Main | Contact | Forum | Gallery | Links | Information

FORSBROOK METHODIST CHAPEL was built in 1856 by the Primitive Methodist's although the exact month of construction is not known.

The chapel in the year 2006 has a Sunday congregation of approximately 12 - 15 and is conducted by the Minister Andrew Baker.

Most of the changes that have taken place, have done so within the past twelve months with the removal of the stage, the insertion of a sink, as before there was only one cold water tap and various other small works but, apart from this the Chapel has not changed much within its 150 year existence.

A handful of people keep the Chapel running in ship-shape condition, these people include The Minister Andrew Baker, Beryl Barcroft, Doreen Tantrum, Heather Eaton and Carol Hughes.

Inside the Chapel underneath the cross on the rear wall is a plaque which was donated to them. The plaque once stood in pride of place, on the now demolished Gimwade Hall which stood in the middle of the Village square until it was demolished in 1927. This was due to either misuse or neglect the hall

This year is the 150th anniversary of the little chapel and preparations are well under way to celebrate this landmark event. The main Event will be held on Saturday July 1st, where an open day will be held from 10am until 4pm. During this time people will be able to write down their very own memories of the Chapel, in which a special book which will be available for all to use.

Chapel Street in Forsbrook derived its name from this little chapel situated in the same street, because at one time it was just a dirt track leading to a number of farms and smallholdings.

On display in the Chapel will be an array of old photographs and memorabilia of the past 150 years of how this quaint littleChapel has been and changed over the years, in the Parish of Forsbrook.

On Sunday 2nd July there will be a special service by Rev, Steven Hatcher and in the afternoon there will be another service conducted by the Chapel's own Minister. Andrew Baker.

The picture below shows of possibly the Sunday School Anniversary, Dated 1962. Seated at the front are: Beryl Barcroft, Meg Nelson, Nellie Plant and Mrs. Keen

Sunday School, Methodist Chapel, Forsbrook

Saying that this is only a small Chapel does not by any means suggest that there does not much go on here, it is just the opposite. There is a Sunday School every week where the attendance is approximately 25 plus and is held between 10-30am and 11-30am. They still have their annual prize giving to the scholars in October and in July they are taken out on the Sunday School outing, which this year is Llandudno.(2006)

The Chapel also has a ladies Fellowship which has about 25 members and meets every Tuesday Evening at 7-30pm and hold their annual Dinner in October. This fellowship was first started back in October 1945 by Beryl Barcroft's mother Alice, and the Rev. H. Collinson came to open it. At the first meeting approximatley 15 members attended.

On Thursday mornings there is a coffee morning, which has a turn out, some weeks of over 30 people, this is held between 11am and 12noon. Although this is held throughout the year, it has a break for January and February.

The Picture above shows the Chapel in between 1900 - 1940

Above is the Ladies Fellowship 21st Birthday Party Oct 1966

Left to Right

Front Row; Mrs. M. Alcock, Mrs. G. Nixon, Mrs. Leese, Mrs. G. Stanley, Mrs. A. Barcroft, Mrs. K. Davies, Mrs. G. Phillips, Mrs. Tydsley, Mr. A. Philips (standing), Mrs. E. Cope.

Second Row; Mr. A. Barcroft, Mrs. Dykes, Mrs. Oliver, Mrs. Amos, Mrs. F Tonkinson, Mrs. Hackett, Mrs. M. Sedgwick, Mrs. A. Cope, Mrs. Heywood, Mrs. Ractcliffe.

Third Row; Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Quayle, Mrs. Cybil Latham, Mrs. Williams, Mrs. N. Plant, Mrs. Latham, Mrs. Halfpenny, Mrs. Holdcroft.

Back Row; Mr. Coggan, Mrs. Coggan, Mrs. M. Capewell, Miss. B. Sedgwick, Miss. B. Barcroft.

This photo was taken in Blythe Bridge Methodist School Room, Victory Café catered for the meal.


During the last two Sundays of May, the Sunday School Scholars still parade around the village with the local Boys Brigade, to collect donations for the up keep of the Chapel and various other activities which they do. The main Sunday School anniversary is held on the 1st Sunday of June.

Also a few more important dates to mention are the Harvest Festival Service which is held on the last Sunday of September and a Special Service for Mothering Sunday which is obviously held on Mothering Sunday.

During the past couple of years the scholars have been doing carol singing in the village, this is in aid of the childrens home.

