About this church
It is the oldest in the county of Lincolnshire, having been opened by John Wesley on 5th July 1779. The chapel retains the original dado rail below a segmental vaulted ceiling.
The story starts with Robert Carr Brackenbury, heir to a large Lincolnshire fortune. He became a Methodist as a young man and in 1776 met John Wesley. At that date he appears to have been living at Raithby, although about this period he started to rebuild the house.
John Wesley’s Journal records that he visited Raithby in July 1779 where 'The shell of Mr Brackenbury’s house was just finished, near which he built a little chapel. It was quickly filled with deeply serious hearers'. Brackenbury became one of Wesley’s staunchest supporters, often travelling with him. In 1788 Wesley recorded 'we went to Raithby: an earthly paradise'; quite a description for a modest country house.
The chapel appears to have been constructed over a stable of slightly earlier date and was originally approached by a double flight of external stone steps which led to a fine first floor doorway. At a later date this stairway was enclosed. The interior of the chapel retains the original dado panelling below a segmental vaulted plaster ceiling. There are three sets of contemporary box pews at the rear and an octagonal tester over the pulpit. The pulpit and communion rail appear to have been altered at a later date and most of the pews date from the mid 19th century.
Brackenbury’s will provided that the chapel should be used by Methodists until such time as they should build a chapel in the village or the owner of Raithby Hall should build them such a chapel. There was obviously no great incentive for a new chapel and ever since the congregation has continued to cross the stable yard to worship.