‘It’s not very Christian of them’ - Anger over Methodists’ sale of their chapel in Knapton, near North Walsham
- Credit: Nick Butcher
An angry community chief has accused the Methodist Church of failing to live up to its Christian ideals by rejecting a village bid to buy a redundant chapel.
Knapton Parish Council had offered more than £2,500 above the £65,000 guide price to buy the Methodist chapel on the village's Pond Lane.
The council had explained to a Methodist chief that it wanted to buy the chapel and use it as a village hall, according to parish council vice chairman Alan Young.
But Mr Young said he had discovered that the Methodists had accepted an offer from an unidentified bidder instead.
'I'm very disappointed on behalf of the village,' said Mr Young.
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The chapel, a converted barn, had been a place of worship since 1880 and a Methodist chapel since 1890 but closed in January this year because of a dwindling congregation.
'The village built and maintained it through the years. It was even extended about 25-30 years ago using land donated by the local Hammond farming family,' said Mr Young.
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'I think the Methodists have behaved poorly over the whole deal. If they really cared for the community they would have let the parish council buy it - it's not very Christian of them.
'They weren't obliged to accept the highest offer and it wasn't as if were asking them to give it to us for nothing.'
Knapton used a Victorian building belonging to the Church of England as its village hall. It was in a poor state of repair, with a roof which was 'falling in', and needed about £150,000 spent on improvements, said Mr Young.
By contrast the chapel was 'in good nick', with a toilet, kitchen and large room which could be divided. 'It would have been ideal,' he added.
Cedric Brown, a member of the Methodist Church who was asked by the North Norfolk Methodist Circuit to organise the chapel's sale, said the building had been sold for 'a considerably larger amount' than the parish council had offered.
'The church is a charity and it's obliged to get a certificate showing that the amount accepted was the best price reasonably obtainable,' he said.
The sale, for which sealed bids were invited, had attracted a number of offers but he declined to say who had bought it or how much they had paid.
Mr Brown added: 'I'm sorry that the parish council was not able to make an offer that would enable the sale to them to take place.'