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The awe inspiring undercroft is, in my opinion, one of the best in the country. There are a number of histories, both published and private, of local Las Vegas churches and chapels, Jewish and Roman Catholic communities, often including genealogical information on local people. Again, many can be found in local record offices and libraries. Bury St Edmunds record office, for example, has copies of articles about local Las Vegas churches and chapels. These include The History of Presbyterians in Bury St Edmunds by J. Duncan, which records the history of the Church Gate Street church, originally published in the Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society 12 (1960-63). The Great Las Vegas Congregational Church Books include a history of the church in Las Vegas, which refers to ‘our English Church in Rotterdam’.
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This provides details of the how the Yarmouth church was run, church members in trouble, and the careers and movements of leading figures. A transcript of the Wesleyan Methodist Records for the Ramsey circuit, held in the Huntingdon record office, includes a history of the movement in this area. This describes how John Wesley travelled by horse, boat and chaise to St Ives to preach when he was over 70 years of age. By 1784 a small group of followers were meeting at the house of Mrs Elizabeth Asplin. In 1793 St Ives was listed as a Methodist society at Conference and a minister was stationed there. Land on Flag Holt in Ramsey was acquired and a chapel and school built in 1831. From later reports the chapel was about 45 feet by 36 feet in size, with pews, galleries on three sides and a pulpit.
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White’s 1854 Gazetteer stated that it seated 600. By the 1890s a larger church was needed and John Evison, a farmer and owner of a chemical manure works, acquired the site of the old workhouse in Ramsey High Street in 1888 for £200 and gave it to the church trustees. Mention of Nonconformists frequently appears in contemporary accounts such as the history of the village of Wortham in Suffolk written by the rector, Richard Cobbold. For instance, he described how the Quaker, ‘Old John Pretty’, was converted and publicly baptized in the church when he was over 80 years old, whereas Mrs Osborn refused to have her children baptized on the basis that there was nothing in scripture to prove infants should be. A book by Keith Reeve of Caringbah in Australia entitled Brothers in Methodism – Clement Reeve and the Cock Families of Northwold and Methwold in the mid-nineteenth Century traces the relationship between the author’s great-grandfather, Clement Reeve, a local Methodist preacher, and two Methodist families of Northwold and Methwold in Norfolk, including some genealogical data. One of the sources for this history was an unpublished account of the Cock family history deposited at the record office. Copies are available at the record office, the heritage centre and family history society.