So as you can see, Forsbrook's little Methodist Chapel is a hive of activity and when you visit, you will always be welcomed with opened arms

Interior of Forsbrook Methodist Chapel February 2006

Plaque from Grimwade Hall Donated to the Chapel

The plaque Reads:
Go the Glory of God




Primitive Methodism
History of the Methodist Church
Origins Introduction
The Methodist response to the political situation History
Wesleyan propaganda Structure of the Methodist Church
Disillusion with the Wesleyan leaders Beliefs and Worship
What was at stake Distinguishing features
Similarities and differences from the Wesleyans Politics
Preaching and revivalism Alcohol and gambling
Common factors Evangelism and Mission
Convergence begins Anglican Methodist Covenant
References Summary of the Church's Purpose
Primitive Methodism  
Primitive Methodism was a major separate movement in English Methodism in the first part of the nineteenth century.
The birth of Primitive Methodism is generally agreed as occurring on the 31st May 1807 at Mow Cop in Staffordshire when Hugh Bourne and William Clowes started the first camp meeting. The day started cloudy and rained threatened to spoil the day, however it soon brightened and people had traveled from as far as Macclesfield and Warrington, it was not well organised. Pulpits were made from piles of rocks, and yet so many turned up. The first meeting lasted 14 hours and ended at 8:00pm. The day had been a success, and so began the organising of a second camp meeting. This took place some 3 months later on the Saturday August 22nd 1807, and was much better organised. This was to be a day and night affair and started at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and continued throughout the night. There were many, mainly from the Methodist church that tried in vain to get the camp meetings banned, but to no avail. They became known as Primitive Methodist’s, simply because they were reviving Wesley's Primitive ways.

The movement was spawned from the personal followings of two men. Bourne and Clowes were charismatic evangelists with a rebellious streak. Both had reputations for zeal and were sympathetic to ideas the Wesleyan Connexion condemned. Their belief most unacceptable to the Wesleyan Connexion was support for "Camp Meetings." These were day-long, open air meetings involving public praying and preaching.

Clowes was a first generation Methodist convert -- at the age of 25 he renounced his desire to be the finest dancer in England. The movement was also influenced by the background of the two men, Clowes had worked as a potter, while Bourne had been a wheelwright. Both of them had been expelled from the Wesleyan Connexion -- Bourne in 1808 and Clowes in 1810. The reason given for Clowes' expulsion was that he behaved "contrary to the Methodist discipline," therefore he could not be a "preacher or leader amongst them unless he promised not to attend camp meetings anymore."

It seems likely that this was not their only concern regarding the pair. Bourne's association with the American evangelist Lorenzo Dow would have put him in a dim light with Wesleyan leaders. The Wesleyan leadership's hostility to Dow is demonstrated by a threat Dow received from prominent Wesleyan (and twice president of the Conference in 1797 and 1805) Thomas Coke, on his arrival in London around 1799. Coke threatened to "write to Lord Castlereagh to inform him who and what you are, and that we disown you,... then you'll be arrested and committed to prison."

The Wesleyan Connexion would also have been concerned about Bourne and Clowes' association with the "Magic Methodists" or "Forrest Methodists" led by James Crawfoot. Crawfoot, the "old man of Delamere Forest," was significant to both Bourne and Clowes because he was for a time their spiritual mentor. He held prayer meetings where people had visions and fell into trances. Crawfoot, according to Owen Davies, had developed a reputation for possessing supernatural powers. Indeed Henry Wedgwood, writing later in the century, recalled that many locals at the time were terrified of the magical powers of an innkeeper called Zechariah Baddeley, but that they considered Baddeley's powers nothing next to the Crawfoot's prayers and preaching.

The enthusiasm associated with revivalism was seen as disreputable by the early 19th Century establishment. In 1799, the Bishop of Lincoln claimed that the "ranter" element of Methodism was so dangerous that the government must ban itinerancy. Men like Bourne and Clowes were not educated members of the establishment and so their preaching and mass conversion was a challenge to the hegemony and its conceptions of manners, as well as to paternalism and order.

The Wesleyan Methodists, such as Dr. Coke, wanted to distance themselves from popular culture, which bourgeois society considered vulgar. Their impatience with the less respectable elements of the Methodist movement was exacerbated by wider developments. The death of John Wesley removed an important restraining influence on popular Methodism. After his death there was no obvious leader to take control of the movement and power was invested in the Wesleyan Conference. The movement no longer had someone who could say conclusively what the Methodist position on any subject was. The Camp Meeting Methodists were able to look back to the early days of the Methodist movement and conclude that amongst other things, field preaching was acceptable.

