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Gadfield Elm Chapel
The History of the England Bristol Mission
from the Mission Yearbook, written around May 1970
On 24 January, 1962 , President N. Eldon Tanner announced in Hyde Park Chapel, London, that a new mission would be formed in the British Isles -- The Southwest British Mission. Bristol was to be the new headquarters.

On Ivywell Road in Sneyd Park a lovely old house was bought which was to be the office and headquarters of the mission. Extensive repairs were made on the mission home so that it would be an acceptable place to keep the records and important documents of the Church, as well as being a comfortable residence for the Mission President, his family, and the Mission staff. The grounds of "Well House" are lovely and spacious and add much to the spirit which presides there.

Chosen as the first mission president was A. Ray Curtis who came from the United States in February, 1962. At the opening of the Southwest British Mission there were twelve districts; Bristol, Somerset, Gloucester, Royal Windsor, Reading, Guildford, Oxford, Plymouth, Southampton, Cornwall, Portsmouth, and South Coastal.

We are told in Proverbs 29:18 that "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Joseph Smith said: "A task without a vision is drudgery; a vision without a task is a dream; a vision with a task is victory." Hence, an appropriate name for the helpful and necessary periodical was "The Vision." This brought inspiration from President Curtis and other leaders of the mission to the missionaries, branch presidents, and others throughout the mission.

At the formation of the Southwest British Mission the Church in this area prospered. Tithing increased, membership increased, percentage at meetings increased, and the Spirit of the Lord among the members was felt strongly. Truly the formation of this new mission was planned and inspired by the Lord. Many programs in proselyting, fellowshipping, reactivation, and other Church responsibilities helped to see the mission grow. At the end of 1962 the mission was a completely organized function of the Church.

In 1964 the Southwest British Mission was divided and the British South Mission was formed. Portsmouth, Reading and Slough were taken from the Southwest British Mission and given to the British South Mission, together with part of the British Mission.

In the early part of January, President Curtis, his wife, Sister Elaine B. Curtis and their children, were released from the mission field.

On March 1, 1965, a new administration was to preside over the mission. President Ray H. Barton and his family were met at the airport by President Mark E. Peterson, who was advisor to the mission, President A. Ray Curtis, and the Mission Home Staff. Because of the unusual musical ability of the Barton family the spirit in the mission was good. Choirs were formed with President Barton conducting. Concerts were given all over England and Wales.

Another highlight of the mission during President Barton's administration was the competitive basketball team which travelled throughout Great Britain, winning favor for the Church. Many Books of Mormon and Meet the Mormon's were given to the opposing teams. This resulted many times in conversion to the Gospel.

On July 1, 1965, South Wales officially became part of the Southwest British Mission, being transferred from the Central British Mission. This added two districts to the mission, great leaders, and wonderful proselyting areas. Since this transfer, South Wales has consistently been one of the most successful parts of the mission for proselyting.

In July, 1967, President Rulon H. Bradshaw and his wife, Marie F. Bradshaw, were met at the Temple Mead railway station by President and Sister Ray H. Barton, and the mission staff, to preside over the mission in place of President Barton who had been released.

In September, 1967, Myrtle Twitchell, President Bradshaw's sister, came to act as cuisinere. She replaced Mrs. Wills who had been cuisinere for several years.

During President Bradshaw's leadership of the mission, the work of the Lord has grown. In the early part of 1968 scouting was organized, following the counsel of the General Board of YMMIA. The first unit to be registered with the Scouts of Great Britain was the Bristol troup[sic], consisting of three patrols. Since that time scouting has been organized in two Wales[sic] Districts, Plymouth District, and South Coastal District.

At the formation of the mission in 1962 there were no chapels, at the present time [May 1970] there are chapels in Merthyr Tydfil, Cardiff, Downend Bristol, Wells Road Bristol, Poole, Plymouth, and Cheltenham. During President Bradshaw's administration three new chapels have been constructed and completed, Newport [Cwmbran], Gloucester, and Southmead Bristol.

Membership of the Church since the formation of the Southwest British Mission has soared to over 9,000 saints.

During the time President and Sister Bradshaw have been here unity and revitalization are progressing, proselyting is bringing many new converts into the Church.

Historical Documents

Mission Photo - October 1962, London Temple
The Southwest British Mission Yearbook (June 1967 - May 1970)

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