135 years of being church

Guildford Wesley Chapel will celebrate its 135th anniversary on Sunday 19 August, 9.30am.

Methodist church services began in Guildford in 1837 when the Hardy brothers travelled to Guildford. The services were held in private homes, the open air or in the Court House after it was constructed. Guildford Church became part of the Perth Methodist Circuit when it was inaugurated in 1840.

In 1856, the first Methodist Church building was erected near the present Guildford railway station. That land was resumed to allow for the construction of the railway line from Perth to Guildford in February 1883. The church was demolished and the cemetery alongside was moved to Wellman Street and then later to South Guildford. The present chapel was opened on 21 August 1883 and was reported in The West Australian newspaper.

Three days later on 24 August 1883, The West Australian again reported on the event:

The opening of the Wesley Chapel Guildford on Tuesday last attracted one of the largest gatherings ever known in the pleasant little village. Numbers of visitors from Perth and Fremantle were  present at the ceremony which was exceedingly interesting. The building which was built to accommodate about one hundred and twenty persons was crowded to excess, nearly three hundred sitting down to the spread. After justice had been done to the repast the concert commenced, and although the programme was somewhat lengthy, the music was greatly appreciated by the audience.

The Sunday School Room, or hall, was added in 1886. By 1897, the original chapel was not large enough to house the expanded congregation, so a larger church was built on adjoining land to the west of the chapel. That church continued to house the Guildford congregation until it was affected by an earthquake in 1941. It was subsequently deemed unsafe for use and services stopped being held there in the early 1940s and it was demolished a few years later. The pulpit, pews and much of the furniture from the larger church were relocated to the chapel where they remain in  use today.

The chapel, and the manse at its rear constructed in 1891, are both registered on all State and Commonwealth registers of heritage. They are believed to be the only surviving complementary structures on the one original site anywhere in Australia.

Guildford Wesley Chapel is a vibrant congregation that continues to provide religious and non-faith activities to the community. An outreach service is provided for people with disabilities and the  church and hall are regularly utilised by local community groups. Guildford Wesley Chapel is also a venue for annual festival events conducted in Guildford. It is one of the historic buildings on the Guildford Historical Societies’ ‘Guildford Walk Trail’ utilised by local visitors and overseas tourists.

All past members and attendees are very welcome to come to celebrate and remember all those who went before and led the way to our gracious Lord who loves and guides us still.

Arthur Cook

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