At the sign of the Barking lion...

Methodist church, Orford

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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Orford Methodist

Orford methodist Orford methodist
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    As I have observed elsewhere, Orford people are fiercely independent, as befits their tiny, smoky town, where the wind always seems to blow from the great river up between the towers of the castle and the parish church. Jean Carter and Stewart Bacon, in their fine little hymn of praise to the place Orford Suffolk, published in 1978, recalled the words with which George II was greeted on his visit to Orford in 1727:

If the King ask "who are you then?"
We humbly answer "Orford Men".
Who else dare ask, we answer bluff:
"We're Orford Men, and that's enough".

Orford's methodist church is tucked away in a side road, an imposing sight with the ruined tower of the castle rising behind it. It is a perfectly Edwardian building, the foundation stone laid on the 29th October 1901. The style is very much that of Anglican and Methodist churches of the period, a large perpendicular window above an entrance portico, the red brick banded with white. The pinnacles create a deliciously independent faux-classical effect. Two corbel heads either side of the window grin and scowl in turn. All in all, this is a fun building.

It replaced an earlier Primitive Methodist building of 1837. At the time of the 1851 census of religious worship, Orford Methodist Society had a membership of 18, and was served by William Dolman, the Minister at Kelsale, who had a fair journey each Sunday. The old building held just 150 people, so was probably much smaller than its 20th Century replacement. It seems to have been nearly full every Sunday. However, given that Orford had a population of 1,100 at the time, it is perhaps surprising that there were no other independent congregations.

  this stone was laid

Simon Knott, December 2009



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