Webpage created: July 23, 2017.
Webpage updated: July 23, 2017
In 1744 the (Old) Tabernacle was erected in Breton Side, Plymouth, for the Congregational movement but they were ejected from it after the death of its founder, Mr Andrew Kinsman, on February 28th 1793. Thus it was that in 1795 the congregation dispersed to other chapels in the Town.
Those former members of the congregation met two years later to discuss erecting a new chapel in which they could once again worship together and within a short time a site was acquired in Norley Lane, later known as Norley Street. After overcoming financial difficulties, the building was erected at a cost of some £800 and initially opened for weekly prayer meetings. Divine worship was commenced on Friday December 8th 1797. The building sat around 600-700 people.
Rules and Regulations were drawn up, of course, and these were remarkable strict, for the deacons and pastor, let alone the members. For example, the members could be 'admonished' by the deacons for walking disorderly, 'or in any respect act unbecoming their character as Christians'. Try introducing that rule in 2007.
At first the Reverend J Cooper took the meetings but on June 24th 1798 the Reverend Charles Soper was appointed as pastor at a salary of £80 per annum. He continued until 1805.
The New Tabernacle was the first dissenting place of worship in Plymouth to have an organ. This was built by a Mr Redstone, carpenter, of Turnchapel, at the personal expense of one of the deacons, Mr Thomas Cater. Unfortunately this move was disliked by many in the congregation, one of whom removed all the pipes of one stop, and those who disapproved moved to reopen the Old Tabernacle again. The organ was removed in 1817 and services were afterwards accompanied by the choir and possibly a bass viol and two flutes.
Work on altering the building was started on June 24th 1833. While this was in progress the congregation met during the week at the Baptist chapel in How Street and on Sundays at the Mechanics' Institute in Princess Square. When the alterations were complete, the New Tabernacle reopened under a new name -- the Norley Congregational Chapel.