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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

Directory Listings





Parish Records




War Memorials

continued from the previous page:


Much of James' life can be read in two articles reprinted below. One appeared in the 'Western Times' in 1930, to celebrate his 90th birthday. The other is extracted from the United Methodist Church 'Messenger', Exeter Circuits, for May 1913, celebrating the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of the Newton St. Cyres Chapel. The Chapel had been part of the Bible Christian Church, which combined with some other Methodist Societies early this century to form the United Methodist Church; this in its turn later became part of the Methodist Church as we know it today.


James Chudley aged about 90

James Chudley aged about 90

© John Chudley


From The Western Times

February 1930


Shoals of congratulations have reached our veteran, Mr. James Chudley, who celebrated his 90th birthday on Monday. Mr. Chudley was born in the parish of Shobrooke on February 17th 1840, and at the age of eight years went to work on a farm. Later the family moved to Newton St. Cyres, where at the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a local tailor, at which trade he worked all his life until the last few years. In 1863 he married Eliza Dunn, of Exbourne, Devon, and they celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1913. Two years later Mrs. Chudley died.


Mr. Chudley has been married to his present wife for about 14 years. His family consisted of eight sons and three daughters; one of the latter died in infancy and one son, Fred, was killed in the South African War in 1900. His remaining nine children are at present in California, British Columbia, Canada, London, Bude, Torquay, Exeter and Newton St. Cyres. Five of the sons were in the regular army, three serving in the Great War. One of them, Samuel, returned with the rank of Captain. One of the daughters is the wife of Rev. P.Cudmore, United Methodist Minister of Torquay.


Mr. Chudley has been a local preacher and Sunday School teacher for nearly 70 years, and for many years has been, and is still, Superintendent of the Sunday School, and Church Treasurer and Secretary for the Bible Christians, later United Methodists. He became a member of the parish council upon its formation, and served a term as vice-chairman. When local managers to the Council School were first appointed, Mr. Chudley was elected to that body and is still a manager, and still retains an active interest in the work of the school. He was the last of the old parish constables and the staff and handcuffs are still in his possession. As a lifelong Liberal he has taken a prominent part in parliamentary elections, being a strong supporter of Mr. G. Lambert M.P., and for the Liberal candidates preceding him. The best wishes of the district are being showered upon him with the hope he be spared for a further period in the service of his church and fellow men.


From The United Methodist Church Messenger Exeter Circuits

May 1913


As a denomination we owe an inestimable debt to the leaders of our village societies, where year after year and generation after generation, children and young people are trained and educated in the things of the Kingdom, and whence in the majority of cases, they pass on to town and city to become the strength of a larger church. This has been eminently true in the case of our Church at St. Cyres during the last half-century.


For some years, prior to 1863, a small company of Bible Christians worshipped in a cottage in the village of St. Cyres; here the nucleus of a church was formed, which has continued with varying success until this day. Fifty years ago, during the ministry of Revs. T.P.Oliver and S.Higman, a chapel was built, but not until December 27th 1863 was the deed of conveyance signed, by which the chapel became Connexional property. The chapel was not well built, and before many years had elapsed it became dilapidated, and the cause suffered in consequence. After some years of struggle there came a revival of interest; manganese mines were opened near the village, and this brought a large influx of nonconformists from North Cornwall, among whom were three gifted local preachers, besides other willing helpers. The presence of these friends was the inspiration of a scheme for reconstruction of the chapel, a new end wall was built and the seating remodelled.


The property was hampered by the closing down of the mines, and several interested families had to leave the district. For some years the cause was small, but Mr. and Mrs. J. Chudley and family remained loyal. During the pastorate of Rev.A.Trengrove, there were valuable additions to the church. Mr. John Harris and family and Mr. R.J.Yendole and family came to reside at St. Cyres. These friends entered into the work with zeal and devotion; the debt on the building was paid off and the chapel was renovated at a cost of £110; but again losses had to be faced. Mr. Harris and family moved to Lapford; and Mr. Yendole was called to the higher service and the family moved to Exeter. Today we have a membership numbering twenty-eight, and a Sunday School and Band of Hope of sixty-five children.


Mr. and Mrs. Chudley, who are still with us, have seen the inception and continuance of the work. For over 50 years they have maintained their loyal support and devoted service, when numbers have been small as well as when crowds have attended the chapel. Mr. Chudley has been for many years a local preacher, School Superintendent and Society Steward. From that home have passed out into the larger service, Susie (Mrs.P.Cudmore), John and Richard to Exeter, Frank and Albert to London, Samuel to Bude, William to Canada; Fred gave his life for his country in the South African War, while George and Amy remain to help carry on the noble work. It is impossible to estimate the influence of this family on the life of the church and the neighbourhood.


Sweetham Chapel as originally constructed
Sweetham Chapel as it was originally constructed

The attached cottage on the right was for many years the home of James and his second wife Bessie

© John Chudley




The contents of this page are the copyright property of John Chudley


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