Wesley Chapel   Click to enlarge
John Wesley did not preach in the city until 1787. A society of four members was formed that year in the home of Mrs. Dorothy Fisher, who paid for the first chapel at Gowt's Bridge. Wesley Chapel (where the WM Conference met in 1909 and 1925) was opened in 1836; Hannah Memorial (commemorating John Hannah) in 1864; and St. Catherine's in 1880. A WM day school, opened in 1845 in the Wesley Rooms, moved to premises in Rosemary Lane in 1859 and closed in 1932. The Lincoln WM Circuit was formed from Gainsborough in 1801. The WM Conference twice met in Lincoln, in 1909 and 1925.

PM was introduced in 1818 by William Clowes, who preached in Castle Square and was mobbed. Their first chapel in Mint Lane (1819) was replaced by Portland Place (1839) and then by High Street (1905). Six smaller chapels were opened in working-class areas. The Reform movement led to the secession of 500 members from WM in 1851, resulting in the Silver Street UMFC chapel (1857) with three offshoots, including Portland Street, a cause started by the parents of William C. Jackson.

Methodist businessmen who were both office-holders in the Church and Mayors or Sheriffs include Thomas Wallis. His daughter Lena J. Wallis JP (1868-1962) was the first woman to represent the Lincoln District in the WM Conference (1911).


John Wesley's Journal:

June 1780: 'I accepted an invitation from a gentleman at Lincoln, in which I had not set my foot for upwards of fifty years. At six in the evening I preached in the Castle Yard, to a large and attentive congregation. They were all as quiet as if I had been at Bristol. Will God have a people here also? [Next day] 'I preached again at ten in the morning. In the middle of the sermon a violent storm began; on which Mr. Wood, the keeper, opened the door of the court-house, which contained the whole of the congregation. I have great hope some of these will have their fruit unto holiness, and in the end everlasting life.'

July 1781: '[Preached] in the Castle Yard at Lincoln.'

July 1788: 'We reached Lincoln about twelve. A very numerous congregation of rich and poor were quickly assembled. I preached below hill, in Mrs. Fisher's yard; a large and commodious place. From the quietness of the people one might have imagined that we were in London or Bristol. Indeed the dread of the Lord was on every side; and surely His power was present to heal.'

July 1790: 'After dinner we took a walk in and around the Minster, which I really think is more elegant than that at York in various parts of the structure, as well as in its adnirable situation. The new house was thoroughly filled in the evening and with hearers uncommonly serious. There seems to be a remarkable difference between the people of Lincoln and those of York. They have not so much fire and vigour of spirit, but far more mildness and gentleness, by means of which, if they had the same outward helps, they would probably excel their neighbours.'

  • Abraham Watmough, History of Methodism in the Neighbourhood and City of Lincoln (1829)
  • George Barratt, Recollections of Methodism and Methodists in the City of Lincoln (Lincoln, 1866)
  • WM Conference Handbook, 1925
  • Wilfrid E. Selby, One Hundred Years, 1836-1936; the story of Wesley Chapel, Lincoln (Lincoln, 1936)
  • W. Leary, Methodism in the City of Lincoln (Lincoln, 1969)
  • Two Hundred Years On (1987)