Poole, Dorset

Methodism reached the town in 1789, with the arrival of an unnamed stonemason to work there. He began to preach and in the same year, according to local tradition, Theophilus Lessey of the Salisbury Circuit was the first itinerant to visit trhe town. A former theatre ('horribly cold and altogether inconvenient') near the quay became the first home of the Methodist society. The cause was boosted by the support of Robert Carr Brackenbury, whose influence gained them their High Street site from Sir John Noble of Canford. The first church, in Georgian style, was built in 1794 and survives as the large hall in Chapel Lane. Brackenbury's generosity enabled them to clear the debt by 1808. In 1880 the gift of the freehold of adjoining land by Lord Wimborne made it possible for a larger church to be built. This survives as the present High Street Church.

In 1797 the Blandford Circuit was renamed 'Poole Circuit', only to become the 'Weymouth Circuit' in 1805. In 1808 Thomas Newton junior was stationed as a missioner in the Poole area, and, probably as a result, Poole became the head of a separate circuit the following year.

In 1834 Primitive Methodist preachers came down the Stour Valley via Blandford and held their first services in a building in Cinnamon Lane formerly used by the Swedenborgians. A pawnbroker named Isaac Jacobs was prominent among the leaders of the early society. Premises in North Street were rented in 1837, replaced by a chapel on the site in 1842. Poole became the head of a PM Circuit in 1839, The North Street buildingl was replaced by a new chapel on the same site in 1897.

The growing resort of Bournemouth was missioned by both Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists from Poole, giving rise to separate circuits in 1873 and 1876 respectively.

Following Methodist Union in 1932, the local Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist societies eventually amalgamated in 1943 in the High Street premises. When North Street church was demolished, its foundation stones were preserved on the High Street site. Other local churches were opened in Parkstone on Ashley Road (1902) Salterns Road (1907).. An MHA home was built on Parkstone Road in 1969.

  • Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, 1893, pp.273-6
  • Poole High Street Methodist Church 1880-1980