Also, the Wesleyans formally split from the Church of England, which led them to greater organisation and self-definition. Speaking for the whole of the church necessitated imposing a greater level of discipline on members. The leadership could withhold the tickets of members, like Bourne and Clowes, that did not behave in the way expected by the Conference. The result was that there became less toleration for internal dissent, whilst there was a profound weakening of the movement's leadership.

The Methodist response to the political situation
The leadership of the newly-formed Methodist Church was made particularly sensitive to criticism by international events. Britain had been involved in almost perpetual war with France since 1793. A succession of defeats to allies and the threat of the 'Continental System' increased tension at home.

The establishment faced an alarming threat in the shape of the revolutionary anti-monarchical beliefs of the French government. The war and the French Revolution encouraged a fear of a rebellion in Britain. The repressive laws enacted by the Pitt government came from fear of internal dissent.

In this atmosphere the Methodist leadership feared repression and strove to avoid antagonising the government. The Methodist movement challenged the Church of England - an institution widely regarded as a bulwark of national stability. As Mcleod highlights, Methodist members and preachers could be outspoken in their criticism of the Church of England . The movement grew rapidly, especially amongst the expanding working classes.

The combination of rapid growth, popular appeal, and enthusiasm alarmed many. Fear of the Methodist membership seems to have been shared to an extent by the Wesleyan leadership. Dr. Coke even suggested he would not be surprised if, "in a few years some of our people, warmest in politics and coolest in religion, would toast… a bloody summer and a headless king ."

The leadership reacted to criticism and their own fears by introducing further discipline. They expelled the prominent Alexander Kilham in 1795, and one year later they forbade any itinerant from any publishing without the sanction of the newly created book committee.

From 1805 the use of hymnals not issued by the Book Room was banned, whilst in 1807 Camp Meetings were condemned. Through discipline they hoped they could evade the tarnish of disloyalty.

The leadership reacted badly to Lorenzo Dow, and Bourne's association with him. Dow was a republican and a millenarian. He made wild anti-establishment speeches and did not distinguish between religion and politics. In a tract of 1812, he preached that "May not the 'Seventh Trumpet' now be sounding, and the 'seven last plagues' be pouring out? " Dow accused the British government of being tyrannical and repugnant to God's laws of nature. As a separate church, conscious of their own public image and fearing repression, they had to disassociate themselves from him. The Wesleyan leadership's measures to evade repression led to the imposition of greater internal discipline. Members who were seen as a liability were expelled. Views that were anti establishment were condemned.

Wesleyan propaganda
The Wesleyan leadership did not undertake to improve their reputation with discipline alone. Through propaganda they capitalised on the greater level of discipline in an attempt to reform their image. Hempton claims the Methodists used propaganda to project an industrious and well disposed image.

The Methodist Magazine was utilised to print supportive tracts about the monarchy, praising his wariness of reformers. The movement was portrayed as a conservative force; the leadership claiming Methodism promoted "subordination and industry in the lower orders." Whilst promoting this image of Methodists, the Wesleyan leadership also moved to escape old slurs. One obstacle to Methodist respectability was their association with ignorance and superstition. The leadership tried to shake off this reputation. In Wales, 1801, they warned their members against involvement in sorcery, magic, and witchcraft, whilst in 1816 fifty members of the Portland Methodist Society were struck off for maintaining belief in the supernatural. Not only does this demonstrate that the Wesleyan transition to denominational conservatism resulted in less toleration for alternate beliefs; it also demonstrates that there was less toleration for non-bourgeois beliefs. This illustrates why Bourne and Clowes association with Crawfoot was unacceptable to the leadership. It also suggests a gulf between the outlook of the Wesleyan leadership and the Methodist rank and file.

Disillusion with the Wesleyan leaders
There was a level of disillusionment with the Wesleyan leadership. There was a level of dissatisfaction with the leadership's conservatism and with their financial policies.

