Benton Corners Road, Sudlersville, Queen Annes County
Built in 1783, Dudley's Chapel is a simple brick structure with a moderately pitched gable roof. The west gable, facing the road, is the principal facade, while the altar and pulpit are located at the east end of the church. This is a very simple and unpretentious building, made even plainer by a series of renovations and repairs undertaken periodically throughout the 19th century. The most significant change to the exterior of the building was the application of a coat of stucco in 1883, covering all of the original brickwork, and also hiding evidence of alterations to the windows and one door. Although the bonding pattern is not known, it seems probable that it was laid in Flemish bond, perhaps with random glazed headers, but without a watertable or belt course. On the west gable, double paneled doors are flanked by a tall 6/6 window on each side. Each of these openings has a recessed relieving arch, the most significant decorative feature of the building. In the upper gable there is a small window concealed by louvered shutters. The north and south facades are very plain, with three tall 6/6 windows symmetrically ranged along each wall. An interior brick stove chimney pierces the roof on each side between the east window and the center window. The east gable is equally plain, with a single 6/6 window at each corner, flanking the pulpit. The north window was originally a door to the vestry, but this was closed in and changed to a window in 1900. There is no window in the upper gable at this end. Several cast-iron tie plates have been secured through the walls; some of these are S shaped, others are plain square plates. A box cornice with crown mold and bed mold extends along each facade, returns at the gable and is carried up the eaves. This presumably dates to 1856, when the roof was rebuilt. A small cemetery lies to the rear of the chapel.
Dudley's Chapel is primarily significant for its prominent place in the early history of the Methodist Church in Maryland. The society which built Dudley's was organized by 1774, only eight years after Francis Asbury first preached in New York City. The church, built nine years later, is one of the earliest surviving Methodist churches in Maryland, and was the first Methodist church built in Queen Anne's County. Architecturally, Dudley's Chapel is significant as one of only two 18th century churches remaining in the county. It represents a simple yet graceful example of the small, brick parish churches built throughout the Tidewater region during the 18th century. Of particular interest are the three recessed brick relieving arches on the front gable, reminiscent and perhaps anticipating the work of the neoclassical movement popularized in the early 19th century. Many of the prominent early leaders of the Methodist Church are known to have preached both at Dudley's and in the Sudlersville area. Among the more notable figures were Francis Asbury, Thomas Coke, Richard Whatcoat, Jesse Lee and Freeborn Garrettson. Asbury, Coke and Whatcoat were the first three Bishops of the American Methodist Church, Lee became a noted historian of the church and a missionary to New England, and Garrettson was the first native American Methodist minister.