A PRETTY country chapel celebrates 200 years of Christian worship this weekend.

On May 31, 1819 members of the 14-year-old Bay Gate Farm Methodist congregation bought land at Harrop Fold near Grindleton for £4.

It took them two years to build their new place of worship on small hill three miles from the village using locally-quarried stone.

On Sunday October 14, 1821 Amos Learoyd preached at the first -known service at the new Harrop Fold Chapel.

In 1846 Padiham mill owner Elijah Helm bought the cottage element of the building used to accommodate visiting preachers for £40.

He moved in James Lord, the then pastor who also taught in its Sunday School, who opened a day school in his new living accommodation.

Known locally as Lord’s Academy, the pupils learned reading and writing as well as studying The Bible.

When it closed in 1879 after the beginning of compulsory state schooling for children, the classroom was turned into a meeting room for the congregation.

Up until 1874 a bass fiddle and a clarinet were the only musical instruments used in the Chapel but in that year a harmonium was bought.

Originally the chapel was illuminated by candles and then by oil lamps.

In 1886 the chapel trustees bought back the meeting room from Elijah Helm junior for £18.

In 1954 there was a Sunday school operating with 12 pupils.

In December 1960 electricity was installed.

The chapel continued to play its part in the Clitheroe Methodist Circuit until 1996 when it was purchased by members to stop it being closed and sold as a house.

It then became the home of the independent Harrop Christian Fellowship with Dale Mason becoming pastor.

Since 2007 Blackburn’s Rev Norman Pearson has been minister in charge with a weekly congregation of around 15 to 20.

On Saturday there will be a family barbecue at the chapel and on Sunday at 2pm a special Bicentenary service with around 100 people expected, including Ribble Valley Borough Mayor Cllr Stella Brunskill.

The Rev Pearson, 73, said: “This is very special historic church to be in charge of.”

Mervyn France will preach on Sunday with music from Lucy France, both from the Kay Farm Fellowship in Scorton.