Solway Plain - past and present by the Holme St Cuthbert History Group

Foulsyke Chapel

Foulsyke Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built between 1898 and 1899 due entirely to the efforts of one man, Thomas Hurst, who was only 27-years-old when work began. He was particularly devoted to the Sunday School and the Band of Hope. He was a local preacher in the Wigton Methodist Circuit.

Thomas Hurst
Thomas Hurst

His work there came to a sudden end when he died, of pneumonia, at the age of 35 in November 1906.

At the time of his death, his widow Sarah Ann, was pregnant with the couple’s second son, Thomas. Their first child, John, was just eight.

Following her husband’s death, Sarah Ann Hurst took over his work at Foulsyke.

She was to be the mainstay of the chapel for the next forty years.

 She lived, with her two young children, in a terraced house at Abbeytown, next door to Little’s, the bakers. From here, whatever the weather, she cycled the five miles (8Km) to Foulsyke and back every Sunday

From the early 1900s until 1947, she was a Class Leader and the Chapel Steward as well as Sunday School Superintendent.

Her younger son, Thomas, took over his father’s duties as Society Steward until 1929, when Sarah Ann assumed this office as well.

Sarah Ann Hurst finally retired from her chapel duties, at the age of 72, in 1947. She moved to Hove Cottage in Skinburness. She then attended the Silloth Methodist Church but always made her way to Foulsyke for special occasions.

She was present at the chapel’s diamond jubilee celebrations in 1958 when 170 people crowded into the chapel. The celebrations concluded with a supper at Foulsyke Farm. Sarah lived until 1960. The following year, a tablet was dedicated to her memory in the chapel.

Sarah Ann Hurst
Sarah Ann Hurst

Interior of chapel
Interior of the chapel.

After Sarah Ann's retirement, two other local families, the Hollidays and the Parrishes, took over responsibility for running the chapel with some help from the Lightfoots of Abbeytown.


The Holliday family John and Jenny Holliday lived with their family (left) at Hill House, near Aldoth, just about a mile from Foulsyke. They had one daughter and five sons.

Their daughter, Jane Ellen, was always known as Nellie. She became the chapel caretaker. There was no mains water supply until 1953. Nellie had to go to Foulskye Farm to fetch it. There was an old iron stove on which a kettle could be boiled. This was also used for tea when refreshments were required.

The Holliday boys all took an active role at the chapel. Len was the Church Treasurer and, like his brother John, was a local preacher in the Wigton Methodist Circuit; both were trained at Cliff College in Derbyshire. Stanley succeeded his mother as the chapel organist. Willie lived in Silloth but was also a member at Foulsyke. Dan, alone of the brothers, was not a regular; he usually travelled to the Dalston chapel, where he was the organist.

The Hollidays were assisted in running the church by Alice Parrish and her son Victor who lived at Keld View. Alice was the Sunday School Superintendent for around forty years. Victor was a Church Steward and also taught and played the organ for the Sunday School. In 1953, Alice Parrish raised money to build a toilet and coalhouse and to have the chapel redecorated.

The Parrish family
The Parrish family. l to r: Harold Harrison Parrish, Alice Parrish, Norman Graham (son of Margaret Annie Graham, played cricket for Kent), Margaret Annie Graham (neé Harrison, sister of Alice), Victor Parrish, Joseph William Harrison (brother of Alice). 1958.

A typical Sunday congregation in the 1960s would consist of around a dozen souls but, by the early 1990’s, this had fallen to between four and six people each week and Foulsyke Chapel finally closed, after the Harvest Festival, on Monday, October 14, 1992. It was later converted into a private dwelling.

Foulsyke congregation outside chapel
A happy occasion at Foulsyke. l to r: Jean Miller (neé Lightfoot); Mary Marshall (neé Lightfoot); Ethel Haile (neé Armstrong); Stanley Holliday; Dickie Thompson, Wigton; Mrs Thompson; Rev. Stanley Garner; Gerald Preston; Victor Parrish; Mrs Garner; Margaret Parrish; Bill Holliday; Nellie Holliday (Chapel caretaker).

From the foundation of the chapel, there was always a Sunday School at Foulsyke.

When Alice Parrish first took over as Superintendent, there was a proper Sunday School Anniversary with a platform erected at the front of the chapel, over the communion table, and around 24 pupils taking part. Each pupil would sing a solo, take part in a chorus or perform a recitation.

Stephen, aged 8

The Reliant Rebel

By the mid 1970s, there was only one pupil left – Steven Lightfoot from Smart Hill. Alice and her son, Victor, established a mobile Sunday School service for him. They took their car, a 4-wheel Reliant Rebel, to the farm with the school books and taught Stephen on the back seat. He remembers being particularly annoyed when they arrived at 2pm one Sunday afternoon, and he had to leave his work in the hayfield to join them in the car for his lessons!

Fully detailed history of Foulsyke Chapel in printer-friendly format  

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Foulsyke Methodist Chapel