Norton Down Methodist Church
Minister - Rev Graham Slingo
Directions - The White Post roundabout at the junction of A367 & B3139. Car parking at the church. SatNav - BA3 4QA)
Norton Down Methodist Church (referred to by a Minister as the little gem) was opened on October 19th 1888.
However, the Wesleyan Society had been meeting in the 16-18 cottages or a room at the Whitepost Inn (almost opposite the Church) since December 1872.
During those early days, menfolk in the small community worked in the coalmines or on the land belonging to the Beauchamp family. The Beauchamp’s were the most powerful group of Somerset Colliery and land owners in the area. The family lived in Norton House, which William Beauchamp enlarged and named Norton Hall.
Various stories exist regarding the decision by William Beauchamp to donate land and money for the building of a Methodist Church for his workers. The design of the Church is also unsure but rumour has it that is was so designed to allow Anglican worship at the East end in the mornings and the Wesleyan (Mission type) at the West end in the evenings (probably!)
During the past 60 years, mines have closed; Norton Hall was demolished and replaced with new buildings. With increasing traffic flow, the crossroads (where the B3139 meets the A367) beside the church became dangerous. This resulted in the building of a new roundabout that raised the level of the road. The old road was left around the church that we are now able to use for parking!
Changes to the interior of the building over the years included the introduction of electric lighting, and central heating and more recent the creation of inside toilet blocks and a ‘secret kitchen’. Present projects are underway with the development of the large piece of land beside the church into a more usable area. Its uses will be many, including photographs for the many weddings that take place at the church.
Norton Down Methodist Church became part of the Frome circuit in September 2008 when Rev. Roly Sims (a local lad!) became our Minister.
Subsequent to that we became part of the Somerset Mendip Circuit, initially with Rev. Nick Lakin as the Superintendent Minister and currently Rev. Tina Swire who took the reins when Nick moved to the Minehead circuit.
Mission and outreach is a very important part of life at Norton Down. The Norton Down Africa Fund Charity was founded in 2005 and was officially registered by the Charities commission in October 2006. The fund supported education for the benefit of young children and their local communities in West Kenya by funding 4 free pre-school nurseries close to Kisumu.
With effect from January 2021 the Kenyan Government implemented a policy of absorbing all pre-school nurseries, whether free or private, into State funded primary education.
The trustees of the charity agreed that purpose of it's work was now complete with underpriviledged children no longer being excluded from education. They consequently formally closed the charity to coincide with the government transfer.
Discussion on further Mission and Outreach is expected to take place following a realistic opportunity in the New Year.
At home, the Church is open every Sunday morning at 10.30am for worship and every Wednesday morning from 10.30am-12noon. This gives an opportunity for passing visitors as well as members to enjoy a fellowship time together.
Sadly, both theses events are subject to various Covid-19 restrictions & are 'on hold' until churches are allowed to reopen.