The reaction of the Yorkshire membership to the leadership's support of the government after Peterloo is illustrated by the rumour that the Wesleyan leadership had "lent the government half a million of money to buy cannon to shoot them with ." When a local preacher in North Shields criticised the actions of the magistrates at Peterloo, he faced criticism from itinerants and 'respectable friends.' The leadership judged however, that they could not afford to expel this preacher because of the support he commanded locally. This incident demonstrated that the leadership was not representing the interests and views of some Methodists. The leadership's policies frequently did not favour poorer Methodists. The leadership introduced numerous measures to raise money. They introduced weekly and quarterly dues, yearly collections, the payment of class and ticket money, and seat rents. These fees bore severely on the poor during the war years, and in the depression that followed. They also opened a gulf between richer and poorer members. Seat rents marginalised a chapel's poor, whilst exhaling the rich. The poor were often relegated to the least popular part of the chapel, and implicitly their involvement was devalued. Attendance at the chapel, which had once been a means of pride in the face of social superiors, now reinforced their inferiority. Likewise such developments led to the disillusionment of rural Methodists. The poor contributions of many rural societies to the Connexional funds resulted in pastoral neglect . This stress on financial contributions upset and alienated many. Illustrative of the disillusionment of many, a pamphleteer in 1814 said "You complain the preachers never call to see you unless you are great folks... Well you may see the reason; you can do nothing for them; money they want and money they must and will have ." The disillusionment of many Methodists with the leadership of the Wesleyan Conference increased the possibility of schism.

What was at stake
The crucial factor was that these events occurred at a time when the movement had more to lose than ever before. Following their exit from the Church of England, chapel building and a larger ministry became a necessity. In addition to this the Connexion invested in schools, pension funds, and foreign missions. Also, through hard work and clean living, many Methodists had increased their wealth and owned property. All of this could be lost to a paranoid wartime government or a baying mob.

The Wesleyan 'clergy' derived their income from the Church and had a vested interest in ensuring a conservative policy. It was easier for men from the lower sorts, artisans like Bourne and Clowes, to put revivalism ahead of expediency. They had less to lose. The Primitive Methodist movement can therefore be said to have started in reaction to the Wesleyan drive towards respectability and denominationalism. It was a movement led by the poor and for the poor.

Similarities and differences from the Wesleyans
Perceived irreconcilable differences led to the schism of the Methodists movement and the formation of Primitive Methodism. In the early twentieth century, however, the Wesleyans and Primitives were reconciled and reunited.

The structure of the Primitive Methodists, though superficially broadly similar to the Wesleyan Connexion, was profoundly different. Both Primitives and Wesleyans employed a Connexional system, employing a combination of itinerant and local preachers. Their organisational structure had much in common, utilising an array of local, circuit, district, and Connexional officials and committees .

According to James Obelkevich, Primitive Methodism was more decentralised and democratic. Werner concurs that the movement was decentralised. Most decisions and day to day policy were decided at a local level. The circuits were virtually autonomous and their administration was not dominated by church officials, but by the laity.

The expansion of the movement, through the commissioning of new missions, was directed by individuals or circuits, and not by a central authority. Decisions effecting the whole movement were taken at the annual meetings. Even these meetings were highly democratic with the laity outnumbering the itinerants in voting power. The 'church' could not dictate policy to its members. Compare the expulsions of Kilham from the Wesleyans (1795) and an outspoken "malcontent" from the Primitive Methodists (1824). Whilst Bourne had to engage in a long and difficult argument before winning a vote, Dr Coke rejected a democratic decision making process. In the early years of Primitive Methodism the membership had considerable power and freedom.

Primitive Methodist preachers and communities differed from their Wesleyan counterparts. Whilst the Wesleyans tended towards respectability, Primitives were poor and revivalist. According to J.E. Minor Primitive Methodist preachers were less well educated and more likely "to be at one with their congregations" or even "dominated by them ." Primitive Methodist preachers were plain speaking in contrast to Wesleyan services "embellished with literary allusions and delivered in highflown language ." Primitive Methodist preachers were plainly dressed and poorly paid . Whilst Wesleyan ministers in 1815 could command about £100, a house and a horse, the Primitive Methodist superintendent of the Gainsborough circuit received £62 12s in 1852. The second minister at the Gainsborough circuit received £36, about as much a farm labourer . If Primitive Methodist Preachers did not have enough money they were expected to turn to the Lord for support. There was also a disparity between the wealth of their congregations. The Wesleyan congregations were more likely to be from a lower middle class, or artisan, background than the Primitive Methodists. Primitive Methodists were most likely to be small farmers, servants, mill workers, colliers, agricultural labourers, weavers and framework knitters . This is reinforced by my own research into Primitive Methodist social origins in Sunderland.

The Primitive Methodist movement exalted its poor congregations by glorifying plain dress and speech. They promoted it for two reasons. Firstly they thought plain dress was enjoined by the gospel and secondly because it made them distinctive. In a time when Wesleyans sought assimilation and respectability, they wanted to stand out as a "peculiar people." The Primitive Methodist movement made a virtue out of their difference.

