Salem is a small village chapel in Winterbourne just outside Bristol, with a friendly congregation. It is rooted in Methodism, but now works closely with the Parish Church of St. Michael’s. and is linked to other Methodist Churches through the Bristol Circuit.The congregation seeks to witness to the local community, and support those in need.
Salem is one of the oldest Methodist Churches in the Bristol Methodist District. John Wesley recorded in his Journal for September 17th 1787 that he preached on the foundation of a new preaching house. His entry for the day reads:
“Leaving this (Bath) Society in a better state than it has been for many years, I went to Bristol, where my brother has been for some weeks. By the way I preached at Winterbourne on the foundation of a new preaching-house. There was much rain before I began, and a violent wind all the time I was preaching; yet some of these I trust, did come to the marriage. I had now two or three days to answer my letters. Every evening our room (Bristol) was well filled with attentive hearers”
John Wesley had visited Winterbourne to preach on September 6th 1750, November 2nd 1752 and October 15th 1761 (details from his Sermon Register), so it took some years for the folk who heard Wesley preach to come to a point at which they could think of building a preaching house. The land was purchased by Robert Curtis, a hatmaker of Winterbourne, for 10 guineas, from Mr George Rolf of Thornbury. The condition of the sale was the preaching house has to be built within year, or the land reverted to its original owner.
In 1792 a further
purchase of land took place. For one guinea, the land on which the
present vestry, upstairs schoolroom and the area which is now the
purchased. Later that same year, Chapel House, including out-buildings, shops and small orchard was also purchased. This was transferred to a body of trustees in 1840, and later used as a ministers house, and later again by caretakers. The building must have been completed by 1796 (if not before) as it was registered on January 29th of that year.
dated January 15th 1796 was sent to the Bishop of Gloucester stating
“Some of His majesty’s dissenting subjects have set apart for the service of God a room or building called the Methodists’ Chapel in the Parish of Winterbourne, which they desire may be registered in the Bishop’s Court according to an Act of Parliament of William and Mary”