The 1851 Religious Census


Primitive Methodism reached Norfolk in 1820 and quickly gained an enthusiastic following throughout the county. Very many villages had two, even three chapels offering differing styles of Methodist worship, and Salthouse was no exception.

In 1851 a census of Attendance and Accommodation at Worship (popularly known as the ‘Religious Census’) was introduced. A further one was proposed during the planning of the population census for 1861, but its critics complained that it was clearly favourable to the Church of England and in the face of the heated opposition of Dissenters, the project was dropped. Hence the exercise in 1851 was unique. The entry for Salthouse appears below. The chapel on the coast road, remembered by older people, had not then been built.



The reproduction (left) is a page from the book of the 1851 Religious Census, published by the Norfolk Record Society, showing the existence of two Methodist chapels before the coast road one came into existence.

The first chapel to be built — entry 189, the Primitive Methodist chapel in 1836 — was situated in Grouts Lane in the angle of the first bend. It is still there (rebuilt into a dwelling house by Isaac Cooke and his brother Stephen in the 1920s) now called 'Chapel Cottage'. The information from this census report, is all that we know of this first Salthouse chapel.

The second chapel — the Wesleyan was situated half way up Grouts Lane and is mentioned by Florrie Radley who was born in 1890 and could only have known of it from her antecedents.