Preaching and revivalism
The Primitives were more likely to go against society's norms. The Primitive Methodist maintenance of revivalism is indicative of this.

They were visible and noisy, they made use of revivalist techniques such as open air preaching. Their services were conducted with a fanatical zeal the Wesleyan leadership would have considered embarrassing. The hymns they sang were heavily influenced by popular culture and not considered respectable. They were often sung to popular tunes and they were full of references to heaven as a place of opulence.

As Werner comments, their hymns were a contrast to the "more staid hymns sung in Wesleyan chapels ." All their members were considered equal and were addressed as brother or sister. Even children were able to participate fully.

Many children actually became preachers, for instance boy preachers such as Thomas Brownsword and John Skevington. There were also many girl preachers, such as Elizabeth White and Martha Green who preached as 15 year olds.

The Wesleyan Conference had condemned female ministry in 1803. Professional Wesleyanism had effectively closed its doors to female preaching. Women were limited to work in Sunday Schools and speaking at 'Dorcas Meetings.' Their role was also contrary to the zeitgeist of wider early 19th century society, illustrated by The Laws Respecting Women, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, and Rousseau's Emile. In Primitive Methodism the poor, the young, and women could gain public influence.

The Primitive Methodists were more receptive to the views of such people, and as a consequence took a different line on the supernatural. Wesleyans were trying hard to distance themselves from superstition, and superstitious popular culture. The Primitive Methodists engaged with popular beliefs in their portrayal of an interventionist God whose powers could be called upon by preachers.

Examples of this can be found in the Primitive Methodist Magazine. For instance the December edition from 1824 contains an anecdote of a cripple being healed through her conversion to Primitive Methodism . Likewise the November edition from the same year contains a chapter on "raising the dead" (V) under the title "A TREATISE ON THE CULTIVATION OF THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS ." Primitive Methodists saw the Lord's work in everything. The Primitive Methodist Magazine of 1821 asserting that the movement had begun "undersigned of man" and was an example of "Divine Providence ." The magazine continues to reveal further examples of God's power and favour towards them. A man who set out against the Primitive Methodists was struck down by illness, whilst a preacher who became lost and stranded was saved when the Lord sent people to find him. The leadership clearly believed in what many at the time would have derided as popular superstition. For example Clowes claimed to have fought with the Kingsgrove Bogget as a young man and Bourne believed in witches. About a woman he met at Ramsor, Bourne wrote,

"I believe she will prove to be a witch. These are the head labourers under Satan, like as the fathers are the head labourers under Jesus Christ. ... For the witches throughout the world all meet and have connection with the power devil. "
The magazine finds the exhalations of the laity to be one of the most important happenings at the Camp Meetings. For instance, it reports that at Sheshnall 1826, one woman fell to the ground under the purifying power of the Lord, whilst another cried aloud . The Primitive Methodist Movement was more consenting to working class thought and practice than the Wesleyans were.

Common factors
The Primitive and the Wesleyan Methodists had much in common. The social background of the Wesleyans was not completely different to that of the Primitives. There were many poor Wesleyans. It was in influence that middle class Wesleyans dominated the movement, not in numbers.

Many Wesleyans did not agree or abide by official policy. Many were sympathetic to revivalism and popular culture. The existence of an alternate sect, Primitive Methodism, did not end dissent.

In official policy and outlook the two movements had much in common. They were both Biblicist and a shared similar outlook on society and morality.

The Primitives were more extreme than the Wesleyan Methodists. Armstrong claims, Thomas Cooper found the Primitive Methodists "demurred to [his] reading any book but the bible, unless it was a truly religious book ." Likewise, both the Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists wanted to reform popular behaviour. Again the Primitives were more extreme than the Wesleyans and less in keeping with bourgeois correctness. Bourne was not just in favour of temperance, he disagreed with alcohol altogether and thought of himself as the father of the teetotal movement . The Primitive Methodists were a religion of popular culture. Whilst the Wesleyans attempted to impose elements of bourgeois culture on the lower classes, Primitive Methodists offered an alternate popular culture. They timed their activities to coincide with sinful events. For instance, as an alternative to the race week at Preston they organised a Sunday School children's parade and a "frugal feast." Both tried to inculcate the doctrine of self-help into the working class. They promoted education through Sunday Schools, though the Primitives distinguished themselves by teaching writing. Through a combination of discipline, preaching and education both Primitive and Wesleyan Methodism sought to reform their members morality.

