Early Supporters of the Methodist Church in Penketh
Members of the Gandy family were involved in the early development of the Methodist Church in Penketh. Penketh was part of the parish of Prescot, with its Chapel of Ease at Sankey. At the end of the 18th century there was no Methodist Chapel or Society in Penketh, although there was, of course, a Society in nearby Warrington. However even at this early date, it seems there was at least one connection with Methodism: preachers had passed through the village and had been guests of the Gandy household.
The earliest mention of a proposal to build a Chapel is in December 1817 when a plot of land at the corner of Stocks Lane and Warrington Road was bought for five shillings. In 1818 the deed of conveyance was passed into the possession of the first trustees, two of whom resided in Penketh, George Percival and William Gandy. The building was completed and opened for worship at special services on 30th May 1819. George Percival was the first Senior Society Steward, followed by William Gandy, who filled this post until 1825. William Gandy remained a leader of the Church for many years.
The Methodist Sunday School appears to have been formed in the early days, before the first Chapel, and was probably held in the farm which was used for services. Nothing is known of these early days except that William Gandy, a cobbler, was its superintendent until at least 1839.
The commitment of William and Elizabeth Gandy (Isaac’s parents) to the Methodist Church is shown by the fact that they baptised nine of their eleven children at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Bank Street, Warrington, between 1817 and 1835, including Isaac. Children of other Gandy shoemakers were also baptised there, for example James the son of shoemaker James Gandy and his wife Esther in 1835.
However, not all Gandys were Methodists and all their children were not baptised as Methodists. William and Elizabeth’s first child, daughter Mary, for example was baptised at Sankey Chapel (the Farnworth chapelry of Sankey, Anglican), together with many other Gandy children. James and Esthers daughter Mary was baptised there in 1844, as was daughter Margaret in 1845. Seven children of shoemaker John Gandy and his wife Mary of Penketh were baptised at the Sankey chapel between 1812 and 1826. Shoemaker Peter Gandy and wife Alice and shoemaker James Gandy and wife Martha were two couples who also preferred Sankey Chapel in the 1850’s and 1860’s.
Penketh Methodist Church in 2005
A link to Penketh Methodist Church History will be found here. Eric Hall has kindly taken some interior photographs of the church showing links with the Gandy family, before it was demolished in 2009, and some photographs from the demolition of the church.
The memorial plaques were rescued by the Garnett family, but the organ was unfortunately destroyed.
Penketh Methodist Church in 2011
The new Penketh Methodist Church and Olive Tree Community Centre (above) was inaugurated in 2011 and the stained glass Rose Window from the old church is now on display there. See below: