Blue Bell Inn and The Methodist Society of Dale Abbey
The Blue Bell Inn was part of the old oratory, which is now the church and farmhouse at Dale Abbey. Before relocating to the Carpenter's Arms, the old Blue Bell Inn was the source of religious discord among the villagers of Dale Abbey. Rev.Joseph Thorpe Milner wrote in his 'Memoirs of the rev. Joseph Hollingworth' 'that there was a door in the wall, leading from the gallery into the house, through which, in ancient times worshippers were accustomed to steal to refresh themselves.' Milner suggests that the ancient villagers of Dale Abbey became divided on matters of religion. Many in the village prescribed to the instructions found in the 'King's Book of Sports', published in 1618. The 'Book of Sports' suggested that following the Sunday service that peoples of England should 'indulge in such recreations as dancing, archery, morrice dances, may-poles and other such amusements.'
For many others in the village, they were influenced by the purist religious teachings of Rev. John Hieron M.A, the Rector from Breadsall in 1644. The Rector of Breadsall had established a monthly lecture at Dale Abbey until his ejectment from the Establish Church for non-conformity. From this time on there was a strong devotion by the villagers of Dale Abbey to the Christian Faith.
The old Dale family of Hollingworth had been the publicans of the Blue Bell Inn and later established the Carpenter's Arms. In 1771, the first of John Wesley's ministry began calling upon Dale Abbey and the Hollingworth family. The first preacher to come to the village was Mr. S. Bardsley. Soon afterwards a society of Methodists was formed. Rev J. Taylor of the Methodist movement made comment that Mr. (William) Hollingworth became one of the first members of the Methodist Society to form in Dale Abbey in 1786. Mr. Hollingworth's grandson Rev. Joseph Hollingworth was to later become one of the more notable Methodist priests to circuit the midlands between 1802 and 1836. Before the construction of the Methodists chapel at Dale Abbey, an attentive congregation used to attend the barn of Mr. Joseph Hollingworth senior of Dale. The Hollingworth family of Dale originally came from the neighbouring village of Breadsall where they were publicans of the Old Hall Inn. This family are a junior scion of the Hollingworths of Hollingworth Hall in Cheshire who descend directly from 1240 to this time. Rev. Peter John Hollingworth AC, OBE, Archbishop of Brisbane and the 23rd Governor-General of Australia is a direct descendant of the Hollingworths of Dale Abbey.
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