By 1850 the Primitives and Wesleyans were showing signs that they could surmount their differences. Primitive Methodism was mellowing. It was less distinctively non-bourgeois by 1850 and more in keeping with social norms. Less emphasis was placed on the supernatural. In 1828 Bourne said of trances,

"this thing still occasionally breaks out. It is a subject at present not well understood and which requires to be peculiarly guarded against impropriety and imposture ."
Hymns about hell were sung less frequently and the Providence section of the Primitive Methodist Magazine declined in importance . It was dropped altogether in 1862. The Revivalist enthusiasm of the Primitive leadership dimmed. Even Clowes once an ardent enthusiast became,

"convinced that religion does not consist in bodily movements, whether shouting, jumping, falling, or standing ."
The Primitives became less ardent in their support of the female right to ecclesiastical equality. In 1828 women were forbidden from becoming superintendents, and in the mid century there was a cessation of the biographies eulogising female preachers in the Methodist Magazine. Preaching changed considerably. Services became characterised by their decorum whilst the ministry was increasingly professional. The dress code was dropped in 1828 and preaching became more urban based . The community's values were more in line with bourgeois respectability, Parkinson Milson reported that local preachers and class leaders were offended at his plain speech.

Convergence begins
In the 1820s the Primitive Methodists were showing signs of increased conformity. At the same time the Wesleyan Methodists were relaxing their opposition to Revivalism.

In 1820 the Conference permitted an altered form of camp meeting but gave them a different name. Wesleyan preachers adopted door to door techniques and in 1822 there was numerous open air meetings. The official Wesleyan attitude was not only softening in regard to Primitive Methodist revivalist techniques. It was also softening in regard to the Primitive Methodist promotion of non-worldliness. The Methodist Magazine printed a series of articles titled "On the Character of the Early Methodists." The magazine praised their "plain dress" and simplicity of manners." This represented an attempt to re-engage with the poor. By 1850, both Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists were finding that the differences were less significant and aroused less passion.

The Primitives were becoming more like the Wesleyan Methodists. The same forces that promoted schism in Wesleyan Methodism operated on Primitive Methodism. Their leaders became more conservative as they got older. They showed signs of a move away from Revivalism and the leadership became intent on imposing a greater discipline on the membership. They experienced their own schisms in the 1820s. These Primitive Methodist troubles were blamed on the admission of "improper" preachers and "questionable characters. " The sentiment of this explanation is similar to Bunting's comments that "schism from the body will be a less evil than schism in it ." The Primitive Methodist problems in the 1820s were often related to money matters. The conference of 1826's decision to impose tighter fiscal discipline on the circuits led to the exodus of members and thirty itinerants. The movement became more geared towards consolidation through greater organisation. In 1821 preachers were called upon to record their activities and in 1822 a preachers manual was published. Preachers now had guidelines, an element of accountability had been introduced, and the leadership had asserted the Connexional accounts had priority over spreading the word.

  • Primitive Methodist Magazine, (Derby, Richardson and Handford Marketplace, 1821)
  • Primitive Methodist Magazine, (Derby, Richardson and Handford Marketplace, 1824)
  • Primitive Methodist Magazine, (Derby, Richardson and Handford Marketplace, 1826)
  • Primitive Methodist Baptism Records, Sunderland Local Studies Centre
  • Armstrong, Anthony, The Church of England, the Methodists and Society 1700-1850 (London, University of London Press, 1973)
  • Bebbington, D.W. Evangelicalism in Modern Britain (London, Unwin Hyman, 1989)
  • Colls, Robert, The Collier's Rant (London, Croom Helm, 1977)
  • Davies, Owen, Witchcraft, Magic and Culture 1736-1951 (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1999)
  • Gash, Norman. Aristocracy and People: Britain 1818-1865 Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979.
  • Gunter, Stephen W., The Limits of Love Divine (Nashville, Kingswood books, 1989)
  • Hempton, David, Methodism and Politics in British Society 1750-1850 (London, Hutchinson and Co., 1984)
  • Kent, John, Holding the Fort (London, Epworth Press, 1978)
  • Lowther, John, Primitive Methodism (Sunderland, CIL Press, 2003)
  • Lowther, John, Methodism in Sunderland (Sunderland, CIL Press, 2003)
  • Matthew, Colin, The Nineteenth Century (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000)
  • Mcleod, Hugh, Religion and the Working Class in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Hong Kong, Macmillan Publishers LTD, 1984)
  • Millburn, Geoffrey, Exploring Methodism: Primitive Methodism (Peterborough, Epworth Press, 2002)
  • Moore, Robert, Pit-Men Preachers and Politics: The effects of Methodism in a Durham Mining Community (Bristol, Cambridge University Press, 1974)
  • Obelkevich, James. Religion and Rural Society: South Lindsey, 1825-75 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1976)
  • Rack, Henry D., Reasonable Enthusiast: John Wesley and the Rise of Methodism (London, Epworth Press,1989)
  • Valenze, D.M., Prophetic Sons and Daughters (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1985)
  • Thompson, E.P. The Making of the English Working Class (London, Penguin books, 1991)
  • Ward, W.R., Religion and Society in England 1790-1850 (London, B.T.Batsford Ltd, 1972)
  • Davies, Owen, Methodism, the Clergy and the Popular belief in Witchcraft and Magic, History, 82 (1997)
  • Gareth Lloyd, The Papers of Dr Thomas Coke: A Catalogue, with an introduction by Dr John A. Vickers, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 76, no. 2 (1994), pp. 205-320.
  • J.E. Minor, The Mantle of Elijah: 19th Century Primitive Methodism and 20th Century Pentecostalism, p142, Proceeds of the Wesleyan Historical Society [GB] (1982, Vol 43(6) PT1) pp141-149

