chapter
Introduction
Pages 2

The life of the chapel was the focus for the whole surrounding community. The only alternative centre of social life, especially in the earlier years of the nineteenth century, would commonly be the public house, which those aspiring to respectability would shun. The Congregationalists and Baptists insisted, as the basis of their ecclesiastical polity, that their churches should be gathered communities. Admission to Methodist membership was by a quarterly ticket issued by the minister, but later in the century more formal procedures for recognition of new members were devised. The Salvation Army maintained the emphasis on discipline in the late Victorian period when other Nonconformists were gradually allowing it to fade away. A great deal of effort normally went into the Sunday school, which was approved even by some Strict Baptists. The spiritual needs of the congregation were catered for by gatherings for prayer and Bible study; its social side found expression in such events as the Christmas tea meeting.