John Wesley's only recorded visit was in 1790, to change horses. There is no mention of a society until 1805. Methodism was introduced by William Nunn, a local preacher and class leader in the Colchester Circuit, who came to live in the town. (He was the father of William Nunn (c.1809-1834; e.m. 1832, who died within two years of going as a missionary to the West Indies.) In 1808 Thomas Morgan was appointed to the 'Ipswich Mission', initially under the Colchester Circuit. It became a circuit in its own right in 1811, the year in which the first small chapel was opened in Long Lane, soon replaced by Ebenezer in Market Lane (1816), seating 800, and later by Museum Street (1861; restoration, 1888; interior redesigned, 1959). Notabler among the ministers appointed to the circuit was Mark Guy Pearce in 1867 and 1868. A schoolroom in Wicks Bishop Street (1844) is said to have been abandoned because of population movement; but Alan Road chapel was built nearby in 1878. Leading figures during this period of expansion were the successful businessman William Pretty and his contemporaries John Scrivenor and Robert Seager.. Other WM chapels were Bramford Road (1903, replacing a mission hall in Pitcairn Road, of 1886) and the People's Hall (1899). After Methodist Union Landseer Road (1955, replacing a wooden hut of 1931) and Chantry, a dual-purpose church/hall (1957) were opened.
Until 1892 Ipswich Circuit was in the First London District. It was then transferred to the Norwich and Lynn (later East Anglia) District.
PM beginnings in the town are not documented; but the first Quarterly Meeting minutes date from 1836 and a chapel was opened in Rope Walk in 1839. This was the head of a PM Circuit until it united with the Museum Street (formerly WM) Circuit in 1953; it closed in 1954 and was sold to the Seventh Day Adventists. Clarkson Street (1874) was sold in 1951. (The proceedings of both sales supported the building of the Landseer Road and Chantry churches.)
The WMA opened a chapel in Friars Street in 1838, said to have accommodated 600; but nothing is known of it after the 1851 Religious Census, when its largest congregation was 100 in the evening. In 1874 a temporary corrugated iron chapel, seating 350, was erected in Woodbridge Road by the United Methodist Free Churches. It is mentioned in local street directories between 1881 and 1894, but cannot be traced after that date.
At the time of the Religious Census in 1851 the Wesleyans reported 180 free sittings annd 555 others; the Primitive Methodists 100 plus 200 others; and the WMA 80 plus 270 others. Attendances were: WM: Morning 237 plus 62 scholars; Evening 290; PM: Morning 80, Afternoon 210 plus 27 scholars,Evening 100; WMA: Morning 80, Afternoon 60, Evening 80.
Norwood in Park Road, the residence of the Anglican bishop from 1914, became an MHA home in 1979. By arrangement with the Church Commissioners, the house was exchanged for the nearby home of Arthur Hill, a prominent Methodist surgeon, and his wife Elsie. Conference met in the town for the first time in 2001.