History of the Methodist Church
The Methodist Church is the fourth largest Christian Church in Britain, after the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches and the Church of Scotland. It has more than six thousand churches and a total membership of approximately 330 000 people. There are Methodist Churches in nearly every country in the world and global membership numbers some 70 million people.
The Methodist Church is traditionally known as non-conformist because it does not conform to the rules and authority of the established Church of England. Busk of John Wesley
Methodism has its roots in eighteenth century Anglicanism. Its founder was a Church of England minister, John Wesley (1703-1791) who sought to challenge the religious assumptions of the day. During a period of time in Oxford, he and others met regularly for Bible study and prayer, to receive communion and do acts of charity. They became known as "The Holy Club" or "Methodists" because of the methodical way in which they carried out their Christian faith. John Wesley later used the term "Methodist" himself to mean the methodical pursuit of biblical holiness.
In 1738 John Wesley had a profound spiritual experience. "I felt," he wrote, "my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins." The experience transformed Wesley, and inspired him to become one of the greatest preachers of all time.
In Bristol in 1739 he began preaching to crowds of working class men and women in the outdoors. This "field preaching" became a key feature of the Revival, when thousands came to hear Wesley preach up and down the country. He formed local societies of those converted and encouraged them to meet in smaller groups on a weekly basis. He insisted though, that they attend their local parish church as well as the Methodist meetings. Every year, by horse or carriage, Wesley travelled the country visiting the societies and preaching.
Preaching radical ideas took great courage in those days. Wesley and his followers were denounced in print and from pulpits, his meetings were disrupted and he was even physically attacked and threatened with death.
John Wesley always declared that his movement should remain within the Anglican Church but the Church of England was keen to distance itself from him and his followers. He declared "I live and die a member of the Church of England". However, in 1784 he set up a structure, the "Yearly Conference of the People called Methodists" to ensure the continuation of the Methodist movement after his death. In the end, the strength and impact of Methodism made a separate Methodist Church inevitable. In 1795, four years after Wesley's death, Methodists in Britain became legally able to conduct marriages and perform the sacraments.
The new church wasn't without its internal schisms. In 1808 the Methodist lay-preacher, Hugh Bourne, was expelled from the movement. He and his 200 followers became known as Primitive Methodists. They differed from Wesleyan Methodists in several regards, including the encouragement of woman evangelists. Both Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist communities grew rapidly during the 19th century. It was from among the Primitives that many Trade Union leaders emerged towards the end of the century.
Another major Methodist branch was the United Methodist Church, which itself was formed from earlier mergers of smaller Methodist groupings. It joined with the Primitive Methodists and Wesleyan Methodists in 1932 to form the present Methodist Church in Britain.
In 2003, the Methodist Church celebrated the tercentennial of the birth of John Wesley.
Structure of the Methodist Church Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London
The Methodist Church in Britain is divided into circuits, made up of local churches in a defined area. A Superintendent Minister the senior minister appointed to provide pastoral leadership to a circuit. A number of circuits make up a district. There are 33 districts in Britain. Each District has a Chair (in some regards like a Bishop in the Anglican Church) whose job is to lead the ministers and lay people in the work of preaching and worship, evangelism, pastoral care, teaching and administration. Each district has a District Synod which decides policy for that district, within the parameters laid down by the annual Conference (see below).
Individuals can relate to the Methodist Church in many ways, as they explore the Christian faith and their responses to it. The most intensive form of commitment is membership of the Methodist Church. This involves a period of training and affirmation by the local church council that the individual sincerely accepts the basis of membership of the Methodist Church. A service of confirmation and reception into membership is held and if the individual isn't baptised, the service includes baptism.
Each local church has a Church Council, which together with the minister is responsible for coordinating and leading the work or ministry of the church. However, the Methodist church describes itself as having a connexional structure. This means the whole denomination acts and makes decisions together. A local church is never independent of the rest of 'The Methodist Connexion'.
The Methodist Church in Britain is governed by the Methodist Conference which meets in June every year. The Conference is presided over by the President of Conference who is a Methodist Minister, supported by a Vice President who can be a lay person or deacon. Both of these appointments are made annually.
The worldwide umbrella organisation for all Methodist Churches is the World Methodist Council, set up in 1951. Its headquarters is in North Carolina in the USA. The World Methodist Conference meets every five years in different locations around the world.
Beliefs and Worship
Methodists stand within the Protestant tradition of the worldwide Christian Church. Their core beliefs reflect orthodox Christianity. Methodist teaching is sometimes summed up in four particular ideas known as the "four alls".
1. All need to be saved - the doctrine of original sin.  
2. All can be saved - Universal Salvation.  
3. All can know they are saved - Assurance.  
4. All can be saved completely - Christian perfection.  
Methodist churches vary in their style of worship during services. The emphasis is often on Bible reading and preaching, although the sacraments are an important feature, especially the two instituted by Christ: Eucharist or Holy Communion and Baptism.
Hymn singing is a lively feature of Methodist services. The founder's brother, Charles Wesley was a prolific hymn writer and many of his works are still sung today both in Methodist and other churches.
Distinguishing features
For the Wesleys, "works" as well as faith were important in Christian life. In the early days Methodists were involved in welfare projects such as caring for the poor and prisoners. This emphasis is still apparent today.
Politics John Wesley
Methodism has been linked to the formation of reformist groups and trade union movements. John Wesley's practice of encouraging working people to become lay-preachers, alongside their paid jobs, gave them valuable experience of public speaking. Later some of these went on to become trade union leaders and were instrumental in the formation of the Labour Party in the late nineteenth century.


