Tolpuddle Methodist Chapel and Memorial Arch
Home of the 'Tolpuddle Martyrs'
Tolpuddle village is famous for the six "Tolpuddle Martyrs"; early trade union activists who, in 1834, were unjustly sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia for the illegal swearing of oaths. At least four, possibly five, were Methodists and three were preachers.
A village trail takes in the places linked to the Martyrs: their homes, meeting places and the grave of James Hammett, the only Tolpuddle Martyr to re-settle in the village after being pardoned.
The chapel built in 1818, and used by the Martyrs, still stands, but has not been used as a chapel since 1844 when the lease expired. It is a Grade II* listed building and was acquired in 2015 by the Tolpuddle Old Chapel Trust (TOCT), who have secured funding to begin restoration and maintenance. See their website for more information: www.tolpuddleoldchapeltrust.org Also in the centre of Tolpuddle on the green is the site of the tree under which the Martyrs famously met.
At the eastern end of the village, in front of the current Methodist chapel (built in 1862), stands a memorial arch from 1912. The memorial arch is a listed monument. The Methodist Chapel has recently been renovated and contains a renewed display of the Methodist faith and history of the Martyrs. Leaflets describing a faith walk through the village and a Martyrs' walk through Dorchester are available in the chapel, West Dorset Information Centres, hotels etc.
James Hammett's grave is in St John's parish churchyard, with a headstone carved by Eric Gill. St. John's is now in Covenant with the Tolpuddle Methodist Circuit and monthly united services are held at Tolpuddle Methodist Church or St. John's.
At the 2013 Tolpuddle Festival, a large wall hanging illustrating the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs was unveiled by Rosemary Gameson and Dianne Berry of the Dorchester Stitchers. The work was commissioned two years previously by the Friends of Tolpuddle Methodist Chapel. The hexagonal design is inspired by the shape of the bronze plaque honouring the Martyrs on the Shire Hall in High West Street, Dorchester.
Getting there [SY 798943]