The Little Hampton Wesleyan Methodist Church came into existence in 1875 when the building was moved onto site at the western corner of the Little Hampton farm property. It had been built in 1863 at Maitland on the two thousand two hundred acre property granted to William Pritchard Weston. This land had been let out to a number of small farmers thus establishing a significant population in the area with the need for a church.
The church building on being moved was sawn in two with the sections placed on poles and skidded on site drawn by bullocks and then rejoined. A vestry and entrance porch completed the building with a stable erected in the church yard.
My father would recall the land for the Church was provided by Edward Murfet, a Methodist and owner of the Little Hampton farm but during the time of the land transfer switched his faith allegiance to that of the Seventh Day Adventist denomination and attempted to stop the Methodists receiving the block, without success.
With the Church being well positioned in the district attendance numbers grew and were added to when the nearby Bishopsbourne township Methodist church closed at the end of September 1912 and the Liffey Church also Methodist, located half way between Bishopsbourne and Carrick, was moved during March/April 1909 to Elphinstone Road, Cressy.
In my time at the Little Hampton Church from the 1940s the congregation was usually around 40 persons with a further 20 attending the Sunday School. The Sunday School was held at 2.00pm and the Church service an hour later. The church yard was filled with cars and bikes lined the wall of the church.
The congregation was active in the community holding various meetings and social occasions. Fund raising to support the work of the Church was regularly undertaken. Over a number of years a food catering service was undertaken at The Longford Motor Racing event. Much of the profit was directed to the establishment of the Glen Rowan Homes for the Aged at Perth.
One visitor to the church was a tramp, who around the time of the Second World War, would periodically come for weeks at a time and set up camp in the stable. He would make a bed of grass and cook outside. While there he would walk the several miles to the Liffey River and collect willow wood, out of which he made clothes pegs and sold them around the district. His name is no longer remembered but stories state he dressed in army style clothes and walked with long strides.
The Church yard had the reputation of being haunted as lights were claimed as being seen there. Luminous mushrooms grew in the grounds and it was probably these that were seen. Even so it was of sufficient reason for many to be wary when passing by, particularly at night. One regular was a suitor who would pass the spot on his way to and from when visiting his intended at Bishopsbourne. A plan was hatched to jokingly give him a fright: the perpetrator would hide in the deep ditch armed with a red coloured light.
As expected the suitor came along on his bicycle, returning home in the dark, and as he drew near the light was switched on, accompanied with loud haunting moaning noises. It is said the rider was terror struck and rapidly moved into top gear to make his escape. No doubt the prankster went home well satisfied.
A sad event occurred at the church when 10 year old local school boy, Glen Reid, was electrocuted. On his way home he decided to climb a tree to locate bird nests. When he reached a point near the top of the tree the wet branch on which he was sitting touched high-tension wires. The shock threw the boy’s body back into the tree. Other children were sheltering under the tree from rain when the fatality occurred but were not harmed. The tree with others near the power line were soon felled.
With dwindling numbers the church was closed in 1975 and the property sold, becoming a private residence.
Notes by Ivan Badcock – 14 May 2019