Alcohol and gambling

John Wesley had a lot to say about personal morality. In his sermons he encouraged people to work hard and to save for the future, but also to give generously. He also warned against the dangers of gambling and drinking. At one time, ministers had to take a pledge not to drink and encouraged their congregations to do the same. The Methodist Church became involved in the Temperance Movement towards the end of the 19th century. Nowadays, alcohol isn't allowed in Methodist Church buildings but most Methodist members consider it a matter of personal morality whether they drink or not.
Gambling was also considered inappropriate behaviour for Methodists and church leaders have often campaigned against relaxing gambling laws in Britain. When the National Lottery was introduced in Britain in 1994, the Methodist Church refused to allow its churches to apply for lottery funding. In 1999 it relaxed its ban on lottery money. However, the church still has concerns about the national lottery scratchcards, the ease with which underage players can take part and how the good-causes money is distributed.
Evangelism and Mission
Methodism has a global mission and gives special emphasis to actions which bring justice to the poor and disadvantaged, in Britain and world-wide. Included in the Church's mission is a concern for evangelism, which is developed in flexible and imaginative ways, in order to communicate the Christian gospel attractively and persuasively.
Current issues  
Anglican Methodist Covenant  
Several attempts were made in the twentieth century to reunite the Methodist Church with its founder's own church - the Church of England. These were rejected by the Church of England's General Synod in 1972. However, dialogue and informal relations continued. In 2003 a Covenant between the two churches was signed. This affirms each church as true Christian churches, carrying out the work of God and commits each church to work more closely with the other towards full unity.
The Covenant relationship between the Methodist Church and the Church of England is one element in the Methodist Church's goal to work with a wide range of partners (the other denominations, Christian agencies, Methodist Churches in other parts of the world and secular organisations) to pursue its mission.
Summary of the Church's Purpose ('Our Calling')
The Church exists to:  
  • Increase awareness of God's presence and celebrate God's love [Worship]
  • Help people to learn and grow as Christians, through mutual support and care [Learning and Caring]
  • Be a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice [Service]
  • Make more followers of Jesus Christ [Evangelism]