Services at home
When he moved to Simonsbath John Karslake was “practically shut away from Methodism, the nearest chapel being five miles away”. As there was no evening service in the village he opened his house for religious services. The population of Simonsbath at that time had risen to over 280 and a new ecclesiastical and civil parish was created, In 1855, work began to build a parish church – St Luke’s – which was consecrated by the Bishop of Bath and Wells on 21 October 1856.
The first incumbent of the parish was the Rev William Thornton. In his book The Reminiscences and Reflections of an old West-Country Clergyman he writes: “The people come to church very well, and my wife had a good choir and a Sunday school. I started a series of cottage lectures on weekday evenings, and held them here, there and everywhere, in order that I might better gain a footing in the place. A man named Kersake was my devoted adherent and accompanied me on these occasions, wherever I went. He was the Exmoor carpenter, and a Wesleyan. He told me that he should stand by me stoutly until there was a Wesleyan Chapel built within two miles of his house. No man, he urged, could be expected to go further than that for his spiritual advantages, and he liked my ministrations very much”.