George Whitefield preached to large crowds in 1739, followed in 1744 by John Wesley, who became a regular visitor, describing it in 1775 as 'the liveliest place in the [Gloucester] Circuit'. He opened the first preaching house in 1777 (enlarged 1813). Prominent among the members of the local society were the family of Samuel Vernon, a respected farmer and loyal Anglican, 'an example of integrity, punctuality and decision', on whom Wesley called on his last visit, in March 1790.
The present church in the town centre was built in 1878 by Thomas Collins, senior Circuit Steward and the builder of many churches for all denominations. The Tewkesbury Circuit was formed from Gloucester in 1838, comprising at its zenith 12 chapels. It became part of the new Tewkesbury and Cheltenham Circuit in 1991.
For a short time in the 1870s there was also a PM chapel.
John Wesley's Journal:
March 1784: [Having preached at Cheltenham to 'half a houseful of hearers, most of them cold and dead enough'] 'I expected to find the same at Tewkesbury, but was agreeably disappointed. Not only was the congregation much larger, but I admired their teachableness. On my mentioning the impropriety of standing at prayer, and sitting while we were singing praise to God, they all took advice; kneeling while we prayed, and stood up while we sung psalms.'
March 1788: 'Notwithstanding the market, the house was overfilled; and the people were deeply attentive. The work of God goes on steadily here. More and more are continually convinced, and converted to God. But the preaching-house is far troo small…'
Entry written by: DW
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