pp. 276-307 
[accessed 1 January 2016].


the new Bethel church nearing completion next to Tesco in about 1977

this picture is from Newhall Street - in the background can be seen the tower of St. John's Church


Bethel Evangelical Free Church (top, centre) next to Tesco
- Bing Maps - 

In 1975, excavations for the Tesco underground car park next to the church undermined the foundations, and the old building became unsafe and had to be demolished. 
The current building was opened in 1977


The current pastor is Mr. Gervase Charmley
2010 to present (Jan 2016)


Paul Brown was pastor 1966-1994


the Evening Sentinel newspaper -   1977


Pastor Mead and his wife Ethel. 
Archie Mead was pastor 1953-1963


Pastor Vernon served from 1934-1953


Richard Henry Smith was pastor 1860-1864

Robert Macbeth was pastor 1845-1851
though this picture shown him in later life

John Greeves, the first pastor, who served 1814-16

John Greeves, had been pastor at the Congregational Church in Buxton beforehand,
after he left he joined the Methodist ministry.



questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks