Hurdsfield (Methodist) Sunday School was founded in 1808 and the first school and preaching room was opened in 1811, for the education of ‘children of the labouring poor’. The building was substantially enlarged in 1833, and further enlargement and improvements were made in 1872. As a result of some bequests, the Sunday School was closed during its centenary year of 1908 in order that more improvements could be carried out, and the Trustees of the nearby Ebenezer Chapel kindly agreed to allow the use of its premises during the closure. The Sunday School was reopened on the date of the centenary, Saturday 28th November, 1908.
As part of the bicentenary celebrations, a book detailing the history of the Sunday School, published for the Centenary in 1908, was republished. It notes that in 1908, average attendances were in morning, 17 officers and teachers and 136 scholars, and in the afternoon 16 officers and teachers and 166 scholars.
Local government changes in 1975 resulted in the area becoming known as Higher Hurdsfield. The Sunday School closed in August 2015 and is now a private house. After the building closed, the memorials were temporarily housed in Christ Church, Bridge Street, Macclesfield for three years. Since 10 November 2018, the memorials have been on display at the Silk Museum, Park Lane, Macclesfield.
The location of Hurdsfield Sunday School can be seen on this map.
Hurdsfield Sunday School housed three memorials: a wood-framed brass memorial plaque in memory of those who died in WWI, a simpler brass plaque in memory of the fallen of WWII, and a framed scroll naming those who served in WWI. The Sunday School also became home to memorials and other items from the Ebenezer Chapel when it closed.
When the building closed in 2015, all these memorials were removed to Christ Church, Bridge Street, Macclesfield.
The Hurdsfield Sunday School Roll of Honour is particularly interesting. Probably bought ‘off the peg’ early in the war, such Rolls were intended to record the names of men who had voluntarily enlisted, since conscription was not introduced until the beginning of 1916. The initial list appears to have contained a mere twenty-nine names, but as the war dragged on, and more men enlisted (or were subsequently conscripted) their names were added around the edges. The eventual total reached one hundred and sixteen. And as men died, their names were highlighted.
As well as these more obvious forms of remembrance, the Sunday School had other memorials, including framed photographs. In 1916 Harold Coup’s father donated a large framed photograph of his son in uniform, which no doubt hung for many years in the school room. Two small wooden collection boxes made before the war by Harold, who had once earned his living as a joiner, were later inscribed “In memory of a Much Beloved Teacher.” The photo and boxes were donated to Harold’s former school, the King’s School, after the chapel closed.
The brass plaque shown below, which lists the names of the ten men from the Sunday School who died in the first world war, was unveiled on Sunday 5th December 1920.
IN HONOURED MEMORY
OF THE FOLLOWING
SCHOLARS OF HURDSFIELD
SUNDAY SCHOOL WHO FELL
IN THE GREAT WAR
1914 – 1919
TO LIVE IN HEARTS WE
LEAVE BEHIND IS NOT TO DIE
The framed roll of honour lists the names of the 116 scholars from the Sunday School who served in WW1. The names of those who died are outlined in black.